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Free tour

City of London Tour: From Sugar & Slaves to Tea & Opium, The Hidden Dark Heart of London & the British Empire

Duration: 2h
Languages: English
Guru: Justin
Quality Verified Registered on March 08, 2023

Want something a little deeper than the London popular culture tours? I'm a former teacher, economist, analyst and a lover of history, books and ideas. If you just want to take photos to put on social media and don’t really like walking, then PLEASE BOOK A DIFFERENT TOUR!!! If you are intellectually curious and like to think, then let me take you through the streets of London, from the City (the old Roman town of Londinium), to Southwark on the south bank of the River Thames and then to Covent Garden, Soho, Mayfair & St James’s (5 different walks in total). I'll explain how London came from being a European backwater in the 1500s to the largest city in the world in the 1800s. Today, London surpasses New York in diversity and has become a playground for the rich. From clean money to dirty money, I'll tell you the back story behind London's rise, not just the official version! The good, the bad and the ugly: you'll hear about it all.

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  • Free booking and cancellation
    Free payment tour, no set price, booking and cancellation are free
  • Accepts electronic payment
    This tour allows payment by electronic means or credit card

Tour description

City of London Tour: From Sugar and Slaves to Tea and Opium.

Welcome, I'm Justin. But some friendly advice! If you just want to take pretty pictures to put on social media (and don't really like walking much), I am the wrong tour guide for you! My tours attract people who like ideas, history and books. If that is not what interests you, book another tour :)

I have 5 walking tours on GuruWalk: 1) The City), 2) Soho, 3) Covent Garden, 4) the South Bank, and Mayfair & St James, which together have a total of around 700 reviews averaging 5 stars (the highest on GuruWalk in London).

City of London is my flagship tour.


This tour takes you through the "City of London", which is not the same thing as London!

The "City", as it's known to locals, is many things. Nowadays, we know the "City" as the central business district, with its many iconic skyscrapers, towering over ancient churches (providing the chance to take some stunning photos). It's also, however, the "old town", built within the footprint of the Roman city of Londinium.

The "City" also has its own police force, ancient laws and unique government and once financed the largest Empire the world has ever seen, spanning a quarter of the globe.

From being a European backwater in the 1500s, London became the largest city in the world in the 1800s, the centre of immense power and wealth.
 
I'll tell the story of London's rise by walking with you along the English capital's oldest streets, many of which date back 2000 years.

The triumph of London is also often a tale of "dirty money", from the Bishop of Winchester's brothels; sugar and the slave trade; and the East India Company's rape of a subcontinent and hooking of China on opium. Come with me to learn all about London's secrets

Highlights of the tour include: 

  • The Monument: Centre of the Great Fire of London: an event that ironically marks the start of England's global dominance 
  • St Mary-le-Bow: A beautiful Wren church with a connection to England's first colony in the Americas
  • The Modern City: the Gherkin, Cheese Grater, Scalpel and Walkie Talkie.  Where the City stands in the world today. 
  • The Golden Triangle:The tiny alleys that housed the coffee shops of the 17th & 18th centuries frequented by stock market speculators and fraudsters but which also gave birth to modern capitalism
  • The Bank of England and the Royal Exchange: Financiers of sugar and the slave trade
  • Watling Street: Best view of St Paul's in London
  • The Guildhall: the political centre of the City of London that has frequently wielded more power than the monarchy & has a Roman amphitheatre hiding below it
  • Leadenhall Market: Stunning Victorian marketplace used as a set in a Harry Potter movie



The tour will end a short walk from the Monument Tube Station where the tour started.. 

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Highlights

What will we visit on this tour?

  • Meeting point:
    Fish St Hill, London EC3R 8AH, UK
    Fish St Hill, London EC3R 8AH, UK
    View on map

    I will be at the front of the Monument to the Great Fire of London wearing a black hat and carrying a yellow umbrella.

  • 1
    Outside visit
    Monument

    Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke's monument that marks the Great Fire of London

  • 2
    Outside visit
    Walkie Talkie

    London's iconic new skyscrapers: the Walkie Talkie, Cheese Grater & the Gherkin: Centre of the modern financial City

  • 3
    Outside visit
    Leadenhall Market

    Spectacular Victorian meat market, now a restaurant and bar hub. Film set for "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"

  • 4
    Outside visit
    Jamaica Wine House

    London's first coffee house and meeting place of investors in the Jamaican sugar plantations and slave trade

  • 5
    Outside visit
    The Royal Exchange

    Financial centre of London in the 1800s

  • 6
    Outside visit
    Bank of England

    Keeper of the national debt from the late 1600s; ensured England and then Britain never defaulted on its debt

  • 7
    Outside visit
    Old Jewry

    Centre of the medieval Jewish community

  • 8
    Outside visit
    Guildhall

    Political epicentre of the City of London

  • 9
    Outside visit
    Cheapside

    London's original Oxford Street

  • 10
    Outside visit
    St Mary-le-Bow Church

    Church with connections to England's first colony in the Americas

  • 11
    Outside visit
    Watling Street

    The old Roman road with the best view of St Paul's Cathedral

  • 12
    Outside visit
    Bloomberg London

    Michael Bloomberg's European HQ with Roman roots

  • 13
    Outside visit
    St Magnus The Martyr

    Fabulous Wren church with fantastic scale model of the original London Bridge

How much does this tour cost?

Free tours do not have a set price, instead, each person gives the guru at the end of the tour the amount that he or she considers appropriate (these usually range from €10 to $50 depending on satisfaction with the tour).

Tour opinions

485 ratings
5.0
By category
Professionalism
4.98
Fun
4.76
Expression
4.94
Quality
4.96
Route
4.88
Generic
5 stars
462
4 stars
20
3 stars
3
2 stars
0
1 star
0
Fiona 23 Feb 2024

Verified booking
Travelled in group - Feb 2024
A fascinating take on the history and development of the City of London and the Empire from a guide with a genuine gift for sharing his knowledge-and making it entertaining . Recommend very highly.
Justine 23 Feb 2024
Grays

Verified booking
Travelled in couple - Feb 2024
Justin was a brilliant and very informative guide. He spoke very clearly and kept a pace that everyone could keep up with The tour ran on time. Highly recommend
Maria 20 Feb 2024
Salisbury

Verified booking
Travelled in couple - Feb 2024
Justin was a phenomenal tour guide! His unique teachings, printed imagery, and fantastic delivery made the tour an incredibly valuable experience. I learned so much and enjoyed traversing so much of the heart of the city of London.
Camila 19 Feb 2024
São Paulo

Verified booking
Travelled in couple - Feb 2024
Justin is this very knowledgeable person who clearly loves his city, history and people! My husband and I are foreigners, but we could see that the info he shared was not known even by Brits, which was so curious! He made sure we were all together all the time and that no one was missed. Thanks Justin for a lovely and memorable time!
Francesca 19 Feb 2024

Verified booking
Travelled in family - Feb 2024
So much to learn! It flew by and would want to do it again!
Show 485 reviews

Who is this tour for?

Accessibility
Non suitable for people with reduced mobility.
Groups
Does not accept large group reservations.
Pets
Not suitable for pets.

What should you know?

Minimum of attendees
A minimum of 5 people is required for the tour.
Additional costs:
The tour does not require the payment of entrance fees or additional expenses.
Free cancellation
If you will not be able to attend the tour, please cancel your booking, otherwise the guide will be waiting for you.
Payment methods
Electronic or credit card payment is accepted.
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