St Giles was once one of the most squalid, insanitary and criminal areas in the country; it was said to contain, “the lowest conditions under which human life is possible.”
It grew from the early 1600s as a colony of new arrivals, those expelled from the City, the sick and the poor. And it became an urban forest of overcrowded courts, alleys, open sewers and gin shops. Fielding, Hogarth and Dickens chronicled its conditions and campaigned for its improvement.
Richard’s walking tour explores this area caught between Bloomsbury and Covent Garden, finding some fantastic historic social buildings, fine churches, atmospheric old streets and posh shopping thoroughfares which reveal a great legacy of an appalling slum.