Discover Official Walks & Talks

Dark Side of the City Guided Walk: Fridays

Crime and punishment

Are you ready to learn about London’s grim and gruesome past? Then join us on a tour that tells the tale of crime and punishment, executions and excess. 

Our tour starts south of the sedate St Paul’s Cathedral but did you know its churchyard was once a place for book burning, fiery sermons and hanging, drawing and quartering? On your walk, which takes about 1hr, 45 minutes, you’ll learn about:

  • Paul’s Churchyard, the medieval equivalent of Twitter
  • Paternoster Square and Temple Bar, where people were pilloried
  • The City of London Police: did you know they’re Olympic champions?!
  • Postman’s Park: a place for heroic self-sacrifice and many a sad tale
  • Greyfriars Church: a ruinous church, haunted by a wicked queen
  • Old Bailey: the former Newgate Gaol and a place for public executions - and a daring escapee
  • Smithfield: where martyrs were executed, by burning at the stake - even boiled alive - watched over, it is said, by a sadistic queen
  • Bartholomew Fair: a raucous festival the Victorians finally banned
  • Charterhouse: a peaceful part of London but where death lies underneath.

The walks finishes at Smithfield, which is close to the Barbican Tube station and home to several excellent pubs and cafes. Why not go on a tour of St Bartholomew's Hospital afterwards? Or, if you want to know more about Smithfield Market why not go on an early morning tour? Please note: children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Photos: courtesy of Niki Gorick

Nearly all the regular walks and tours offered on this website are just turn up and pay or free. For these walks no advanced booking is possible. There are only a few tours that need to be booked in advance (Smithfield Market, Leadenhall Market walks and Guildhall and the Roman Bath House tours) because of restricted numbers.

If you want a walk or lecture for a group of people, then please use our Find a Guide section.