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ALL ABOUT THE INSIDER

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Originally from New York, I have lived in London for the last 30 years and I am delighted to be an ambassador for this remarkable city.  I would love to show you the magic and mystery of the city I have chosen to call home.  Whether you are a seasoned traveller, a first-time visitor, or a native Londoner, there are endless wonders of London to be discovered. Join me on visits to one of our 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites, royal palaces, world-renowned art galleries and international collections, expansive parks, hidden streets and bustling markets and marketplaces. 

I also offer tours to historic and exciting destinations beyond London, such as Windsor, Canterbury, Stratford-upon-Avon and Bath. My tours combine knowledge, enthusiasm, and a genuine passion for London specifically, and history in general - join me on a tour that will surprise and inspire you.

Jennifer Hirschl

Join me, a London Insider, to reveal the history, and the stories, of London.

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Walking Tours and Site Visits

Explore the very best London has to offer in small, private groups.

Tours can be customised around social, historic, architectural and cultural interests.

I also offer tours to areas outside of London to some of England's most historic sites, such as Windsor, Canterbury, Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, Salisbury and Stonehenge.

 Below are some examples of the walking tours, site visits and excursions that I offer.

Please contact me to discuss a bespoke tour.

LONDON

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St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's is our national church of commemoration and celebration, where military and political heroes are buried side-by-side with artists and artisans, and where people come together to celebrate and to mourn, regardless of race, religion or creed. Visit Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece, stand beneath and climb its magnificent dome, a lasting symbol of London's resilience. Discover the story of how St Paul's rose from the ashes of the Great Fire of London, how it survived the Blitz during World War II and the enduring connection between St Paul's and the American community here in the UK.  Hear about the important and significant events that have taken place here over the centuries, including funerals of notable political and military heroes, the wedding of the century between Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer - the only royal wedding held in Sir Christopher Wren's cathedral, and jubilee celebrations of reigning monarchs. Hear about St Paul's incredible inclusivity, and why it has always been known as the People's Church.

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Tower of London

Fortress, Palace, Prison - the Tower of London is a must see on any visit to London. This medieval marvel was first constructed as a formidable and intimidating fortress by William the Conqueror in 1070 and was enlarged and enhanced as a sumptuous palace with 22 towers and covering 18 acres over the following centuries by subsequent monarchs. It has been a prison to traitors, foreign Kings, English Queens and, as recently as the mid-20th century, common criminals. It is also home to the Crown Jewels - a collection of priceless regalia used in the Coronation of the monarch. This UNESCO World Heritage site is protected by the famous Yeoman Warders who live within the walls, and the legendary Ravens. Join me on a visit to discover the history of the Tower, its stories, ghosts and legends and hear about the executions that took place within its walls, and on nearby Tower Hill.

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WESTMINSTER ABBEY

One of four UNESCO World Heritage sites here in London, Westminster Abbey is the Royal Church. The foundations date back to the 11th century, built by Edward the Confessor, completed in 1065. The Abbey has been the site of coronations since 1066, the tradition being started by William the Conqueror following his conquest of England, and the last being that of our current Queen, Elizabeth II in June 1953, who will be celebrating her Platinum Jubilee - 70 years on the throne - next year. See the magnificent Coronation Chair, commissioned by Edward I around 1300 to house the Stone of Scone, and upon which every monarch has been crowned for over 700 years. The Abbey is where royal weddings have taken place, including that of our Queen, Elizabeth II to Prince Philip in 1947, and Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011. Join me to hear the remarkable stories associated with the Abbey and to explore this magnificent Coronation Church - its royal burials, alongside those of poets, scientists, adventurers and the Unknown Warrior - all of whom have made this church a place of pilgrimage for centuries.

EXCURSIONS BEYOND LONDON

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KENSINGTON PALACE

A royal residence that has been home to monarchs and members of the royal family since the 17th century. Nottingham House was purchased by King William III and Queen Mary II in 1689, and was altered by Sir Christopher Wren into a royal palace. In the centuries that followed, it has been adapted and enlarged by subsequent monarchs, though it remains an intimate, historic residence. Explore the King's and Queen's apartments and see where Queen Victoria was born, met her beloved Prince Albert, and where she lived until she became Queen at the age of 18 in 1837. The palace was once home to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, who has several touching memorials both in and near the palace. Today it is the principal residence of several members of the royal family, most notably the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children.

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BRITISH MUSEUM

The first national museum that was freely open to the public, the British Museum opened in 1753, and houses an extensive collection of World Culture - art, objects and antiquities from across the globe. Explore objects that have helped to develop an understanding of ancient civilisations - such as the Egyptians, the Assyrians and the Anglo-Saxons, and other objects which have helped in re-addressing our past, acknowledging our role in painful histories such as slavery and empire. Travel the world and through millennia on a visit to this extraordinary museum.

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National GALLERY

Housing the national collection of Western European art from the 13th to the 20th centuries, the National Gallery displays some of the world's greatest masterpieces. See paintings by Van Eyck, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Rembrandt, as well as works by Vermeer, Holbein, Velazquez and Van Dyck. See Turner's famous Fighting Termeraire, Constable's Hay Wain,  and Van Gogh's Sunflowers. Join me to explore the gallery and its collection, hear how it came to be established, its significance as a national collection and how it survived the onslaught of bombings during World War II. See some familiar masterpieces and discover new ones on a journey through the development of painting over 700 years.

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SOUTHWARK

Discover this ancient and historic part of London, a "liberty", where wharves, theatres, breweries, coaching inns, prisons and alehouses once thrived and flourished. Today it continues to be an area rich in diversity and culture, with links to Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens. Highlights include Shakespeare's Globe, Borough Market and Tate Modern. Join me on a walking tour to discover Southwark's history, past and present. 

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LEGAL LONDON

The legal profession in England is unique: here, the profession is divided into two distinct fields: Solicitors and Barristers. Traditionally, Solicitors dealt with most legal matters, whereas Barristers would be engaged as an advocate to represent, defend or argue a case in court, though there is considerable overlap in the professions today. Historically, Barristers resided in "Inns of Court", where they would live, study and practise. Join me on a tour exploring the four medieval Inns of Court, and step back in time to hear stories about the Knights Templar, Queen Elizabeth I, John Donne and Charles Dickens, all of whom have connections to the inns.

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CITY OF LONDON

The oldest part of Greater London, the City dates back to the Roman conquest of 43AD. Originally protected by a brick wall, remains of which can still be seen, and covering roughly 1 square mile, the City has a rich history as the financial centre of the capital, which has been shaped by invasion, trading, immigration, natural disaster, expansion, and later collapse, of empire.  Join me on a walk through the ancient streets, where old meets new - where modern-day skyscrapers dwarf ancient stone buildings -  to see how the City has changed, and how it has stayed the same, over the last 2000 years.

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Spitalfields

This ancient area of London, lying outside the City walls, has been home to immigrant communities since the 17th century when French Huguenot Protestants fleeing persecution by Catholics in their home country settled here. Bringing skilled silk weavers, watchmakers and goldsmiths, their presence shaped much of the area, which later became home to further waves of immigrants: Irish, Russian and Eastern European Jews, and Bangladeshis all found refuge and built communities here. They made their home in this part of London over the centuries that followed, creating a rich and diverse mix of cultures contributing to food, street art, commerce and politics. Walk along Georgian streets, whose simple, elegant buildings are a stark contrast to the modern skyscrapers nearby.

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westminster

The centre of government and the heart of Royal London.  Parliament Square is home to one of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites here in our capital city - incorporating the Houses of Parliament, St Margaret's Church and Westminster Abbey. Dating back 1000 years, the City of Westminster is the royal centre of London, where Edward the Confessor first built his palace and monastery and where you will find Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace, and Royal Horse Guards Parade. It is also the seat of government where you will find all three branches of government: the legislature (Houses of Parliament), the executive (10 Downing Street) and the judiciary (Supreme Court). Whitehall, named for the former Palace of Henry VIII that was sited here, is commonly known as "the Corridor of Power" due to the numerous government offices that are located along this road. Whitehall extends between Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square, the physical and ideological centre of London, where East and West come together. Explore the political and religious history of this ancient borough.

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Covent Garden

The area of Covent Garden began as part of the Anglo-Saxon town of Lundenwic during the 7th- 9th centuries, and later became the kitchen garden of the Benedictine monks at Westminster Abbey. In the 17th century, theatres were established here, and a fruit and vegetable market occupied the central square until the 1970s when it moved to Battersea. Today, this bustling piazza, with its high-end shops, street entertainers and cafes is a centre of art and culture with the beating heart of London theatre at its core.  Discover the history of British theatre, its royal connections, its ghost stories, and rich literary connections such as Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens. Hear about the origins of the Metropolitan Police at the Bow Street Police Museum, and visit the magnificent Floral Hall at the Royal Opera House, a reminder of the original Covent Garden Market. Explore the filming locations of blockbuster films such as the Harry Potter franchise, Mary Poppins Returns, Bridget Jones's Diary, A Streetcat Named Bob and the James Bond movie Spectre, on a walk through the cobblestoned streets and alleyways of this corner of London.

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Maritime Greenwich

A Royal and Naval centre for hundreds of years, Greenwich is also home to the Prime Meridien, or 0 degrees longitude, from which time (and distance) is measured East and West. Climb to the top of Greenwich Park, take in sweeping views of London, and stand in two hemispheres at once.
A Royal Palace was established here in the 15th century during the reign of Henry VI, by his brother Duke 
Humphrey. Subsequently rebuilt, later monarchs, such as Henry VIII and his daughters Mary I and Elizabeth I were all born at the palace that once stood here by the River Thames.
Following the English Civil War and years of neglect, the palace was demolished and the Royal Naval Hospital, designed by Christopher Wren, was built in its place. 
Rich in Maritime history, Greenwich is also home to the Cutty Sark, a rare surviving Tea Clipper from the 19th century. Visit the magnificent Painted Hall, the Queen's House, and the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

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Clerkenwell

This ancient area of London has monastic origins, going back to the Knights Hospitaller in the 11th century. Taking its name from the nearby Clerk's Well, it is where monks would perform mystery plays based on stories from the bible. 
Today the area is teeming with architects, designers and dynamic restaurants that specialise in "nose-to-tail" eating due to the proximity of Smithfield Meat Market, the last surviving wholesale market in central London.
Clerkenwell has a long association with radicals - from Lollards in the 16th century to Communists in the early 20th century - Vladmir Lenin and a young Joseph Stalin are said to have met in the Crown and Anchor pub on Clerkenwell Green, near to the Marx Memorial Library. Clerkenwell was once a notorious unlawful slum, providing inspiration for Dickens' Oliver Twist, much of which is set in this part of London. However, the Industrial Revolution brought new life to this area, bringing Italian immigrants who were clockmakers and jewellers. Discover hidden gems in London's diamond district with royal connections dating back to Elizabeth I

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Hampton court palace

Perhaps best known as the sumptuous home of King Henry VIII, this magnificent palace was originally begun by Cardinal Wolsey, who gifted it to the king. It was here that Henry demonstrated his great power and influence through expensive art and tapestries that lined the walls, lavish banquets and extravagant court fetes. The Great Hall is the only surviving hall built by Henry VIII, and is where Hamlet and Macbeth were first performed by Shakespeare's company for King James I in the early 1600s.
The medieval buildings were adapted and expanded by Christopher Wren for King William III and Queen Mary II in the the late 17th century, as were the gardens and famous maze. It was continuously occupied by royalty until George II in 1730s, who was the last monarch to live in the palace. 
Explore centuries of royal history, hear the love stories, the ghost stories, and the remarkable survival of one of England's great royal palaces.

 

EXCURSIONS BEYOND LONDON

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Windsor CASTLE

Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest continuously inhabited castle in the World. With nearly 1000 years of history, the castle is not just part of the past, it is very much connected to the present. 39 monarchs have lived here, and in addition to being the home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Windsor Castle is very much a working palace, hosting visits from foreign heads of state.
St George's Chapel - the spiritual home of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest and highest order of chivalry - has also been host to numerous Royal weddings, including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (aka Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) in 2018. A trip to Windsor can be combined with a visit to nearby Runnymeade, where Magna Carta was sealed by King John in 1215. 

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CANTERBURY

Since 597AD, when St Augustine arrived on a mission from the Pope in Rome, to convert the Anglo-Saxons, Canterbury has been the centre of Christianity in England. The cathedral is the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Today it is part of a World Heritage Site, and famous for the martyrdom of Saint Thomas Beckett, murdered in his cathedral, following his dispute with King Henry II.  Join me on a visit to this remarkable ancient market town, discover its unique religious and architectural history and the connections it has to the pilgrims of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales  and the playwright Christopher Marlowe.

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BATH

In the 1st century AD, following the discovery of natural hot springs, the Romans founded the city of Bath, using the springs as a thermal spa. The waters of Bath have always attracted visitors; in the 18th century, the city was redeveloped, becoming a popular destination with the aristocracy.  The classical architecture, uniform fabric of Bath Stone, and town planning are just a few of the reasons for Bath's designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Jane Austen fans will recognise it as a setting for her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, and delight in the annual Jane Austen Festival held every September. Bath is a hugely popular filming location, and will be familiar to fans of Bridgerton,  the Netflix series, as well as the films Les Miserables, The Duchess and Vanity Fair.  Enjoy a walk through the historic sites and architectural delights of this ancient spa town, and encounter the colourful figures connected to its history.
 

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Stratford-upon-avon

The birthplace of England's greatest, and most prolific, playwright, William Shakespeare. Visit some of the most significant places in Shakespeare's life - where he was born, the church where he was baptised, and later buried, the school he attended, the home he lived in with his wife, Anne Hathaway and their three children, and the places and theatres that have since become associated and closely connected to the Bard. Full of original 16th century buildings, a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon is hugely rewarding for lovers of Shakespeare, architecture and English history

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salisbury


The market town of Salisbury grew up around the cathedral, whose foundation stone was laid in 1220. Salisbury Cathedral is notable for its architecture, entirely of the 13th century, and its extraordinary spire which stretches to the sky at some 404 feet, the tallest in the UK. It has stood for over 800 years, houses the oldest working clock in the world as well as the best preserved copy of Magna Carta. The setting of the Cathedral in its wide, expansive close, has inspired many artists - most notably the painter John Constable, who made almost 60 watercolours, drawings and oil paintings of the cathedral. The market town of Salisbury retains many of its medieval features, including one of four original market crosses, which can be explored on a walking tour of the city.

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Oxford


The dreaming spires of Oxford have attracted visitors for centuries. One of the oldest universities in the world, teaching at Oxford dates back to the 11th century. Since that time, Oxford has educated 28 British Prime Ministers, over 30 International leaders, 55 Nobel Prize Winners and 120 Olympic Medal Winners. It is steeped in history and legend, and the magnificent architecture has provided the backdrop to numerous films - Harry Potter fans in particular will delight in being able to visit the various filming locations.
 

INSIDER BLOG

These pages will be filled with observations, insights and musings - on the ​unusual and the everyday - people, places, phrases and happenings that often make us stop and wonder, or which are often overlooked because they are so familiar that we barely give them a second thought. I will also visit some of my favourite highlights of the city, which can be explored in further depth on one of my walking tours. Visit the TOURS page for more details.

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CONTACT ME

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Jennifer Hirschl
MITG APTG

+44 (0)7739172568

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