Reviewed by David Savage
Free Tours of London offer 3 FREE walking tours in London exploring different aspects of our capital city and on Friday 5 June I set off for London to experience the tours for myself. The three tours they offer are Royal Tour, Old City Tour and Jack the Ripper Tour.
My second tour of the day was the Old City Tour which runs every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday starting at 4pm, so I headed off to Temple tube station where the tour starts (just outside the station entrance, look for the guide with the large orange umbrella). On this occasion our tour guide was Richard.
The Old City Tour takes you on a tour through the older parts of London with most of it in the City of London (a one square mile portion of London, a city within a city that has its own government and police force separate from the rest of London). The Old City Tour covers over 2000 years of British history and takes you to the Royal Courts of Justice, Temple Church, St Paul’s Cathedral, Monument, Millennium Bridge, the Shard, London Bridge, Tower Bridge and finishing at the Tower of London.
Before starting the tour Richard introduced himself, explained how the tours worked and what places we would be visiting and at 4pm we set off on our 2½ hour walk around the centre of London.
At every stop Richard gave us a brief history of the place including the oldest company logo in the world that is still in use today, the strangely quiet and peaceful Inner Temple where you can learn more about the origins and the Knights Templar and what is probably the world’s oldest system of banking. After the tour finished the guides take a group photo which will appear of their Facebook page and then we were invited for a fish and chips meal.
Overall, this is another excellent tour. The tour explains lots and is obviously well researched by the guide who clearly takes pride in his job.
The people on the tour were from all over the world and of various age groups so appeals to everyone whether you are a student, a foreign national looking to learn more about British history or a British national looking to learn more about our own history.
The tour guide, Richard, was very approachable and friendly and answered any questions. He was humorous, a very confident speaker and all the information was delivered in more of a conversational manner rather than being lectured at making if fun and interesting rather than boring and long winded. Richard also made sure to give people time to take any pictures and there was no feeling of being rushed through.
At 2½ hours long there is lot of walking so make sure you wear comfortable shoes and make sure you bring a bottle of water as on the day I visited we were very lucky with the weather and it was very hot.
So as this is a free tour how to the guides earn a living? Well the simple answer is that you effectively tip the guide, paying what you think the tour and the guide are worth. So if you didn’t like the tour or you feel the guide wasn’t any good you pay nothing, but if like me you found it interesting and insightful, friendly and humorous and you take away some knowledge from it (I grew up and went to school in London and learned things that I didn’t know and saw a lot of sights that I had never visited before) then you pay what you can realistically afford and what you think it’s worth. So it is affordable for every budget.
I highly recommend Free Tours of London and it is definitely worth taking the time to do, worst case scenario is that it only costs you 2½ hours of your time, although from my experience, and that of the other people on the tour I spoke to, there is no reason you wouldn’t enjoy it.
There is need to make a reservation (unless your party are a group of 10 or more), just turn up at Temple tube station at 4pm, find the guide with the orange umbrella and off you go!
If it is more of an educational tour of British history that you want then this is the one to do. Not only do you find out about the people of the time, the buildings, the politics but also the lesser known facts like what the meaning of statues are, especially one we have seen and walk past all the time without actually noticing the little details. And as well as the history there are also some fun and crazy stories that will have you laughing at the absurdity of them, but then fact is always stranger than fiction!
Thank you Richard for a fun and informative tour.
If you would like to take the Free Tours of London Old City Tour Tour just turn up at Temple tube station on a every Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday at 4pm. For more information visit www.freetoursoflondon.com.