Simon Jones has lived and worked in London for over thirty years, since moving here from the North West. He started his exploration of the metropolis shortly after arriving, using guide books.
It wasn’t enough. Odd, eye-catching doorways and alleys weren’t in the books; churches were described as “by the wardrobe” or “without” somewhere; the urban landscape kept changing, month after month. Paternoster Square has been rebuilt, the Lloyds building finished, the Millennium Bridge constructed (twice). The books weren’t cutting it.
Time to do independent investigation and research. After this came drawing up walks and taking friends on them – it went well, so he began leading tours at Highgate Cemetery and Somerset House (which he still does from time to time – wonderful, beautiful places both).
Simon qualified in 2015 as a Clerkenwell and Islington Guide, drawn to this area as it is central but not as well explored as its near neighbours the City and Westminster. It can match them with its multi-layered past and its secrets and subtleties are a gift that keeps on giving.
Simon is fascinated by the attitudes and ideas behind all aspects of the evolution of London and his walks are exercises in pulling these factors together, putting the group in the place or moment (be that Clerkenwell in 1140, Tower Hill in 1666 or King’s Cross in the 1840s). His main period of interest is the Nineteenth Century and what the Victorians and their predecessors did (for good or ill) and how they saw the world. One abiding lesson history teaches is how little human nature changes – look at any part of London and you will see how collisions and cooperation between greed and kindness, desperation and exuberance have all gone into the pot to create the great city we know today.
Simon’s tours include
- Samuel Pepys in the City, and Westminster (two tours);
- Battle Bridge, Angel Basin – then THE WORLD! – linking the North and Midlands to London’s Docks – via Kings’ Cross and Islington;
- “There goes the neighbourhood” – Highbury’s future as a haven for the wealthy was stymied by the relocation of London’s less attractive services just across the road.
His website is Walking On Gold, http://www.walkingongold.co.uk/