Track down the secrets of Dickens’ London with this Christmas Carol walk: from the Inns of Court where Dickens worked, to the City of London, where Scrooge famously learnt his lessons of kindness and Christmas spirit.
Bah Humbug! If you aren't in the festive spirit, then perhaps a walk in the fresh air will blow away the cobwebs and get you back in the mood. London is rich territory for exploring. And Charles Dickens, as one of London's greatest writers, wove the streets and people of London into his stories.
And what better story to revisit at this time of year than Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
Explore the alleyways and passages of the City of London with Ebenezer Scrooge in mind. With a good walk behind you, pull up a stool by a warm fire with a mulled wine or mince pie in hand in one of London's oldest pubs.
Anyway, here it is.........the Adventure Walks Christmas Carol Walk
Walk Start: Temple Tube station
Turn left as you leave Temple station, climb the steps and turn right on Temple Place. Cut into Temple Gardens and come out the other end, on the left hand path.
Head up the narrow Milford Lane, and follow the way up steeply worn steps to Essex Street.
At Devereux Court take a right, and pass through the black gates to Temple, the home of Barristers at Law since the fourteenth century.** To your right is Fountain Court, described in Dickens’ novel Martin Chuzzlewit. Look for the plaque by the fountain.
Walk on, past the tudor Middle Temple Hall, where Shakespeare first performed Twelfth Night to Queen Elizabeth I. Keep going straight on and through the archway. Turn left into an open courtyard to Temple Church, one of London’s most historic churches, home of the 12th Century Knights Templar. It is also one of London's few entirely round buildings.
Take the narrow passage up the left side of Temple Church, called Inner Temple Lane and walk out through the ancient wooden gateway onto Fleet Street.
Turn right and walk along Fleet Street until you reach Salisbury Court on your right. Cut down here, looking for the plaque to Samuel Pepys.
Take the first left into St Bride’s Avenue and take a peep in this beautiful church. Its tiered steeple is said to have inspired a nearby baker to make the first tiered Wedding Cake.
Follow the path round the front of the church and straight on past The Old Bell Pub. Turn right at the bottom into Bride Lane and follow it round to the main road, past the Bridewell Theatre.
Cross the main road at the lights to the right and take the small side turning Stonecutter Street. Climb the giant staircase straight ahead and down again, to Apothecary Street and the old Apothecaries’ Hall.
Turn left along Blackfriars Lane. At the junction of little roads, turn right into Carter Lane and meander along for a while enjoying the narrow lanes off to the side. Turn left up Deans Court and out to St Paul’s Cathedral.
Cross the road to admire the Cathedral close up. Walk alongside the Cathedral, with it on your left. Cross over New Change and turn left, then right, down Watling Street. Take a left into Bow Lane to St Mary Le Bow church famous for its Bow bells: being born in earshot of these bells makes someone a true cockney.
Turn right on Cheapside and walk all the way to Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London. In Dickens’ day, the Lord Mayor ‘gave orders to his fifty cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord Mayor should.’
Carry on past the grand front of the building and cross Lombard Street to the Royal Exchange. Climb up the steps to the pillared portico and head inside. No longer a place where city deals are done, it is now full of luxury shops. The Royal Exchange is where the last of the Christmas Spirits took Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Here he hears bankers and traders dismissively chatting about his death.
Walk straight out of the far side of the Exchange on to Royal Exchange Walk. Turn right and then left onto Cornhill, where Scrooge had his Counting House. Cross the road.
Walk down here as far as St Michael’s Court on your right. In the story, St Michael’s Church is the most likely church whose ‘gruff old bell was always peeping slyly down at Scrooge out of a Gothic window’.
Wiggle your way down the narrow alley, alongside the church, passing the Old Jamaica Wine House, London’s first coffee house, dating back to 1652.
Look out for Simpsons Tavern in Ball Court, where Scrooge might have enjoyed a ‘melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern’. Turn left along the side of the churchyard to the end and bear left and then right down some steps, through a passageway into Corbet Court which opens into Gracechurch Street.
Cross over Gracechurch Street into the Victorian splendour of Leadenhall Market, where Bob Cratchit would have run to get his Christmas turkey.
Head back to Gracechurch Street and turn left to Monument Tube station at the far end before heading home.
** At weekends the entrances to the Inns of Temple are closed except for one on Tudor Street. To get here, follow the passage around Devereux Court and onto Fleet Street, alongside the George Pub. Then turn right down Fleet Street and eventually turn right on Bouverie Street, then right on Temple Lane, following it round to the Temple gateway on Tudor Street. Cross the car park and head straight towards a building with a large clock and weathervane on top. Take the alleyway to the right to cut through into Elm Court. Walk straight across and through the arch to get to Fountain Court. Explore as you like and pick up the walk from point 3. Although the gates are shut at the weekend it is possible to exit from any of the closed entrances.
Afterwards take the kids to see the fabulous Jim Broadbent's Christmas Carol at the Noel Coward theatre till the 30th January.....