Explore the City's Ancient Alleyways in the Footsteps of Charles Dickens
You should now be entering the courtyard of the Guildhall. We've been walking a while, so please take a seat at one of the nearby benches to your right while I tell you a little about this place.
The Gothic building with the all the spires is the Guildhall. The building dates to the 14th Century and was financed by the famous Mayor of London, Richard Whittington. Just inside the entrance hall are statues of the giants Gog and Magog. In his essay ‘Gone Astray’, Dickens mentions how as a small boy he had made up his mind to seek his fortune. He wrote, ‘My plans… were first to go and see the Giants in Guildhall. As often happened, he used the experience of his journey for a scene in David Copperfield. The hero is often thought to be modelled on Dickens himself, who once said "like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield." On one occasion in the novel he walks from The Strand in Westminster to the Guildhall with his aunt, Betsy Trotwood. Sadly, bombing in World War II destroyed the previous giants, to which Dickens referred. They were replaced by a new pair carved by David Evans in 1953. These were given to the City of London by Alderman Sir George Wilkinson. He had been Lord Mayor in 1940 at the time of the destruction of the previous versions, on which the present ones were modelled.
The Guildhall has always been the home of the government of the City of London Corporation. Today, it acts as a grand setting for glittering banquets in honour of visiting Heads of State and other dignitaries, royal occasions, and receptions for major historical anniversaries. The Hall is Grade I Listed.
When you're ready to carry on, we're going to make our way to Gresham Street, which we crossed earlier. To get there, stand with your back to Guildhall. The building faces one of the exits to the courtyard. Take that exit and walk directly away from Guildhall.