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The London Night Walk: a dark, immersive tour of Smithfield and Clerkenwell

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This event has finished Took place on: Saturday, 11th Nov 2023

 £48.02

As winter falls, join actors, singers and Dr Matthew Green on an immersive night walk through the slaughter grounds of Smithfield and hallowed alleys of Clerkenwell exploring how, over two thousand years, London went from darkness into light, with torch-lit performances in churchyards and courts, and a supply of piping-hot wine.

* The tour lasts 2 hours, led by bestselling author and historian Dr Matthew Green, with costumed actors and musicians hidden along the route, ready to leap out.

Roman London was pitch black at night. The medieval city, on a moonless, starless light, wasn’t much better, just pricks of candles in the window-slits. But, in time, as London cracked out of its shell and ate into fields, the city would be recast in glorious light.

Clerkenwell grew rapidly in the eighteenth century and it will be here, as the dome of St Paul’s arises from the sheaths of mist in the distance, that we discover — and experience — how the Georgians colonised not just continents, but the night itself.

We will venture down streets, alleys and courts once pitch-black and menacing but, from the 1700s, spectacularly illuminated by street lamps, flaming links, backlit window art — so beautiful against bricks smeared in seacoal — and vast public light shows and fireworks.

With London’s thoroughfares now ‘vast fiery threads stretching into the sky’ as an astonished Prussian put it and the bricks, pavements and leaves of residential squares mottled in brilliant light and swimming in shadows, Dr Green will resurrect — in startling, memorable detail — the bright nights of Georgian London from the jelly houses where prostitutes wobbled enormous multicoloured jellies in front of men bound in rope to late-night frost fairs on the Thames, this became a metropolis that never slept.

Victorian London was lit by gas then electricity but darkness returned in the blackouts of WW1 and WW2, and now, once more, entire streets have gone dark and as we contend with our troubled future, and the supply of energy becomes ever-more precarious, we may have to prepare for a return to the black.

On the tour you can expect to mingle with Bloody Mary as she drinks red wine, eats roast chicken, and watches Protestants burn.

Gaze up at St John’s Gate, Clerkenwell, as a drunken watchman yells down at you, demanding to know why you have broken the curfew, his lantern a pinprick of light through the battlements, arrow by his side.

Feel what it’s like to walk down an alleyway in Clerkenwell in the pitch black, the footsteps of a stranger right behind you, the silhouette of a link boy with his lantern ahead.

See some of the earliest street lamps.

Visit a tavern lit only by candle.

Hear the harrowing memoirs of a London link boy, crouched beneath a colonnade, torch illuminating his face.

And in Passing Alley, the confessions of the Clerkenwell mollies, huddled outside the tavern where they used to meet, mourning a love they could not obey.

Meet too the chairmen who had to navigate ‘the ruggedness of the unequal streets’ and those of the fair sex who had fallen into the pavement, and drowned.

And The wherrymen who could only look on in horror as the River Fleet dried up, along with their livelihoods.

Lantern in hand, the swirl of your breath in the champagne air, the tour will reveal the origins of our all-night city — a far cry from medieval London with its curfew — conveying too how it was not just the physical fabric of London that was transformed but, as well, the human faculty itself — in a mental and physical Enlightenment.


Contact and Booking Details

This event has finished Took place on: Saturday, 11th Nov 2023

 £48.02

Booking details and information at this website.

Reserve tickets at this website or send an email to contact@unrealcityaudio.co.uk or telephone 07796835429.

Disclaimer: All information given is correct at the time of compiling the listings. Any questions about the event should be directed to the event organiser. Photos and images used in this listing are supplied by the organiser.

2023-11-11 2023-11-11 Europe/London The London Night Walk: a dark, immersive tour of Smithfield and Clerkenwell An immersive night walk through the slaughter grounds of Smithfield and hallowed alleys of Clerkenwell exploring how, over two thousand years, London went from darkness into light, with torch-lit performances in churchyards and courts, and a supply of piping-hot wine. https://www.ianvisits.co.uk/calendar/2023/11/11/the-london-night-walk-a-dark-immersive-tour-of-smithfield-and-clerkenwell-359649 Smithfield Market,Grand Avenue,,London

Location

Smithfield Market,

Grand Avenue,
London,
EC1A 9PS

Map
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Nearest tube and train stations to Smithfield Market

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