Upon moving to London a few years back, I stacked up on local literature about what to do and where to go around town. Being in a city so rich in history, it seems you could never run out of places to go and stories to explore. One of my favorites is a book by Andrew Duncan entitled “Secret London”. I contacted Andrew to see if we could meet and talk about his perspective on this old, old city, and to help me track down one of London’s lost waterways, the Tyburn River.
Andrew is part of an informal group of history buffs and walking aficionados that meet regularly to explore the city. An Oxford-educated historian, Andrew lives in Barnes, near the Thames, itself adjacent to three significant points of interest: Hammersmith, the home of William Morris; Fulham, the ancient Palace of the Bishops; and right by the offices of noted English Architect Richard Rogers, part of the group of post-war architects whose work came to be known for their Hi-Tech style. See, you can’t take a step in London without landing on multiple stories.
Although it’s a closed group, Andrew was kind enough to invite me along on one of their excursions.
Secret London is a handy guide to help you “scratch the surface” as you walk around the city. It highlights things like the peculiar system of land ownership which has, in large part, formed the urban structure, or the gentlemen’s club culture you see in films and read about in literature – such as in Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days – this club culture is still very much a part of modern London. And it contains a multitude of other odd and amazing stories that will make your wanderings that much more interesting.
Even places you may think you are familiar with might surprise you. I find that mapping out a fixed itinerary based on a theme forces you to move through the city along a path you would not normally follow. And by doing this you encounter new things. So, inspired by Andrew’s Secret London, I followed his Tyburn River Walk.