Jane Austen’s London #4 | The City

For the original post in this series, click here.

I’m so excited to be writing another post in this series! It’s been so long since I last did one of the walks from Louise Allen’s Walking Jane Austen’s London, and I’ve really missed doing them – so when my mum decided to visit the other weekend, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

This walk started outside the Twining’s tea shop near Temple station, where my mum and I both went into raptures (as Jane Austen might say) over the delicious selection of teas on offer. It’s safe to say that we’re both tea lovers, so naturally we couldn’t resist making a purchase or two at the shop where the Austens used to purchase their own tea.


It’s quite clear who I got my love of tea from!

Just outside the tea shop is a monument to the Temple bar, which stood as the historic gateway between the fashionable Westminster and the commercial City. It wouldn’t have interfered with road traffic in Jane Austen’s London, but sadly it became a hindrance to today’s motorists and had to be removed in 2004 – but luckily you can still view the impressive gateway in its new home outside St Paul’s Cathedral.


The entire area of Fleet Street down towards St Paul’s is an interesting blend of historical and modern architecture, with brand new office blocks often just around the corner with buildings dating from before the Great Fire of London in 1666. One particular building of interest to me was the spire of St Bride’s Church, which apparently inspired a Georgian baker to create the tiered style of wedding cake which is so familiar to us now. I had no idea that it was such an old tradition, but it’s fun to think of Jane Austen’s characters eating a cake modelled on this beautiful church spire in their weddings.


And speaking of Jane Austen characters’ weddings, the final portion of this walk was particularly exciting, since it took us to the (probable) location of perhaps the most infamous Jane Austen wedding of all!

I’m talking about none other than the marriage of Miss Lydia Bennet to Mr George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, which Lydia writes of as taking place in “St Clement’s”. The location is very likely St Clement’s Church on Clement’s Lane, as it is just around the corner from Gracechurch Street, where Lydia’s aunt and uncle Gardiner lived. It’s not a particularly grand, impressive church, tucked away down a narrow street – but to me it seemed to perfectly fit the rather seedy nature of Lydia and Wickham’s marriage!


As always, it was so much fun to discover more about London in Jane Austen’s time, and how she wove parts of the city into her novels! If you enjoyed this post, make sure to check out the previous posts in this series 🙂




Jane Austen’s London #3 | Soho

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My third Jane Austen walk began on Oxford Street – which, even on a rather dreary Saturday morning, was packed with shoppers. It was popular in Jane Austen’s time, too – but for slightly different reasons. The site of Marks and Spencer, for example, was once a venue for famous balls held by high-class courtesans, along with masquerades and concerts.

A little way south from Oxford Street we came to Golden Square, which was home to Doctor James Stanier Clarke, the Royal Librarian during the Regency period. He seemed to take a liking to Jane Austen’s writing, and offered her the use of his personal library – a scandalous invitation to visit an unmarried man’s home which Jane, of course, declined.

In keeping with the royal theme, there stands a statue of George III in the centre of the square, surrounded by lots of lovely flowers.


My mum is also a huge Jane Austen fan and was visiting me in London, so she joined my boyfriend and me on this walk 🙂

From Golden Square we passed along Beak Street, stopping a little while at a particular stretch of shopfronts which have all maintained their original early nineteenth century style. I adored this rare chance to see what the shops Jane Austen visited in London would have looked like; for me this really brought Regency London to life.


I could definitely imagine the well-to-do ladies of Regency London purchasing their perfume here.

Next we reached Gerrard Street, which during the Regency period was full of coffee houses, taverns and lodging-houses for artists and actors. Today it is part of Chinatown – and naturally we couldn’t resist stopping for some Dim Sum whilst there!


There were several more period shopfronts to be seen as we headed back up through Soho. We continued up towards Tottenham Court Road, then along Bedford Avenue until eventually coming out in Bedford Square.

Now, in all honesty, I could have spent a long time in Bedford Square, because it has retained its period character so well. I genuinely felt as if I had stepped into a period drama (well, except for all the traffic snaking along the adjacent Bloomsbury Street, but it was very easy to imagine that the roar of the engines was in fact the clopping of hooves).

During the Regency period, Number 6 was home to the Lord Chancellor, who was convinced by the Prince Regent to appoint one of his cronies to the Chancery. Working for Prinny couldn’t have been easy – I would have loved to have been a fly on that wall!


And that concluded my third Jane Austen walk around London. This one really offered a chance to imagine what the everyday lives of Londoners might have looked like during the Regency, which was so much fun.


[1] Allen, Louise – Walking Jane Austen’s London (Shire, 2017)



Jane Austen’s London #2 | St James’s

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My second Jane Austen walk around London began in Leicester Square. Nowadays it is known as a hive of entertainment, with several cinemas and shops for tourists (including the Lego store with a giant Lego Big Ben!), and plenty of street performers to watch.

Interestingly the square has been known for its interesting shops and attractions since Jane Austen’s time; though the entertainment was more along the lines of Italian sopranos and displays of needlework back then, rather than the beatboxers and breakdancers of today!

Away from the crowds gathered in Leicester Square is the relative serenity of the impressive St James’ Palace. Until the Regency period, this was the main residence of the royal family – but upon being made Prince Regent, George IV decided it was inadequate for a king and ordered Buckingham House (which we now know as Buckingham Palace) to be redesigned and extended so that he could live there instead.


Just around the corner from St James’ Palace is a street of elegant shops fit for Regency gentlemen, including Lock & Co. Hatters, and Berry Bros wine merchants, where Jane Austen’s brother Henry, a banker in this part of London, purchased his wine.

Next door to Berry Bros is a shop front which captured my interest for a reason quite unrelated to Jane Austen. I’m sure those of you who have seen the Kingsman films will recognise this as being the location for Kingsman HQ in the films, and will also fondly remember the suits on display from the second film.


After that unexpected stop came the part of the walk I’d been most excited about. In all its glory (if you imagine the cars outside are fancy stagecoaches), I present to you the one and only Almack’s Assembly Rooms – the hottest ticket in Regency London. Almack’s on a Wednesday night was the place to be during the London Season if you were on the marriage mart, and tickets were notoriously difficult to come by.


One gentleman who would certainly have attended Almack’s is Mr Beau Brummell, Regency style icon. It was fitting, therefore, for a statue of him in all his Hessian-booted and cravat-ed glory to feature as part of this walk. I can definitely imagine some of Jane Austen’s more dandified characters (John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey, anyone?) dressed in such attire.


The final part of the walk passed by several gentlemen’s clubs, including the infamous White’s which features in many a Regency romance novel. Jane Austen’s brother Henry attended the club for a grand ball in 1814 which included guests such as George III and his son; a subject of great interest and pride for Henry’s sister!

And so concludes the second instalment in this eight part series on Jane Austen’s London. All facts mentioned in this post have been taken from Louise Allen’s Walking Jane Austen’s London, which I would highly recommend checking out if you’re interested in taking these walks yourself!




Jane Austen’s London #1 | Mayfair

As I mentioned last month in my bookish birthday blog post, one of the presents I received this year was Walking Jane Austen’s London by Louise Allen. The book contains eight walks around various parts of London which Jane Austen herself visited, or locations which are mentioned in one of her novels.

A couple of weeks ago, I went on walk #3 around Mayfair, and decided to blog about some of the interesting facts I learnt and locations I saw along the way.

The walk began at the exit of Green Park tube station, with the first landmark of interest being The Ritz hotel.


I could well imagine such an iconic, fashionable establishment being around during the Regency era – so I was surprised to discover that the Ritz was not, in fact, a hotel during Jane Austen’s time. When she visited London, it was in the Bath Hotel across the street that she stayed, because the Ritz was at that time a boarding point for stagecoaches. Jane wrote that she was not impressed with her stay at the Bath Hotel – perhaps she would have found the Ritz preferable if it had been open during her time!

Just around the corner was another landmark, this one very relevant to Jane Austen’s career.


Number 50, Albemarle Street was previously the address of publisher John Murray. Jane Austen’s first three novels had been published by Thomas Egerton – but after negotiating via letters with Jane’s brother Henry, John Murray agreed to publish Emma in 1815, followed by Northanger Abbey and Persuasion after Jane’s death.

After meandering through a number of streets which have largely retained their Georgian architecture, I came to Berkeley Square, where Elinor and Marianne Dashwood stayed with Mrs Jennings in Sense and Sensibility. In this square there was once a fashionable tea house, which also had space to sit in the gardens opposite. The building in which Gunter’s tea shop was housed is interestingly still a coffee shop today – but one of a rather different nature!

Here is the site of the old Gunter’s tea shop in modern day, side-by-side with an image of the square as it would have looked during Jane Austen’s time.

Berkeley Square

Credit: Ackermann’s Repository

During the final part of the walk I came to Grosvenor Square, which was home to none other than Mrs Hurst, one of Mr Bingley’s sisters in Pride and Prejudice.

This walk was so much fun to do – with every street I felt Jane Austen’s London come to life around me, especially as some of the buildings are still standing today. If you enjoyed this post, do let me know, and I will continue to blog about each of the other seven walks as I complete them!