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A Walk Through Dickens London

January 12, 2020
by the gentle author

An occluded Saturday in January when sunlight barely glimmered offered the ideal opportunity for a ramble through Charles Dickens’ London. Employing a set of cigarette cards from 1927 which Libby Hall kindly gave me for Christmas as my guide, I set out on a circular walk from Spitalfields through the City to Holborn, returning along Bankside, to photograph those locations which remain today.

Dean’s Court, EC4

Staple Inn, WC1

2 South Square, Gray’s Inn, WC1

48 Doughty St, WC1

57-58 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2

13-14 Portsmouth St, WC2

Water Gate, Essex St, WC2

London Bridge Steps, Montague Close, SE1

You may also like to take a look at

Dickens in Wapping, Shadwell and Limehouse

Charles Dickens’ Inkwell

18 Responses leave one →
  1. January 12, 2020

    It’s wonderful seeing these illustrations and photos – and to know there’s still some of Dickens’ London left.

  2. January 12, 2020

    Nice to see so many survivals. It must have been a very satisfying walk.

  3. Jill Wilson permalink
    January 12, 2020

    Another brilliantly appropriate gift from Libby (I have just been reading the story of the Dickens inkwell) and great to see that so many of the locations survived the war and the scourge of redevelopment.

  4. Stephen Skippen permalink
    January 12, 2020

    Wonderful history – worked in WC London for many years – now added to my list of spring walks – thanks

  5. January 12, 2020

    To paraphrase: “The man who is tired of Dickens is tired of life”.
    Thanks for tending the flame, and shining a light.

    Pip, pip, GA.

  6. January 12, 2020

    and it’s nice to see that printing has improved a bit since that relatively early four-colour process printing [I can’t really be sure from the scans, but may even have been only three colours

  7. January 12, 2020

    Dickens wrote in ‘The Uncommercial Traveller’ …

    when he was in Commercial Rd, “Pleasantly wallowing in the abundant mud of that thoroughfare, and greatly enjoying the huge piles of buildings belonging to the sugar refiners.” …

    and once accompanying a policeman, “My beat lying round by Whitechapel Church, and the adjacent sugar-refineries, – great buildings, tier upon tier, that have the appearance of being nearly related to the dock-warehouses at Liverpool.”

    … but nothing has survived, not even the church!

  8. January 12, 2020

    A most excellent walk.

  9. Pauline Taylor permalink
    January 12, 2020

    Great, thank you GA. I am sure my Frederick and James Greenwood, who were friends with Dickens from their early days as aspiring journalists and authors, would also have been very familiar with these scenes in London. James certainly wrote many articles concentrating on the lives of the poorer sections of the communities as an investigative journalist, so he walked these streets, as you do GA, and he was at the forefront of trying to improve life for them. Something tells me that you and James would have got along very well, he was often to be found in the Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street where he would entertain his fellow imbibers with stories and songs, I believe that he had a very good singing voice. Oh for time a machine in order to go back and listen to him.

  10. January 12, 2020

    Wonderful Story and stunning “Then”- and “Now”-Pictures! Thanks for this brilliant Analysis of Past History.

    Love & Peace

  11. paul loften permalink
    January 12, 2020

    Well who would have thought a packet of old cigarette cards could inspire a walk and bring to life the same streets that Charles Dickens trod. Perhaps some readers are not aware of how fortunate we are to have the presence of the Gentle Author in Spitalfields and his ability to be able to do this . How much would we have to pay for guided tour of these places on a cold Sunday morning ?
    Thank you for your work in bringing this to us !

  12. Annie S permalink
    January 12, 2020

    Very interesting to see the old cigarette cards.
    Did you know that The Spinet House who issued the cards were in Shoreditch?
    The cigarette company R & J Hill were based at 175 Shoreditch High Street.

  13. January 12, 2020

    How wonderful that so much from the past HAS survived.

  14. Jo N permalink
    January 13, 2020

    Unbelievably good work!

  15. Su C. permalink
    January 13, 2020

    I always felt bad about Nancy.

  16. January 13, 2020

    Amazing and Beautiful Vintage Pictures. Charles Dickens is one of my favourite writers. Thank You So Very Much!! ???❤??????

  17. Pamela StClair permalink
    January 13, 2020

    Thank you for sharing this information on Dickens. He is my favorite writer. I long to go to London, and would like to go to these places.

  18. Susan Henry permalink
    January 15, 2020

    This is so lovely.

    Plus it’s so reassuring that there are still places in the world where everything isn’t built shoddily and torn down 50 years later. Or torn down 50 years later even if it’s well-built. (You can tell I have a certain bitterness about architecture in Vancouver, Canada.)

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