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The Tudor gatehouse to St Bartholomew The Great.


By Richard Jones

Welcome to my Secret London resource, a guide to the hidden, bizarre, secret and unusual places that can be found and visited all over London.

The guide is divided into six sections, each of which covers a particular geographic area of London.

To find places to visit in that area, simply click on it and you will be taken to a list of its featured locations.

The six areas are:-


"I love a bit of secret history."
Dr. Samuel Johnson

"What inexhaustible food for speculation do the streets of London afford!"
Charles Dickens

London is a city of secrets. Sometimes those secrets are hidden away down narrow alleyways or in tucked away courtyards. At other times they are hiding in plain view, on the sides or on the rooftops of London's historic buildings and structures.

In the case of the latter, people might walk past them day in and day out for years and not notice them until somebody points them out.

In the case of the former, they might have passed the entrances to the alleyways, passage, and courts on a regular basis and not bothered to venture into them.

The weeping statue inside St Batholomew's church..

The problem is, put simply, we tend to become so familiar with the streets we walk along and with the places we pass on a regular basis, that we switch to auto-pilot mode and just shuffle our way through our daily routines without bothering too much about looking up, down and around.

But, when we start to truly observe our surroundings, and the blinkers of familiarity fall away, revealing some hidden aspect of secret London, we suddenly find ourselves confronted by a wonderful array of curiosities, and we are forced to wonder, often out loud, "how on earth did I ever miss this?"

From then on, we begin to see London through fresh eyes, and the mundaneness of the familiar is soon playing second fiddle to the wonderment of genuine discovery.

And, when it comes to discovery, there is an awful lot of it to be done in London.

As Dr. Johnson so aptly put it "...when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."


I have compiled this "Uncovering Secret London" resource with the avowed intent of introducing visitors and Londoners alike to the unusual, the offbeat and the downright bizarre sites, and sights that London has to offer.

On my regular walking tours I feature aspects of the Capital's street scene that, if they're noticed at all, often receive little more than a cursory glance, and their full stories are known only to those who, quite often, have just happened upon them by chance.

Yet, the truth is, these little slices of hidden London are often far more fascinating than the well-known, and well trodden, tourist destinations, and seeking them out can be a truly thrilling and rewarding experience.

One of the most frequent comments I get on the walks is that people never realised there could be so much to see.

What I hope to do withy this resource is grown it to the point at which you will be able to find a quick reference to anything in London that catches your eye and about which you wish to learn a little more.


The Panyer Boy of Panyer Alley.

For example, how many times have you walked out of St Paul's Underground Station, en route to either your office in Paternoster Square or on Ludgate Hill, or bound for the Cathedral itself?

Some of you, no doubt, make that journey every day. Others, have probably only done so as part of your weekend or vacation stay in London.

But did you, as you left the station, happen notice the little boy, sitting on an upturned basket, nonchalantly pulling a thorn from out of his foot?

Maybe not.

Yet, there he sits on a carved stone plaque, trying to remove that irritating thorn, a fruitless task that he has been attempting since 1688.

What's more he's there to mark what was long believed to be the City's highest point!

How intriguing is that?

He is just one of the many pieces of secret London that combine to form this guide to the Curiosities of the Metropolis.


And you'll find many more discoveries like him on this resource.

You'll find drinking fountains and statues that hide away in plain view on some of London's busiest main roads.

You'll look afresh at old churches from which deliciously bizarre demons, dragons, gargoyles and grotesques scowl down, their features contorted in eternal fury.

One of the devils on St Peter's Church, Cornhill.

You'll uncover plaques and memorials to delightfully eccentric Londoners whose antics will bring a smile to even the most jaded, careworn faces.

You'll delve into hidden alleyways and tucked away passageways to gaze in wonder at some of the most unusual pieces of street furniture that, no doubt, made sense to somebody once, but which have us, today, scratching our heads in utter bemusement.

You'll be able to while away a few idle hours in some of the City's oldest inns and taverns, contemplating some of their wildly unfathomable fixtures and fittings whilst, at the same time, mulling over the stories of the more colourful clientele that have graced their timeless interiors over the centuries.

And, best of all, by making use of our collection of step by step secret London walks, you'll even be able to spend a morning, an afternoon, or even a whole day, discovering the curious wonders with which London abounds and digging out these golden nuggets of the past.


My main objective in devising this guide to Secret London has been for it to become the conduit via which you can uncover the city's rich, varied offbeat and hidden landscape.

A cartoon showing a group of people exploring secret London.

So please use the guide as you see fit.

Use it to plan a whole week of sightseeing, or just to find the story behind one of your favourite fixtures or buildings.

Let it help you discover some of London's most historic and hidden away pubs and let it tell you what to look out for once you cross their thresholds.

Just dip in to it and find something to do on a morning or afternoon off work, or on an outing with a group of like-minded friends.

During the school holidays why not use the locations we feature to put together a treasure hunt to get the kids out and about?

In fact, the Secret London resource can be put to any purpose you deem appropriate and, I hope, will really help you to appreciate London for the great and fascinating place it truly is.