A Dickens Westminster Walk

Route & what to see


A 3 mile circular walk from Westminster tube station (Circle, District & Jubilee lines) taking in places associated with the author and his works

From the station exit onto the east side of Whitehall and go northwards
At the Red Lion Inn the young David Copperfield tries to order a glass of the Genuine Stunning Ale. Dickens himself had done a similar thing and the present pub has a bust of the author set in the wall in commemoration. The coach in Pickwick Papers travels down Whitehall where Jingle points out the Banqueting House where Charles I was beheaded. The Circumlocution Office which Arthur Clennem battles with in Little Dorrit was situated in Whitehall. In Barnaby Rudge Sam Tappertit is established as a shoeblack in a shop under the archway near Horse Guards.

Right along Whitehall Place and left at Northumberland Avenue
When Dickens's father was in financial difficulty Charles was sent to work at Warren’s Blacking Factory by the river at Hungerford Stairs, adjoining Hungerford Market (now the site of Charing Cross Station). The Micawbers also took temporary lodgings at Hungerford Stairs before emigrating to Australia. Dickens's coffin arrived at Charing Cross Station from Rochester for burial in Westminster Abbey.

Right into Craven Street
The interview between Mr Brownlow and Rose Maylie which leads to the recovery of Oliver Twist takes place in a house in this street. A grotesque door knocker is said to have given Dickens the idea for Scrooge’s door knocker changing into the face of Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol.

Left along the Strand
David Copperfield buys ‘Mock Turtle’ from a ham & beef shop in the Strand for his house-warming party. South Africa House stands on the site of the Golden Cross, a coaching inn where in The Pickwick Papers Mr Pickwick meets up with his travelling companions to go to Rochester on the Commodore stage coach. David Copperfield also stays at this inn. On the south side of Trafalgar Square Northumberland House was demolished in 1874 for the construction of Northumberland Avenue. At the age of 8 or 9 Dickens became separated from his guardian whilst viewing the lion which stood on this building.

Right into St Martin’s Place
David Copperfield meets Mr Peggotty & Martha Endell on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields whilst searching for Little Em’ly. The National Portrait Gallery has a portrait of Dickens.

Go around the back of the National Portrait Gallery into Orange Street (formerly Green Street)
A shop situated here claimed to be Dicken’s original for the Old Curiosity Shop. In Barnaby Rudge the home of Sir George Saville is in Leicester Field (now Leicester Square). Mr George’s Shooting Gallery (Bleak House) is situated in the area .

Left into the Haymarket
Dickens acted as Shallow in the 'Merry Wives of Windsor' at the Theatre Royal in 1848. The performance raised money towards 'the fund for the endowment of a perpetual curatorship of Shakespeare's house'.

Take Charles II Street opposite the theatre and go left through the Royal Opera Arcade
My Turveydrop (Bleak House) dines at the French House in the arcade.

Right along Pall Mall
In Martin Chuzzlewit the offices of ‘The Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan & Life Assurance Co’ are situated in a first floor over a tailors near Pall Mall and the company’s chairman Tigg Montague has rooms in the street. In Our Mutual Friend Melvin Twemlow establishes himself in Pall Mall whilst canvassing for Veneering.

Left into Waterloo Place
Dickens was elected a member of the Athenaeum Club in 1838. It was here that he patched up a long-running quarrel with Thackeray in December 1863 just before Thackeray’s death. 'The Frozen Deep' was an allegorical play by Dickens and Wilkie Collins about a missing Arctic expedition. This was based on the unsuccessful attempt to find the North West Passage led by Sir John Franklin, who has a memorial in Waterloo Place.

At the end go down the Duke of Yorks steps into the Mall and cross into St James's Park. Follow the path ahead parallel to Horse Guards Road
The park was the meeting place of Martin & Mary Graham (Martin Chuzzlewit), Ralph Nickleby & his clerk (Nicholas Nickleby) and Clennam, Doyce & Meagles (Little Dorrit).

Exit into Birdcage Walk and go left, then right along Storey's Gate. At the end cross Victoria Street into Great Smith Street and go first right into Abbey Orchard Street
The streets around here were referred to as the ‘Devil’s Acre’ in Dickens’s ‘Household Words’

Go left along Old Pye Street and right at St Ann's Street
The Westminster Archives in this street has material relating to Dickens and the area.

Left at Great Peter Street and right along Gayfere Street into Smith Square
Dickens thought the church of St Johns to be hideous, like a monster on its back with its legs in the air.

Exit into Dean Stanley Street (formerly known as Church Street)
This is where Jenny Wren lives with her alcoholic father in Our Mutual Friend.

Go left along Millbank
In Barnaby Rudge Simon Tappertit marries the widow of a bone & rag collector from Millbank.

Left into Great College Street and right through the gate into Dean's Yard
Pip and Herbert Pocket attend services in Westminster Abbey. Dickens was buried in Poet’s Corner on 14 June 1870 although his own choice would have been in the Rochester area. He was buried in an inexpensive, unostentatious and private manner as requested, wishing his remembrance to be his published works.

Exit into Broad Sanctuary and go right into Parliament Square
Dickens worked on Parlimentary reporting from 1831 until 1836 although the Houses of Parliament burnt down in 1834. In Bleak House the chancery court case of Jarndyce v Jarndyce evenually breaks down in Westminster Hall. Dickens came in here after the publication of his first magazine article 'that the tears of pride in his eyes might not be noticed'.

From Parliament Square go along Bridge Street back to the station
The Pickwick coach crosses Westminster Bridge. On a site now occupied by Westminster tube Station was Manchester Buildings where Nicholas Nickleby applied for work as secretary to Mr Gregsbury MP.

Information from: 'Dickens's England' by Tony Lynch
'Dickens London' by Piers Dudgeon
Dickens Website:


london-footprints.co.uk 2012

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