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a tour of london’s little venice

September 1

I have been to London many times and each visit only helps to grow my love for this city. There is always so much to see and do, far beyond the typical tourist attractions, monuments, and historic buildings. When I travel I like to take organized walking tours which can often introduce me to an area of a particular city that I might not have discovered as readily on my own. On my last visit to London I did just that and explored Little Venice, a quiet, enchanting area surprisingly found just north of bustling Paddington Station.

And indeed before I found this tour offered by London Walks, I had no idea that this canal area of the city existed. I’ve stayed in the Paddington Station area a number of times and never ventured north where a large canal that used to connect cargo boats with the rail system can be found (lined with original warehouses and modern offices).

The neighbourhood of Little Venice  was built between 1810 and 1870 and was the popular haunt of many artists, writers and scientists. As the London Walk’s web site describes, Little Venice is ‘a unique combination of white stucco, greenery, and water, it boasts the finest early Victorian domestic architecture in London; a Who’s Who of famous residents (Robert Browning, Edward Fox, Joan Collins, Annie Lennox, and Sigmund Freud to name but a few); and a jewel of a “village” street. And that’s not to mention its canals. One of them – Regent’s Canal – is known as the “loveliest inland waterway in England”. Part of the walk is along the canal towpath – which to this day is studded with fragments of evidence that bring the Age of Canals to life.’

During the tour the group was led to The Prince Arthur Pub, rated by The  Times as one of the top 10 heritage pubs in London. Built in 1863, the interior is divided into five separate atmospheric “snugs” by original listed wooden panels. Different class levels of patrons would be segregated into these snugs, with servers having access to each section through small doors in the panels and via the central bar. I made sure to return to this pub at the end of the tour for a fine English ale.

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