Free tour

Soho & Covent Garden: A Tale of Refugees, Radicals, Revolutionaries & Social Rebels

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 economist now writing a West End musical, but also a history geek and lover of London. Let me take you through the streets of London, from the City (the old Roman town of Londinium) to Soho & Covent Garden. I'll explain how London came from being a European backwater 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. To access my social media sites including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook follow this link:

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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

Free walking tour Soho & Covent Garden: A tale of refugees, radicals, revolutionaries and sexual rebels, from Benjamin Franklin to Karl Marx, George Orwell, Oscar Wilde and beyond

Highlights of the tour include: 

  • Benjamin Franklin House: The London House of the intellectual driving force behind America's independence from Britain. 
  • Site of the old Red Lion pub: Where Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels were instructed to write the Communist Manifesto, a document that changed the world
  • 22 Dean Street: The apartment where Marx started work on Das Capital and three of his children died in conditions of extreme  poverty
  • The Dog & Duck Pub: Where George Orwell celebrated the publication of Animal Farm
  • St Anne's Churchyard: Resting place of a Corsican king who died in poverty in London in exile 
  • Old Compton Street: Centre of Soho's gay community, underground until 1967, when homosexuality was legalized in the UK
  • 1 Greek Street: Home of one the wealthiest men in London whose money was made from the slave trade 
  • Soho Square: Heart of London's French protestant Huguenots, forced to flee persecution in France  

The tour will end at Soho Square, a five-minute walk from Tottenham Court Road Tube Station on the Northern, Central, and Elizabeth lines. 

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What will we visit on this tour?

  • Meeting point:
    Embankment station, Embankment Pl, Lo...
    Embankment station, Embankment Pl, London WC2N 6NS, UK
    View on map

    I will be next to the flower stall outside Embankment Station on the Villiers Street side (going up the hill) wearing a hat and carrying a pink newspaper.

  • 1
    Outside visit
    Benjamin Franklin House

    The house where one of America's founding fathers lived before revolution.

  • 2
    Outside visit
    Royal Society of Arts

    Intellectual meeting place for London, with both Benjamin Franklin and Karl Marx as members.

  • 3
    Outside visit
    St Paul’s Church Covent Garden

    Famous Indigo Jones church and also the actors' church for London't theatre land.

  • 4
    Outside visit
    Gerrard Street

    Now the centre of London's Chinatown but formerly a home to high society clubs and brothels.

  • 5
    Outside visit
    Cecil Court

    Back alley linking Convent Garden to Soho and now famous a Harry Potter film set.

  • 6
    Outside visit
    Great Windmill Street

    Site of the old Red Lion pub where the Communist Manifesto was born

  • 7
    Outside visit
    Old Compton Street

    Centre of London's gay community; now out in the open after decades of legal persecution that only ended 50 years ago

  • 8
    Outside visit
    St Anne's Church

    Churchyard that is now a park on top of plague pits

  • 9
    Outside visit
    Dog & Duck

    One of George Orwell's favourite pubs in the area.

  • 10
    Outside visit
    John Snow Water Pump

    Famed for linking tainted water with a cholera epidemic and advancing medical science

  • 11
    Outside visit
    22 Dean Street

    The apartment where Karl Marx wrote his famous book Das Capital

  • 12
    Outside visit
    Soho Square Gardens

    One of London's oldest squares; originally housing members of the English aristocracy but later becoming a crowed home for refugees.

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

101 ratings
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Margaret 22 Sep 2023

Verified booking
Travelled in couple - Sep 2023
Joined Justin’s Guru group yesterday for his Covent Garden/Soho tour in London, and it was terrific. Lots of interesting, sometimes scandalous! information The time whizzed past, could have kept going for another 2 hours! Will definitely be doing more of them. My sister-in-law did loads of Guru walk whilst touring Europe this summer and highly recommended them. And I’m so glad she did. Thanks Justin
Patrick 21 Sep 2023
Park City

Verified booking
Travelled alone - Sep 2023
As the name describes it focuses on the various radicals and rebels that have lived and had an influence on London. Justin was a really engaging guide and really passionate about the topics. He is even writing a musical about one of the radicals he talks about. Big focus on queer movement throughout history of England (incl. Oscar Wilde, Alan Turing) political reformationists (Marx, Ben Franklin), and the monarchy (Tudors, etc.) I thoroughly enjoyed and thought Justin was a fantastic guide.
Gioia 18 Sep 2023

Verified booking
Travelled in couple - Sep 2023
Amazing! Thanks Justing 🙏🏻
Karla 16 Sep 2023

Verified booking
Travelled in couple - Sep 2023
Engaging and inspiring!. Thank you!
Júlia 16 Sep 2023

Verified booking
Travelled in couple - Sep 2023
Justin fue encantador, muy interesante todo lo que nos contó y fue muy cercano. Los sitios y los tips sobre personajes de renombre fueron muy interesantes.
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Who is this tour for?

Non suitable for people with reduced mobility.
Does not accept large group reservations.
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.
When do you want to go?
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