Friday, 4 January 2013

More Gin, Vicar?

The Hidden West End

There’s been a cover-up.

Someone doesn’t want us to know what once went on here in this, the most obscure triangle of central London. The tempestuous history of a London quarter that stretches back beyond the Plantagenets has been buried under a welter of anonymous Victoriana and scorched earth brutalism. What we want to know is: why?

To find out we must fall between the cracks of bureaucracy, between polite borough boundaries of modern Camden, Westminster and Holborn, Down there we will root around beneath theatres playing jolly musicals, behind the bars with their cocktails and doormen. We will end up knee-deep in poisoned gin and prostitution. We’ll rub shoulders with murderers and executioners. We’ll dig around that most lethal ground – the plague pit.

We’ve called it The Hidden West End – Gin City, Seven Deadly Dials, the Slum of Slums. On the map it’s called St Giles. St Giles is the patron saint of lepers. Lepers and outcasts.

I walked the route the other day and something odd hit me: no statues. Not a one. Odd, that, on a London Walk. Usually we end up with a list of the great and the good to rival the cast list of a blockbuster movie. Here, we compile a roster of the wild and the wicked. Not the sort that end up commemorated in bronze.

The Hidden West End – Gin City, the Seven Deadly Dials, the Slum of Slums. Meet Adam just outside exit 3 of Tottenham Court Road Tube Saturday 5th January 2013 at 10:45a.m.

A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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