London walks: Charles Dickens

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A tour of Dickensian landmarks with plenty of pubs


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Dickens’s house

Start at 48 Doughty St (now The Charles Dickens Museum) (S). Dickens lived here from 1837 to 1839, completing ‘The Pickwick Papers’ and writing ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘Nicholas Nickleby’. It marks the threshold of his literary superstardom.

Gray’s Inn

Dickens worked as a clerk here (1) in 1828, and it features in several of his books including ‘David Copperfield’ and ‘Great Expectations’. Turn left to Barnard’s Inn, where Pip has rooms in ‘Great Expectations’.

Saffron Hill

Cross the north of the site of the Fleet Prison (2), where Mr Pickwick is imprisoned for debt, and take a detour by Saffron Hill (3) – where Fagin has his lair and the site of Bill Sikes’s local, the Three Cripples, in ‘Oliver Twist’ – and Snow Hill (4), where Mr Squeers interviews in the Saracen’s Head tavern (denoted by a blue plaque) in ‘Nicholas Nickleby’. Pass the Old Bailey (5), once the site of Newgate Prison, where Fagin is hanged.

St Paul’s

Go to St Paul’s (6), where David takes Peggoty in ‘David Copperfield’, then towards The George and Vulture Inn (now a restaurant) in Lombard St, seen in ‘The Pickwick Papers’.

Borough

Cross London Bridge to Borough, where you can find yourself some wittles – like the farmer in ‘The Pickwick Papers’ ‘… refreshing himself with cold beef and porter, after the fatigues of the Borough market’ (7). The area is full of ghosts for Dickens, and many of the streets are named after his characters. The Marshalsea stood here, where his father was imprisoned for debt, and in which a large part of ‘Little Dorrit’ is set. Borough High Street contained the White Hart Inn, where Mr Pickwick meets Sam Weller, and the George Inn (8), as seen in ‘Little Dorrit’ and the only surviving galleried coaching inn in London – well worth a pint (we gave it five stars, no less!). Otherwise, refresh yourself in the Charles Dickens pub (E) on Union Street.

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