London History Tour: Portrait of a City

Discover the city's development from Ancient Roman times to today
From US$520 privately
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
  • Guildhall
  • All Hallows by the Tower
Photos & Highlights
  • Immerse yourself in the narrative timeline of how London expanded from a settlement on the banks of the Thames to modern metropolis
  • Led by a historian, we'll discuss the city's remarkable architectural development and global trade's importance to the city's history
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Tour Description
Uncover London's tumultuous 2,000-year history in the company of a local historian on this walking tour, broadly covering the history of England's capital. Providing an overview of London from Roman outpost to cutting-edge world capital, this walk is history-focused, tracing the city's long, turbulent history and rise to prominence while visiting quintessential landmarks like the Tower of London, All Hallows-by-the-Tower, and the Monument, which marks the spot at which the Great Fire, which nearly consumed the city, is believed to have originated.

London City Tour

We will begin at the Tower of London, one of the primary symbols of London (and where we run a focused Tower of London Tour), which was built in 1078 to protect the city from invaders. Here we will discuss the Norman invasion and separation of the City of London from the monarchy, delving into one of the most interesting periods of British history. We will continue the walk with a visit to one of the few sites that escaped the fire (though not the Blitz), All Hallows-by-the-Tower. The church is the oldest known in the City of London area and contains remnants of the Roman, Saxon, medieval, and modern periods. It was also the place where Samuel Pepys watched the Great Fire spread across the capital, where William Penn was christened, and where John Quincy Adams was married.

Architecture Through the Ages

As we leave the church, we will pass some of the remains of the Roman and medieval wall and fort that was situated in this area. While making our way in the medieval streets of the city, we will discuss the architectural development of the square mile, from St. Andrew Undershaft Church which survived the Great Fire, the Blitz, and a Victorian refurbishment, to the Lloyd's Building and the controversial Gerkin. We will continue our walk with a visit to the fourteenth-century Leadenhall Market, where we will discuss the importance of trade to the history of the city and to the flourishing coffeehouses in this part of London. If time allows, we will veer off to Guildhall, the medieval town hall and the only pre-1666 secular building that survived the fire and the 1940-41 Blitz. This site is also home to a Roman amphitheater situated on the ground level of the structure, whose remains we may examine.

Interested in learning more about London during the Blitz? Take a look at our London WWII Tour.

Take Aways

Depending on the day and your interest, we may take a short walk to the third-century AD Roman Mithraeum, or we could proceed to walk through Eastcheap, in the heart of the City. From here, we will walk to the Monument, a large monolith, which commemorates the believed starting point of the Great Fire of London in 1666. The fire consumed many of the ninety-six churches that existed in this part of London, and the job of their restoration was given to Sir Christopher Wren, whose masterpieces are still a feature of London today.


Will we see the Tower of London on this tour?
While we do not go inside the Tower of London on this tour, we start the walk very near it, and we briefly discuss its role in the creation of the City. If you are interested in visiting the Tower, please see our Tower of London tour.

Is this walk accessible to wheelchairs?
Yes, the City is fully accessible, so wheelchairs are not a problem.

Do we need to bring cash for entrance to sites?
Most sites we visit are free, however, they welcome donations. For this reason, we recommend carrying some local currency.

What if it’s raining?
Tours operate rain or shine, but in the case of inclement weather, your guide will modify the tour so more time is spent indoors. It never hurts to have an umbrella on hand.

Is this tour good for kids?
Yes! We have some excellent family-friendly experts who can appeal to the learning styles of children. Please book privately if you have children under 13. Feel free to provide us with information about your children such as favorite school subjects, and hobbies. This way we can match you with the best possible guide.

Is this a walking intensive tour?
The tour covers about 2 miles. All of this is on even ground
Where You'll Start
(4.7) 186 Reviews

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Alex gave us the perfect introduction to our stay in London with his tour of the City Mile. Alex was engaging and attentive throughout the tour, providing detailed historical descriptions of the sights without overwhelming us, and asking us questions to encourage our participation in the experience. His expertise was evident throughout the tour, as he pointed out key landmarks and brought us to points of interest off the beaten path. We left our tour with a greatly improved understanding of the city and British history in general. We can't recommend Alex enough!
Chris gave us a first rate education about the history of London from the Roman period to today. His tour was unique in that he taught the history of London in part through the changes in London's architecture starting with the remains of the original Roman wall, then the Tower, Christopher Wren's redesign of London's churches after the great fire of 1666, to modern office buildings like the Lloyds of London offices. He included a timeline of London's history that was very helpful for context and walks through some of London's back alleys and hidden courtyards. We would be glad to work with Chris any time.
I found this tour a bit dry and long.