London Villages

London Villages

Due to a train strike, the advertised walk to Clerkenwell on 8 May has regrettably had to be cancelled. 

We had planned to restart our walks after Easter, but, among other issues, the continuing train drivers’ dispute has frustrated that. We will restart as soon as practicable. In the meantime, our leader numbers are running low, and we would be very pleased to hear from anyone who would like to know more about leading one of our walks.

The aim of this group is to explore either some of the individual villages that became swallowed up in the metropolis (e.g. Highgate, Dulwich, Walthamstow), or to follow themes (e.g. the John Nash Route, Legal London, the East End). The format is a walk punctuated with stops where the leader will talk about the salient features of the area, such as its history, architecture, connections etc. All members of LALG are welcome on our walks, but as we are limited by the logistics of a large group using public transport, applications are taken on a strictly “first come” basis.

Our walks are no longer than 5 miles, and include a break for coffee, with toilet facilities, and options for lunch – sometimes the whole group may eat together but more often members are free to choose their own venue, though the leader will offer suggestions. Members may bring a packed lunch if they prefer. 

We do not require members to stay with the group throughout the duration of the trip, as some may prefer a shorter walk than that offered, and others may wish to stay on in London afterwards. If leaving early, please ensure you inform the leader of your intentions.

We use public transport, and usually aim to complete the walk within the “off-peak” period. For the times we travel, Railcards may be used but Network cards are invalid. For those without an appropriate railcard, a “group” fare, giving equivalent discounts, is available for 3 or more travelling together. This must include the return journey.

Details of future walks can be found in the Group Events window. Due to ongoing uncertainty as regards train travel, we have decided to cancel our winter walk this year. We hope to resume in Spring 2024. If anyone would like to suggest an interesting part of London for a future walk, or would like to see a repeat of an earlier walk, please email the group contact.

When booking please confirm LALG membership, your email address and, ideally, a mobile contact number.

The Group Contact has general information about the group only.

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See the scope of our explorations in London:

Here's a list of the trips organised by the London Villages Group since November 2006.

There are two power point presentations available from the 2016 evening party.  One a rolling display of the walks over the ten years.  The second a presentation on the waterways of London.  They are too big to upload but are available; just email Philip via londonvillages@lalg.org.uk

Thread your way through the labyrinth of medieval alleyways and courtyards that weave through the patchwork quilt of today’s City of London. Our first City walk was in the east, tracing the city from year 0 to 2000. This second City walk is to the medieval west, outwith the wall.

Is the Garden Suburb the same as the Garden City we know so well, or not?  Judge for yourself.  Mind you; it is just a suburb, not a village.  A 5-mile walk with time for coffee + lunch.

Download the file below for details.

This 4 mile walk began in Turnham Green, one of Chiswick’s original settlements, with a walk round Bedford Park, the World’s first garden suburb. The Civil war Battle of Turnham Green and Hogarth’s statue were followed by a stroll along Chiswick High Road, then along the lane where Linoleum was invented to St Peter’s Square, with fine Georgian houses. After crossing the Great West Road we walked along Chiswick Mall, the finest (and most expensive) street in the area. One Grade 1 listed house was on the market for £18.5M.

Once a bustling and highly lucrative Warehouse and Wharf nicknamed 'the Larder of London', the converted Hay's Galleria continues the tradition with many coffee shops and restaurants, an apt start to the day. On to Shad Thames with its overhead gantries and Butler's Wharf complex, now expensive apartments and offices, once an entry point for many goods, especially spices. We paused at the tidal St Saviour's dock to reflect on its Dickensian atmosphere then returned to the 21st century at the Tideway children's mural.

We started our day out with coffee in the atmospheric Crypt cafe of St Martin's in the Fields, moving on to look at the original site of the Eleanor Cross in what was the medieval village of Charing. The site is covered by a statue of King Charles I in what has become Trafalgar Square. Whitehall next, site of the principal government offices since Henry VIII established his court at Whitehall Palace in the 1530s. Under the Empire, many old buildings were replaced by architecturally grandiose ones, such as the Old War Office.

Peter Moore describes how he arranged and led multiple trips to Covent Garden.

Like everyone, the London Villages group was buffeted by changing government rules on social distancing, travel, lockdowns, business closures and safety concerns as infection rates raged up and down then up again.

Celia Lord completed her visits to Whitehall with two trips in January.  For the rest of 2020, instead of the usual repertoire of another three walks, only limited and rescheduled walks to Covent Garden were possible.

An exploration of the only part of the West End not previously visited by the London Villages Group. The area boasts two centuries of association with artists, links to the Bloomsbury Group and the hub of 20th century Bohemian life led by Augustus John, Dylan Thomas and Nina Hamnett. 

This 3 mile walk took us around the historic tranport hub, looking at how the existing buildings and structures have been adapted for the 21st century, and how this once-derelict industrial site is rapidly becoming a vibrant and welcoming public space.

Our September 2018 excursion took us into London's East End. Water, weavers, wayfarers, and the way into the UK for centuries of refugees and entrepreneurs.

The walk, led by Philip Sayers, included docks and locks, a mosque, a park on stilts, university refectory lunch and an historic conservation area.

The 3-mile walk began at Parliament Square passing Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey and continued through quieter, less well known areas of Westminster with its fine buildings ranging from Georgian through to the 20th century. 

Particularly unusual was Edward Lutyens 1930s chequerboard Social Housing on Page Street with an early example of access galleries around a courtyard. This style was adopted by other architects and became known as 'streets in the air'.

From the Bethnal Green tube station we visited the memorial to the worst civilian disaster of WWII and went on to explore the environs of what has always been one of the poorest areas in London, but enlivened towards the end by the unexpected delight of Victoria Park.

The legal world has been concentrated for centuries around the Inns of Court, located between the Thames and just north of High Holborn. The Inns are comparable architecturally to Oxford and Cambridge Colleges, consisting of barristers’ chambers, libraries, halls and chapels, all set within elegant courtyards and gardens. Our walk of about 4 miles took us around this quiet, elegant and green area of central London during November, December 2017 and January 2018.

In September 2017 our walk pieced together the City of London from nothing, through the Romans, back to nothing, through the medieval period to the ultra-modern metropolis that it is now. The Timeline took us to a significant part of the City wall, into Medieval churches and around the very centre of global commerce since 1660.  We finished at Faringdon which is to become a major rail hub linking our part of the country with Crossrail and a convenient route to Heathrow and the South Coast in the near future.  

Our walk was about 4¼ miles in length from Tower Hill towards Canary Wharf along the north bank of the Thames exploring the riverside parts of the four former hamlets of Wapping, Shadwell, Ratcliffe and Limehouse. Following wartime devastation and the closure of the docks in the late 60s, much of this formerly industrial area has undergone gentrification and we saw the one remaining dock, fine examples of converted warehouses together with historic pubs, private houses and two fine churches. 

Our compact walk started at the BBC's iconic building in Portland Place, crossed the country's medical heartland and featured a plethora of literary names and famous figures.

Intimately linked for 2000 years to the City of London by London Bridge, Southwark is, nevertheless, a place apart. A convenient place for the stink industries and dubious entertainments undesirable to, but necessary for, the City. Its history has been shaped by all traffic from the south into the City having to pass through it until 1750. It retains large parts of its Tudor street pattern, the only remaining galleried inn in London, Borough Market, formative associations with Dickens and much that is unexpected

Nash Route for the Prince Regent.  This walk was a departure from the normal ‘village’ - an area  described as ‘quite simply the greatest piece of town planning London has ever seen’. Starting from the iconic viewpoint of Primrose Hill, the route followed a slightly erratic course through Regent’s Park, past the BBC, All Souls, Oxford Circus ending at the Duke of York steps on the Mall. For 200 years it has remained prime real estate with much fine architecture. This is John Nash’s Via Triumphalis.

We saw some fascinating aspects of Regency London; Paddington, Regent’s Canal, Little Venice, Regent’s Park. Highlights include; a basin bigger than you have ever seen, a major historical trade junction to the watery north, Regency architecture, ducks and daffs. And the site of a major extension to Damian Hirst’s listed home; all underground, including a swimming pool. Whatever next?

Download more details below.

Notting Hill: now a wealthy residential area famous as a film location, for the Portobello Road market, riots and the annual carnival. Hidden behind the opulent facades we see today lies a story of exploitation and aspirations.

Pass Go! to land on Mayfair; the village of squares, squires and high society.  Go high-class window shopping, see embassies, find the original May Fair; and hear a nightingale? 

Our habit of making a slideshow for each trip was taking up a bit too much room!

So, we will make just one slideshow for each year and title each picture accordingly.

This trip led by Phil, then our newest leader, broke new ground for the London Villages Group: it began with a choral session! Fortunately this didn’t involve any auditions, just a rendering of sections of “Oranges and Lemons”, the full words of which were displayed on the wall of a pub in Bow, just down the road from the church with the relevant bell.

The September 2011 outing for the London Villages group was to Chiswick.

The London Villages Group visited leafy Dulwich in May and June, and discovered that despite being south of the Thames it is surprisingly easy to get to,

The March trip was to darkest Hoxton, Haggeston and Shoreditch.