London is such a fun city to explore. Charles Dickens spent a lot of his time walking around London. This is where he gathered his inspiration for his stories. If you’re visiting London you will most likely visit one or more of the sights referenced in a Dickens’ novel without even actively trying.
We decided to do a DIY tour and see some of the places that inspired Charles Dickens writings. For our first stop we took the Tube to Borough Station and from here we had a short walk to the Marshalsea Prison.
Take a Walk in Charles Dickens Shoes
Our first stop was at Angel Place alley. The alley is between the John Harvard Library and the London Institute of Technology. A walk down the alley will take you to the Marshalsea prison where Charles Dickens’ father was imprisoned for not paying his debt. Charles was forced to work in a factory to help support his family at the age of 12 because of his father’s imprisonment. Today you can still view one of the old prison walls on Angel Place. His father’s imprisonment influenced his writings in the book Little Dorrit.
The alley way that leads to the prison site is next to the library.
The George Inn
After visiting the remains of the prison, we took a short walk from Angel Place towards the river. You will cross Talbot Yard road and on your right you will see the gate to The George Inn built in 1618.
This is London’s only surviving galleried coaching in. Charles Dickens would often visit the Coffee Room at the George Inn. This pub is mentioned in his book titled Little Dorritt.
Walking towards the river from The George Inn we crossed the street at St. Thomas Street and entered the Borough Market Hall.
The Borough Market is one of the oldest food markets in London. Charles Dickens referenced the market in his book Pickwick Papers.
Right next to the Borough Market is the Southwark Chapel. Charles Dickens attended a bellringing practice at Southwark Chapel.
Continue down Montague CL to arrive at the London Bridge. Many of Charles Dickens’ writings mention this famous bridge. From Southwark he would have had a perfect view of this famous bridge. However, the bridge today was not the bridge Dickens would have seen. The original bridge was dismantled and shipped to in the 1960’s to Lake Havasu, Arizona in the United States.
One of Dicken’s popular novels, Oliver Twist, was made into the musical Oliver! The character Nancy, in the musical, is murdered at the bottom of the London Bridge staircase. Today there is a plaque to identify the spot. The steps and arch are remaining pieces of the original London Bridge.
Charles Dickens wrote a collection of stories called Sketches by Boz in the 1830’s. They were stories about everyday life and he references the area of Seven Dials. He also talks about this area in his novel Nicholas Nickelby. To get there take the Tube to the Covent Garden Station, walk down Long Acre to Mercer Street. The Seven Dials area has little shops and restaurants. From here you can walk down Monmouth Street and take the narrow street called Neals Yard to find some colorful coffee shops. If you’re not paying attention you might miss it.
Charles Dickens spent a lot of time in Covent Garden. He even lived in this area for awhile. Dickens wrote about Covent Garden’s piazza and market. Covent Garden is easy to get to just take the Tube to the Covent Garden station and James Street will lead you to the markets.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
Grab some ale at Charles Dickens favorite pub. Charles Dickens produced his journal titled “All the Year Round” at the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. The pub is on Fleet Street. To get there we took the Tube to Temple station, walked down Arundel Street and took a right on Strand Street. Strand turned into Fleet Street and the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is on the left side of the street right after Whitefriars Street.
Charles Dickens House & Museum
Take a peek at 48 Doughty Street in Holborn, London. This was Dickens’ address when he wrote Oliver Twist. Here you can learn more about his writings and his life, view his manuscripts and personal items. We took the Tube to Russell Square Station from here it is about 1/2 mile. Take Woburn Place to Guilford and then turn right on Doughty Street.