Explore the City's Ancient Alleyways in the Footsteps of Charles Dickens
St Paul's Underground Exit
You should be standing at the top of the stairs exiting St Paul's Underground Station. In front of you, just across the road, is a brick flower bed.
Welcome to Charles Dickens's London. My name is Brian Cookson and I have lived here even longer than Dickens. My hobby and part time job as a tourist guide involves exploring the streets of this great city. Much of today's London would certainly surprise the author most associated with London. But today we will also be exploring many of the ancient alleyways and churchyards that haven't much since his time. On our walk we will see actual places that Dickens himself visited and some of the places mentioned in his novels.
We're just about ready to go, but first, let me tell you how this works. VoiceMap uses your location to play commentary automatically. You can just put your phone in your pocket and focus on the sights. There may be some silence from time to time, and that's normal. If you don't hear from me, just keep going the way you were going. I'll give you directions to keep you on track, and you'll hear my voice at each location.
So, let's go. Turn around to the left now, and start walking down the little alleyway, away from the street. The Underground station should be on your left as you walk.
Dickens was born in Portsmouth in 1812. He came to London when he was 12 years
old. He must have had a traumatic childhood here as his father was sent to the Marshalsea Prison for being in debt. The young Dickens had to work in a Blacking Factory, sticking labels on cans of polish, to help restore the family finances. Later he studied law near St Paul's in a building called Doctor’s Commons.These were special courts controlled by the Archbishop of Canterbury. They were abolished in the 1860s as they were corrupt and out-dated. His experience here gave him a deep seated contempt of the law, and lawyers get a rough deal in his novels.
Keep walking. You'll hear from me at the iron railing up ahead.