Walk 80: Soho to Westminster Linear Walk: Sex, noodles, drama & politics

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 3.3 miles (5.3km)

Time to walk: Easily in under 1.5 hours, but we’re in London so are going to be stopping, looking, eating & drinking etc so it’s as long as you want to make it

Difficulty: Easy & all on flat hard paths

Parking: Don’t even think about it. Catch the tube to Goodge Street

Public toilets: There are some en route together with cafes & bars etc

Map of the route: None, but you won’t get lost

This walk has a bit of everything. Starting in Soho it visits some areas we’ve not seen before. It then passes through Chinatown & Theatreland to finish outside Westminster Underground Station

It’s also a walk for the senses with plenty of sights, smells & tastes. What it’s not is a quiet walk so be prepared to be jostled as we’re walking through some of the busiest areas in London, especially when we walked two weeks before xmas. Just when it seems to be getting too much we’ll disappear down an 18th century cobbled passageway you never knew was there & be the only person in the world!

So let’s go & explore!

Let’s Walk!

1. Our walk starts outside the entrance to Goodge Street underground station on the very edge of Soho…

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We’ll look at the history of the areas we walk in as we go, but Soho is part of the West End of London. Long established as an entertainment district, for much of the 20th century Soho had a reputation as a base for the sex industry in addition to its night life & its location for the headquarters of leading film companies. Since the 1980s, the area has undergone considerable gentrification. It’s now predominantly a fashionable district of upmarket restaurants & media offices, with only a small remnant of sex industry venues

2. Turn left out of the station. On the right’s a well known London department store…Heal & Son

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Turn immediately left into Tottenham Street – this area’s actually called Fitzrovia…

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Walk to the crossroads. Although early in our walk we were really tempted by the smells coming out of the traditional fish & chip shop…Gigs. But we were saving ourselves for an old favourite later in the walk

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Gigs is a well known chippy around these parts having served the local community since 1958

3. Turn left again into Whitfield Street. Across the road is The Hope pub & next door, another little gem…Pollock’s Toy Museum

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Pollock’s Toy Museum is a museum & small toy shop containing a collection of mainly Victorian toys. On display in six small rooms & two winding staircases are dolls, teddy bears, tin toys, folk toys, toys from around the world, dolls houses, puppet’s, toy theatre’s, optical toys, toy soldiers & more besides

Pollock’s was originally a shop & printers, dating back to the 1850’s, based in Hoxton, then a poor quarter of London. Benjamin Pollock’s hand printed, constructed & coloured much of the toy theatre material housed in the museum today

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The museum was created & the shop stock redesigned during the 1950’s & 60’s by Marguerite Fawdry. It came to it’s current location in the late 1960’s & the collection has been built up by purchases, donations from friends, family & the public. It’s an independent family run concern & is run more for the benefit of the public & to display the collection, than for profit

4. At the end of Whitfield Street carefully cross busy Goodge Street…

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Walk forward about 50 yards & then turn right before the small park into stunning little Coalville Place which is full of beautiful small mews houses. This is one of those walks where you can be in the hustle & bustle one moment & then in a beautiful serene place like this the next

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5. When we emerge at the end of Coalville Place, we’re in one of our favourite London streets & home to many superb eateries..welcome to Charlotte Street. Our route lies left, but first have a look to the right for a great view of the Post Office Tower

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Charlotte Street, formed in 1763, was named in honour of Queen Charlotte who married King George III in 1761. The southern half of the street has many restaurants, cafes, & a lively nightlife, while the northern part of the street is more mixed in character, & includes the large office building of the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi

We love it for it’s restaurants including the Michelin starred Pied a Terre. However, one of our favourites is the Greek, relaxed Andreas

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6. Pass the impressive Charlotte Street Hotel on the right…

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Charlotte Street Hotel is a luxury 5 star hotel which opened in 2000. It’s a modern boutique hotel furnished with 20th century, contemporary art & a Botero sculpture. It features the work of British artists such as Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, Alexander Hollweg and Vanessa Bell

7. Just pass the Hotel on the same side of the road look out for the narrow Percy Passage…

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This really is hidden London as at the end of the passage cross Rathbone Street & down Newman Passage at the side of the Newman Arms pub…

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This diminutive hostelry dates from 1730 & was recently known for homemade pies. However it’s recently undergone a real foodie transformation through something called ‘The Cornwall Project’, a venture created by Matt Chatfield, a Cornishman born & bred

A slump in the Spanish market for the Cornish catch & the seasonality of the tourist industry pushed Chatfield to create a permanent network & outlets for the producers of what he considers are some of the finest fish, meat & vegetables in the world. All produce is guaranteed to be on the plate within 24 hours of being caught or pulled from the sea – our kind of place!

8. Walk down Newman Passage to emerge into a wider cobbled lane. This looks & feels like a scene straight out of Dickensian London & you can imagine being mugged by the Artful Dodger & his mates (hopefully that won’t happen!). If you see another soul along here we’ll be surprised & that’s what makes this walk so different

More recently, the passage was a setting for a murder in the 1959 film, film Peeping Tom, which saw the grisly tale of a prostitute being picked up a punter in the passage (try saying that after a few beers) before being promptly murdered above the pub

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9. At the end of the passage (if you’ve escaped safely), turn left into Newman Street & walk to the end to arrive at Oxford Street…

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On reaching Oxford Street carefully cross the road & turn left…

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10. Turn right into Soho Street…

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…where at the end we arrive at the first of Soho’s squares which we’re going to visit today, the aptly named Soho Square. Built in the late 1670s, Soho Square was, in its early years, one of the most fashionable places to live in London. It was originally called King’s Square after King Charles II. A statue of Charles II was carved by Danish sculptor Caius Gabriel Cibber in 1681 & placed at the centre of the Square

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By the early 19th century, the statue was described as being ‘in a most wretched mutilated state & the inscriptions on the base of the pedestal quite illegible’. In 1875, it was removed during alterations in the square by T. Blackwell, of Crosse & Blackwell who gave it for safekeeping to his friend, artist Frederick Goodall, with the intention that it might be restored

Goodall placed the statue on an island in his lake at Grim’s Dyke, where it remained when dramatist W. S. Gilbert purchased the property in 1890, & there it stayed after Gilbert’s death in 1911. In her will, Lady Gilbert directed that the statue be returned & it was restored to Soho Square in 1938. Between 1778 & 1801 the Square was home to the infamous White House brothel

At the centre of the garden is a distinctive half-timbered gardener’s hut

11. Having had a look round the centre of the square, let’s have a wander round the outside. Walk to the church on the right side of the square near where we entered it…

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This is the French Protestant Church which was founded by King Edward VI by a Royal Charter of 1550. It’s the only remaining Huguenot church in London & noted for its tiled facade – 23 were in existence in 1700, at the height of the French refugee population following the 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The architect was Sir Aston Webb who also designed the Victoria & Albert Museum

12. Soho Square is home to several media organisations, including the British Board of Film Classification, 20th Century Fox, & Dolby Europe

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Sir Paul McCartney‘s company MPL Communications Ltd occupies No.1 & the basement contains an exact replica of EMI studio number 2 , the legendary venue at EMI‘s Abbey Road studios where the Beatles recorded. McCartney first came to the square in the 1970’s when he was in Wings & ran the band’s business affairs from here

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In fact we need to leave the square down Frith Street past the 20th Century Fox building on the right

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13. Frith Street was built around 1680 & was apparently named after a wealthy builder named Richard Frith. In the 18th & early 19th centuries many artistic & literary people came to live in Soho & several of them settled in this street. The painter John Alexander Gresse was here in 1784, John Horne Tooke, philologist & politician, lived here in about 1804; John Constable lived here in 1810; John Bell, the sculptor in 1832; & William Hazlitt wrote his last essays while he was lodging at No. 6. The lithographic artist Alfred Concanen had a studio at No. 12 for many years

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Samuel Romilly, the legal reformer, was born at No. 18 in 1757 & the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lodged at No. 20 with his father & sister in 1765. In 1816 the actor William Charles Macready was living at no. 64 &, over a hundred years later, from 1924 to 1926 John Logie Baird lived at No. 22 where, on 26 January 1926, he demonstrated television to members of the Royal Institution

Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club has been at No. 47 since 1965

14. At the Dog & Duck pub turn right into Bateman Street…

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Many famous historical figures have enjoyed the hospitality of The Dog & Duck, including John Constable, Dante Gabriel Rossetti & George Orwell. The pub was originally built in 1734 on the site of the Duke of Monmouth’s home. The present building was built in 1897 & is considered to have one of London’s most exquisite interiors of the period, characterised by thousands of highly glazed tiles

We really liked the look of a pintxos bar along here called Pix – the tapas we could see through the window looked amazing

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15. At the end of Bateman Street turn first left into Dean Street…

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Charles Dickens was also a regular on Dean Street when he was a young actor enthusiastically participating in amateur productions at Fanny Kelly’s Royalty Theatre located at number 73-74

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In 1845 he starred in an adaptation of Ben Jonson’s ‘Every Man in his Humour’ which met with mixed reviews. Dickens’ acting was said to be of debatable merit. His artistic contemporary George Cruikshank was also a resident of Dean Street & it was here that he drew the illustration for Dickens’s early works. Cruikshank is perhaps best known as a cutting caricaturist with scant regard for his targets. He was once bribed £100 for his pledge not to “caricature His Majesty (George III) in any immoral situation.” He obliged & instead created a humorous caricature of England which came to be known as John Bull

16. Now turn right into the narrow, but lovely Meard Street…

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The street is named after John Meard the younger, a carpenter, later esquire, who developed it in the 1720s & 1730s

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17. Walk to the junction with Wardour Street & cross straight over. On the building on the left’s the sign of a former pub, The Intrepid Fox

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Once a favoured haunt of the urban75 crew, the Intrepid Fox was a legendary pub on the music scene for decades. Once patronised by the likes of Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, the Sex Pistols, Zodiac Mindwarp & hellraising actor Richard Harris, in latter years the pub had become one of the last rock’n’roll boozers left in central London. With only a month’s notice given of its impending demise, a hastily assembled campaign was started to try & save the pub. but it was unable to prevent its closure in September, 2006

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The Intrepid Fox was founded by Whig leader Charles James Fox in 1784 who promised to dish out free beer to anyone offering him electoral support

18. After crossing Wardour Street take the first right into Berwick Street where there’s always a fruit & vegetable market. It also contained the street’s xmas market

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In addition to the market, there are many individual shops & restaurants along the street.

Named after the Duke of Berwick, the illegitimate son of James II, Berwick Street’s synonymous with the fashion & textile industry & also for its independent record shops, especially through the 1990s into the early 21st century (including Phonica records, Sounds of The Universe, Sister Ray, and Mr Bongo’s), however many have now closed. It was the location for the cover photograph of the (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? album by Oasis

When we visited, the Xmas Market had been opened by Joanna Lumley in her Patsi role from Absolutely Fabulous

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Look what they’s done to the poor woman!

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19. Turn left into Broadwick Street where there’s some public loos in the middle of the street if you’re in need. These loos featured in a sketch of Peter Cook & Dudley Moore‘s ‘Not Only But Also’. The sketch also contained a cameo by John Lennon

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Broadwick Street was notorious as the centre of an 1854 outbreak of cholera. Dr John Snow traced the outbreak to a public water pump on the street & disabled it. The end of the outbreak swiftly followed. Before this time the disease was widely thought to be caused by airborne miasma, but Snow’s findings showed it to be water-borne

A replica pump, together with an explanatory plaque, was erected in 1992 close to the original location. The original pump was sited at the junction of Broad Street & Cambridge Street (today Lexington Street), close to the back wall of what today is the John Snow pub. The site is subtly marked with a pink granite kerbstone in front of small wall plaque.

A house on the right has a blue plaque showing it to have once been the home of Charles Bridgeman, an English landscape gardner

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20. Cross Marshall Street to arrive at swinging Carnaby Street…

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Look up to the left to see the large wall mural. The Spirit of Soho mural was created by the Soho community & completed in 1991. It shows Soho life & is dedicated to the people of Soho. The mural depicts St Anne presiding over local notables; her skirt & petticoats show the map of Soho, craftsmen & London landmarks. Framed underneath are the portraits of Soho’s many famous figures. Dogs & hares are interspersed which represent a time when Soho was a Royal hunting ground

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Restored in 2006, the clock was reactivated by The Lord Mayor of Westminster & when the clock strikes on the hour the actress & opera singer Theresa Cornelys winks at Casanova. Casanova blows a series of kisses to Cornelys & Karl Marx takes a sip of Coca Cola

21. Turn left along Carnaby Street itself…

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Carnaby Street derives its name from Karnaby House which was built in 1683. The first boutique, ‘His Clothes’, was opened by John Stephen in 1958 after his shop in Beak Street burned down & was followed by ‘I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet’, ‘Kleptomania’, ‘Mates’, ‘Ravel’ & others

By the 1960s, Carnaby Street was popular with followers of the mod & hippie styles. Many independent fashion boutiques & designers such as Mary Quant had premises in the street & various underground music bars such as the ‘Roaring Twenties’ opened in the surrounding streets. Bands such as the Small Faces, The Who, & Rolling Stones appeared at the legendary Marquee Club round the corner in Wardour Street

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22. At the end of Carnaby Street turn right into Beak Street & then immediately left into Upper John Street. A coffee shop on the corner gives a knowing wink back to former times in this area…

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Upper John Street leads to another of Soho’s lovely areas…Golden Square

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23. This west London square was brought into being from the 1670s onwards. Before that the land was used for keeping horses. It very rapidly became the political & ambassadorial district of the late 17th & early 18th centuries, housing the Portuguese Embassy among others. This is situated on the right hand side of the square as we enter it

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Having walked round the square have a look at the interior which contains a statue of George II sculpted by John Nost in 1724. There’s confusion about whether the statue represents King George II of Great Britain, or King Charles II, as noted on the signage in Golden Square. Folklore states that the statue was accidentally won at auction, when the winning bidder raised his hand to greet a friend. The amount of money he paid was so low that he decided not to contest & gave the statue as a gift to the people of Golden Square

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Also within the square is a mixture of modern art. The giant stiletto shoe was our favourite

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24. Exit the square in the bottom left corner & walk down Lower James Street to the junction with Brewer Street besides the Crown pub & the Regent Palace Hotel…

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The Crown’s historical distinction comes from the fact it stands on the site of the Hickford Rooms, once the main concert halls of London. Mozart gave a recital here in 1765, aged just nine. The pub was also known as a popular haunt of American airmen in the Second World War

The Regent Palace Hotel has a very interesting light display on its wall…

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The light sculpture is called ‘Vital Signs’ by Spencer Finch & was installed in 2012. It makes visible the inner life & systems of the building by translating data streams into bars of colour. The ever changing colours show…

Violet – lift activity

Green – fuel cell production

Red – interior / exterior temperature differential

Blue – recycled rainwater usage

Yellow – total power consumption

25. Turn left into busy Brewer Street – it’s all go down here & be careful of traffic coming up behind you. Although people are walking in the street, this is not car free

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The street was first developed in the late 17th century by the landowner, Sir William Pulteney. It first appears on a map of 1664, & was built up over the following decades from east to west. It’s now known for its variety of shops & entertainment establishments typical of Soho, such as the infamous Madame JoJo’s which unfortunately closed in 2014

30. Further along is an unassuming NCP car park which is now becoming one of the areas most up & coming dynamic creative art centres

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Continue along Brewer Street. This area still harbours back to Soho’s rather bohemian & seedy past

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31. Look to the left down the narrow street to see the Maurice House Bridge…

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The street dates from around the early 1700s & escaped modernisation in the late 19th century so it retains its original narrow layout. In the 20th century the small shops that traded from the street gradually closed & from the late 1950s it became associated with Soho’s sex trade. The Raymond Revuebar opened in 1958 & closed in 2004. It still has a rather seedy feel about it today

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32. Turn right into the more vibrant Rupert Street…

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…& then immediately left into narrow Tisbury Court where several “establishments” tempt you to stop for a while & rest your weary feet – we have a better option for you coming up shortly!

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33. Our route at the end of the Court should be to turn right, but we have a couple of places to have a look at first so head straight on into London’s premier gay area, Old Compton Street…

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The street was named after Henry Compton who raised funds for a local parish church, eventually dedicated as St Anne’s Church in 1686

34. Our first stop is only a few steps down on the right at the Fish & Chip Shop…

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This was once the 2i’s Coffee Bar between 1956 & 1970. It played a formative role in the emergence of Britain’s pop music culture in the late 1950s & several major stars including Tommy Steele & Cliff Richard were first discovered performing there.

The name of the 2i’s derived from earlier owners, Freddie & Sammy Irani, who ran the venue until 1955.  The basement of the coffee bar had live music making use of a small, 18 inch wide stage. Lincoln & Hunter started putting on skiffle groups, the first resident group were the Vipers. It soon won a clientele attracted because of its rock’n’roll music, & for a time became “the most famous music venue in England”

Several recording stars were discovered at, or performed at, the coffee bar, including Rory Blackwell, Tommy Steele, The Vipers Skiffle Group, Cliff Richard, Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch, Brian Bennett, Tony Meehan, Jet Harris, Brian ‘Licorice’ Locking, Vince Eager, Terry Dene, Wee Willie Harris, Adam Faith, Carlo Little, Joe Brown, Clem Cattini (The Tornados), Eden Kane, Screaming Lord Sutch, Tony Sheridan

The 2i’s closed in 1967

35. Continue along Old Compton Street past the theatre to No. 20…

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Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett used to while away his days here at the height of the band’s fame

36. Retrace your steps back to where we joined the street & turn left into Dean Street. Karl Marx. philosopher, political economist & revolutionary, lived in poverty with his wife & children in two locations on this street, writing many of his works in the nearby British Museum Library. He existed mainly on handouts whilst all the time being spied on by Prussian secret agents. The well known restaurant Quo Vadis now occupies one of the properties

Look out for St Anne’s Church on the left. Although it looks like a substantial building, if you walk round it you’ll realise that the frontage is all that remains. Built in 1677, possibly to a design by Christopher Wren, only the tower & parts of the exterior survived the Blitz. A post war campaign led by Sir John Betjeman helped save the remains from demolition

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To reach the churchyard you have to climb steps to get above the retaining wall which is considerably higher than the road. This is because approximately 10,000 bodies have been buried here over the years causing the ground to be raised

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It reminds up very much of the Jewish Cemetery in Prague

37. Cross Shaftesbury Avenue (Les Mis on at the theatre on the corner) & carry straight on…

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For us now it’s a food stop & we’ve been saving ourselves for the chinese institution on the right that’s Wong Kei

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We’ve been coming here for over 30 years & the recipe for success hasn’t changed a bit. In the past however it was noted for the rude waiters who would throw you out simply for asking for a fork if you couldn’t use chopsticks! Today though it’s much more relaxed (unfortunately), although the “Upstairs / Downstairs” standard greeting remains. Expect to share a table with strangers – sit where you’re told! A worthy tip is to chose from the menu in the window before going in as they expect you to know what you want, eat, pay & leave. This is not a place for a long relaxed dinner, but it serves great, cheap & plentiful food

38. Suitably stuffed, we leave & turn left through the Chinese Gate into Gerrard Street. Welcome to Chinatown!

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The first area in London known as Chinatown was located in the Limehouse area of the East End. At the start of the 20th century, the Chinese population of London was concentrated in that area, setting up businesses which catered to the Chinese sailors who frequented in Docklands. The area began to become known through exaggerated reports & tales of opium dens & slum housing, rather than the Chinese restaurants & supermarkets in the current Chinatown. However, much of the area was damaged by bombing during the Blitz in World War II, although a number of elderly Chinese still choose to live in this area. After World War II, however, the growing popularity of Chinese cuisine & an influx of immigrants from Hong Kong led to an increasing number of Chinese restaurants being opened elsewhere

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The present Chinatown did not start to be established until the 1970s. Up until then, it was a regular Soho area, run down, with Gerrard Street the main thoroughfare. The area boasts over 80 restaurants showcasing some of London’s finest & most authentic Asian cuisine.

39. At the end of Gerrard Street turn right…

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…& then right again into Lisle Street which has another abundance of dim sum restaurants & crispy duck

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40. Follow this street for a couple of hundred yards, turning left into Leicester Place, passing the Prince Charles Cinema, which had a rather lovely greeting for us. This cinema is popular for showing cult films & marathon film runs

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At the end emerge into the vast commercial expanse that is Leicester Square

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Leicester Square was laid out in 1670 & is named after Leicester House, itself named after Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester. The square was originally a gentrified residential area, with tenants including Frederick, Prince of Wales & artists William Hogarth & Joshua Reynolds. It became more down market in the late 18th century as Leicester House was demolished & becoming a centre for entertainment. Several major theatres were established in the 19th century, which were converted to cinemas towards the middle of the next. Leicester Square holds a number of nationally important cinemas such as the Odeon, Empire, & the now closed Odeon West End, which are frequently used for film premieres.

The square has always had a park in its centre, & the whole area was extensively refurbished & remodelled for the 2012 London Olympics, costing more than £15m & taking over 17 months to complete

41. Head diagonally right across the square & exit it down Panton Street…

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Patton Street contains two places of interest. Firstly on the left’s the Harold Pinter Theatre, formerly the Comedy Theatre until 2011. It opened on 15 October 1881 as the Royal Comedy Theatre & was designed by Thomas Verity

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Secondly, & on the right, if you fancy a pint there’s the superb Tom Cribb pub

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Tom Cribb (1781–1848) was an English bare knuckle boxer of the 19th century, so successful that he became world champion. The Gloucestershire born Cribb only ever lost one contest, against George Nichols in 1805, winning recognition as Champion of England with victory against Bob Gregson in 1808. He also twice defeated the famed Jem Belcher, however, it was his pair of victories against Tom Molineaux, a former slave from America  that won him sporting immortality. These contests, in 1810 & 1811, were arguably the first significant international contests in sporting history

His grave in St Mary Magdalene Church, Woolwich consists of a splendid stone monument of a lion – a worthy memorial to one of England’s bravest, sporting heroes

42. At the end of the street turn left into Haymarket…

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This broad street connecting Pall Mall with Piccadilly was chiefly used as a street market for the sale of fodder & other farm produce in Elizabethan times. At that time, it was a rural spot, with the village of Charing the closest settlement. This practice continued to the reign of William III when in 1830 the market was moved to Cumberland Market near Regent’s Park

There’s a couple of really well known theatres along here…firstly the rather grand Theatre Royal…

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The Theatre Royal Haymarket, known originally as ‘The Little Theatre in the Hay’ was designed & constructed by John Potter in 1720. The theatre seats 893 patrons & is the third oldest London Playhouse still in use

Across the road’s probably one of London’s best known theatres…Her Majesty’s

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Her Majesty’s Theatre was designed by Charles J. Phipps & was constructed in 1897 for actor / manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree, who established the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art there. In the early decades of the 20th century, Tree produced spectacular productions of Shakespeare & other classical works, & the theatre hosted premieres by major playwrights such as George Bernard Shaw, J. M. Synge, Noël Coward & J. B. Priestley. Since the First World War, the wide stage has made the theatre suitable for large scale musical productions, & the theatre has specialised in hosting musicals. It has been home to record setting musical theatre runs, notably the First World War sensation Chu Chin Chow & the current production, Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s The Phantom of the Opera, which has played continuously at Her Majesty’s since 1986

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The name of the theatre changes with the sex of the monarch. It first became the King’s Theatre in 1714 on the accession of George I. It was renamed Her Majesty’s Theatre in 1837. Most recently, the theatre was known as His Majesty’s Theatre from 1901 to 1952, & it became Her Majesty’s on the accession of Elizabeth II

43. Walk down the side of the theatre along Charles II Street looking for a small turning into the beautiful Royal Opera Arcade which is the world’s oldest shopping arcade

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Designed by John Nash, the prolific Regency architect also responsible for buildings such as Buckingham Palace, Marble Arch & The Brighton Pavillion, The Royal Opera Arcade was built on the west side of The Royal Opera House, now the site of Her Majesty’s Theatre. The Royal Opera Arcade was ahead of its time, dramatically increasing retail frontage & making best use of space. It remains the forerunner of modern day shopping centres

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The Arcade consists of a covered walk some twelve feet wide extending between Pall Mall & Charles II Street. On its west side are eighteen (originally nineteen) small shops, each with a basement & a mezzanine room

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44. Exit onto Pall Mall & turn left, crossing at the traffic lights towards The National Gallery in the distance…

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Pall Mall’s name is derived from “pall-mall”, a ball game played there during the 17th century. The area was built up during the reign of Charles II with fashionable London residences. It became known for high class shopping in the 18th century, & gentlemen’s clubs in the 19th. The Reform, Athenaeum & Travellers Clubs have survived to the 21st century. The War Office was based on Pall Mall during the second half of the 19th century, & the Royal Automobile Club‘s headquarters has been on the street since 1908

45. The street opens up into the expanse that is Trafalgar Square, together with the traditional Norwegian gift of a christmas tree

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There’s always something going on here & it’s always interesting to see what sculpture’s on the empty fourth plinth. Today’s effort got the thumbs up…

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The National Gallery was also looking resplendent & is one of the great free places to visit in London

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46. Cross the square & then the road into Whitehall – you can see the Houses of Parliament in the distance…

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We’re not going to go into massive description of everything to see in Whitehall on this walk as there’s enough to command one of its own. However continue along past the various Government buildings & avoid the crowds round the always busy Horse Guards entrance

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47. One of our favourite London memorials is along here close to the Cenotaph…the Monument to the Women of World War II

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Now pass Downing Street where, on the other side of the road, there was a very noisy demonstration, although they look quite placid below

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48. Pass the Cenotaph to arrive at the end of this walk (although we do feel we could go on forever!) at Parliament Square & the entrance to Westminster Underground Station

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So in almost darkness we end what’s been a fascinating & really enlightening walk. We thought we knew the areas we’d walked pretty well, but London never fails to throw up surprises & secrets

The thing we know is that the next time we visit this part of the city, we’ll find something else out to explore. It’s superb so…

Go Walk!