An area rich with history and atmosphere, it is now re-emerging from Victorian dockland, industrial area and notorious slum, into desirable riverside as residential area. Now dominated by the Shard it is one of London’s ‘coolest’ areas (3hrs).

The opening of the tube westwards to Chiswick in the mid 19C prompted the development of a purpose-built suburb of grand houses set in leafy streets, many designed by Norman Shaw, complete with a church, schools, shops, pub and social club.  Inspired by the social ideals of Ruskin and William Morris it became the haunt of artists, poets and eccentrics.

BORN-AGAIN BRIXTON – A thriving market and a story of revival and regeneration
A walk that explores the centre of Brixton, including its colourful market, but also visits an award-winning redevelopment of a once notorious ‘sink’ housing estate, and Zaha Hadid’s Sterling Prize winning Academy.

A walk exploring what the locals would call ‘Chelsea Village’. Starting mid-way down the Kings Road, it is a walk of 2 halves, the first concentrating on the Kings Road of the swinging 60s and the narrow streets either side of it, the second walking throught the artists’ quarter to reach the original riverside Tudor village, site of  Henry VIII’s manor house and home to Thomas More. The walk continues along Cheyney Row, past the Physic Garden and back to the Kings Road (2 ½ hrs).

A walk from Sloane Square – Sloane Rangers and the Kings Road, past Wren’s masterpiece – the Royal Hospital – home of the Chelsea pensioners, to weave through the elegant roads and squares with stories of artists and writers who made it infamous as the 19th century bohemian haunt of London.

Walk starts with a brief exploration of Bedford Park, (see above for walk of Bedford Park in detail) designed by Norman Shaw, as the first experiment in garden suburbs. then go under A4, to the 15c. Chiswick riverside village and continues along Chiswick Mall finishing by William Morris’ Kelmscott House and the 17c. Dove Pub (3hrs – approx 3 miles).

Still preserves its village ‘green’, church and pub and is steeped in 1000 years of history. Now home of the loft-conversion set and the media agencies, yet it still retains its slightly raffish and alternative feel.

Still a poor area of London, but one with a long and varied history, its glory days started with the foundation of Henry VIII’s naval dockyard, traces of which still exist.  With the closure of the dockyard in the 19c, increasing industrialisation and 2nd world war bombing it declined into poverty.  Mainly overlooked by the property developers (except sadly now along the river front) Deptford has evolved as a proud working class, multicultural area, with an arty influence from nearby Goldsmith’s College (3 ½ – 4 hrs).

Visit the Painted Hall and Chapel in the Old Royal Naval College, and pass the tea clipper Cutty Sark. Walking across Greenwich Park, climb to Wren’s Royal Observatory, to straddle 2 hemispheres on the Meridian Line and to see Harrison’s chronometer of ‘Longitude’ fame (Entry charge for Observatory).

A series of walks exploring Hackney, one of London’s most historic and fast-changing boroughs

  • DALSTON,  KINGSLAND  AND THE DE BEAUVOIR ESTATE Considered by some to be one of the ‘coolest’ areas in London, Dalston and Kingsland now boasts vegan restaurants and cutting edge art centres. Once brick fields, some of the land was developed by the de Beauvoir and Rhodes families into elegant estates of Georgian and Victorian villas sited on wide tree-lined avenues. A varied walk from the buzzing centre of Dalston, with its hidden garden in an old railway siding and edgy eateries, to the quiet residential streets of the Rhodes and de Beauvoir estates.
  • HAGGERSTON…Where? Sandwiched between the City and the Regents Canal Haggerston is the latest area attracting a property boom.  Victorian terraces, massive neo-gothic public buildings and erstwhile furniture warehouses are now being colonised by the new tech workforce.  But still hints of its previous past remain from Geffrye Museum housed in 1715 alms-houses, to 60’s council estates and canal-side living (Ends by Geffrye Museum + some of London’s best Vietnamese restaurants).
  • THE ORIGINAL HACKNEY VILLAGE Concentrated on Hackney village itself the walk features a medieval church tower, a Tudor manor house (Nat. Trust – Sutton House), Georgian terraces housing fetching £ms., elegant leafy Victorian estates and proud municipal buildings including the Hackney Empire, Hackney Town Hall. The area is now popular with the new generation of young urbanites, but it still retains its slightly edgy feel.
  • STOKE NEWINGTON + WOODBERRY DOWN A varied walk featuring an ambitious and controversial redevelopment project of the notorious post-war Woodberry Down Estate, Stoke Newington – a hill-top village which became fashionable in 16th century…and again now! The route passes a wetland centre, goes through the  ‘spooky’ Victorian Abney Park Cemetery and ends through Stamford Hill, home to the world’s 3rd largest community of ultra-orthodox Jews (3-4m approx 3hrs).
    Still very much a village, and once a fashionable spa it boasts some grand houses, and elegant gardens. Literary and artistic connections abound – John Keats and Constable to name but two.

    HAMPSTEAD – AN ARCHITECTURAL WALK – Modernism versus Victoriana
    In the 1930s Hampstead attracted artists and intellectuals and became a hub for German and Austrians émigrés escaping rising fascism and anti-semitism in Central Europe. It became something of a laboratory for British and foreign architects to experiment with the continental Modernist style. The walk is designed to look at the contrasting styles of the Modernist versus the highly decorative Victorian villas…not forgetting the occasional earlier late 17c domestic architecture.

    One of London’s ‘hill top villages’ competing with Hampstead for exclusivity – although Highgate considers its neighbour as rather flash and new money! The walk will explore the village, with its fine 18c. houses as well as modern architecture, It can end at the cemetery, famous for the burial of Karl Marx (no guiding allowed so self-guide in cemetery).

    Islington is a historic settlement with many layers of history stretching back to Anglo Saxon times. The walk explores ‘Islington village’ and continues through the many early 19c squares, each with its own character and history. It concludes with a pretty stretch along the banks of the ‘New River’ to Canonbury – with its imposing 19c villas and one of London’s few surviving Tudor buildings, Canonbury Tower. NB  2 ¾ hrs linear ending at Highbury & Islington.

    There is much more to Lambeth than the Imperial War Museum, Charlie Chaplin and William Blake.  It is an area where elegant Georgian squares rub shoulders with remains of Victorian ragged schools, workhouses and industry, the most flamboyant of which, the Royal Doulton factory,  we pass on this walk. Lambeth still retains its working class heritage despite being sandwiched between the massive redevelopments of Nine Elms and Elephant and Castle. And yes, there is a Lambeth walk and we go along it!

    NOTTING HILL AND NOTTING DALE – An area of contrasts
    Notting Hill is a very mixed area of extreme and sudden contrasts of elegant housing, social deprivation and vibrant resettlement.  Originally an area of gravel extraction and brick making, the area was developed with grand villas in the mid 19c. but by 1950s/60s it was an area associated with racial tension and property racketeering ..remember Rachman?  But now it commands some of the highest property prices in London.

    The Georgian village around its village green, remains of a Tudor Palace, a riverside walk and a climb up Richmond Hill to see a protected view of the Thames.

    On the borders of the City yet a world apart, now in the forefront of the ‘tech’ revolution attracting hi-tech start-ups and the new youth culture, including street artists such as Roa, and Stik.   Still many traces of the past from Shakespeare’s first playhouse, to Victorian furniture industry. Old buildings with new uses – a circus school in an old power station, comedy clubs under railway arches.

    SOUTHWARK’S HINTERLAND – Bankside, Borough and beyond
    Second only to the City in age the Borough, now part of Southwark, is another fast changing area, but one full of history from Roman times onward. A couple of blocks in from busy Bankside is a fast changing area. There are associations with Chaucer, Shakespeare, Harvard and many Dickens connections, including traces of the prison where his father was incarcerated for debt. Now the narrow atmospheric streets are being revitalised with many warehouse conversions.

    A walk originally developed for the Daughters of the American Revolution, which traces the origins and motivations of some of the first settlers to cross the Atlantic.

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