“London is the world’s greatest playground for the curious wanderer,” so starts Jack Chesher in his book London: A Guide for Curious Wanderers. By the end of reading his wonderfully illustrated book it would be hard to disagree.
Not that I needed much persuading. Many a day I have spent wandering through London’s oft deserted streets finding solitude in the multitudes, or as Virginia Wolf expressed it, as quoted by Chesher, “To walk alone in London is the greatest rest.”
So, my only reticence in picking up the book was whether I would learn anything new. I needn’t have worried.
Unlike many books on London, Chesher has opted not to divide his book into geographical sections but into four topics : Stepping Through Time; Cracking the Capital’s Code; Part of the Street Furniture; and It’s Only Natural. Each section has a walk for you to follow, and there is also an Index at the back if you wish to go straight to a specific place – or person.
The first section guides you through the capital’s 2,000-year history, while the second provides insight into the various symbols you can find in the city. In the third section, Chesher takes an inquisitive look at the UK capital’s street furniture from post boxes to lavatories. Lastly, he considers the open space in town from its secret beach to miniature vineyard.
London: A Guide for Curious Wanderers makes for a fascinating journey through the streets of London taking you through familiar territory but with a fresh approach, introducing you to stink pipes, sphinxes and even the seven noses of Soho. A final word for Katharine Fraser’s excellent illustrations that enliven each page.
An Essex boy, Jack Chesher studied history at Bristol University before moving to London 2020. Childhood visits to London, combined with his duals loves of walking and history inspired Jack to launch Living London History in September 2020. The following year, he started his guided walks.
London : A Guide for Curious Wanderers
By Jack Chesher is illustrated by Katharine Fraser and published by Frances Lincoln £14.99 hardback and eBook.