Explore the bloodcurdling history of Smithfield as you tour some of London’s oldest pubs.
Things to know
Couples, Culture Vulture, Friends
You and our own professional guide. 100% exclusive
No tickets required for this tour
Type of tour:
Walking tour – no transport costs are included. Your guide will help you get around on the day.
Two pints of beers or two house wines
Meeting points: The Castle Farringdon, 34-35 Cowcross St, Farringdon, London EC1M 6DB
What makes this tour special
Explore the dark and chequered history of Smithfield, home to London’s central meat market.
Learn about the area’s gruesome history and enjoy a pint of local brew at the oldest drinking holes around.
Put yourself in the shoes of Dickens and Sherlock Holmes with a wander around the grounds of the historic St Barts, the oldest hospital in Europe.
Uncover the most unlikely stories of one of London’s most influential areas with your expert guide.
Learn about the role of traditional watering holes in the area’s history and take the chance to cultivate your palate: from stout, to cider, to traditional British ales.
Exploring London’s Bloody Past
Looking to quench your thirst whilst taking in London’s bloody past? In this fantastic pub tour you will have the pleasure of visiting some of the most historic drinking spots in the City of London. Enjoy some excellent locally-brewed craft beer whilst exploring the dark and chequered history of the Smithfield area. The central meat market for London, Smithfields has been in continuous operation for more than 800 years. Undoubtedly the most gruesome location in the capital, this ancient marketplace has long been a site of gory traditions: from the cattle that were slaughtered in its streets to the presence of countless heretic witches, public executions (of the likes of William "Braveheart" Wallace) and the slaying of Wat Tyler during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. Murder and mystery define the district, which is often referenced by London’s literary legends – the nearby St Bartholomew, more commonly known as St. Barts, is where Sherlock Holmes first meets Dr. Watson. Once described by Dickens in Oliver Twist as “the armpit of London, where animal excrement and entrails created a sea of filth”, today Smithfield thankfully operates in beautiful ornate Victorian halls - no entrails in sight!
As you venture through these labyrinthine streets with your expert local guide, you will be going off the beaten track, journeying back in time as you explore some of Smithfield’s’ most interesting pubs and breweries. One establishment you might venture into, The Hand and Shears, dates as far back as the Middle Ages – the Lord Mayor used to open the famed St.Bartholomew's fair from outside it doors. Another, the Viaduct Tavern, lies opposite the notorious old Newgate Prison. Its cellars are rumoured to have once been cells, though you’d never guess as you sit comfortably inside this former ‘Gin Palace’, which boasts a beautiful Victorian interior of ornate wooden screens and engraved glass panels. As you make yourself at home in these traditional watering holes, your guide will regale you with tales of the city, whilst you sample a variety of authentic British ales, stouts and ciders.
QWill there be other people on the tour or is it just us?
AAll of our tours are 100% private and exclusive, which means that it will just be you, your group and your guide on the tour. Your tour will be completely tailored to your needs and we will make sure to find a guide that best suits your group.
QAre entrance tickets and transport included in the cost of the tour?
AIn the ‘Things to Know’ section at the top of this page you will find details of whatever entrance tickets and transport are included in the tour. If you have any questions about this, then you can either use the chat button in the bottom right hand corner, send an email to or call 1-212-710-1322 (US) or +44 20 3009 2392 (UK).
QWhat is your cancellation policy?
AOn tours cancelled more than 48 hours before the scheduled departure time, we are happy to offer our customers a full refund - minus a 5% credit card fee and the cost of any tickets that have been purchased. For tours cancelled less than 48 hours before the scheduled departure time, we are unfortunately unable to offer refunds. If you would like to reschedule a tour, this is usually possible if we are given enough notice, but we cannot guarantee the same guide. Changes made to bookings may be subject to rebooking fees to cover the cost of tickets purchased, transport, guide rescheduling and administration. To cancel or change your booking, please contact us at or call 1-212-710-1322 (US) or +44 20 3009 2392 (UK).
QWho do I contact if I have any questions about this tour or if I want to make changes to my tour?
AAt Touriocity, we provide a free concierge service to help you plan your time abroad and they will be able to answer any questions you may have about this tour or any other tours. We are normally able to customise or personalise tours to suit your needs. Please do get in touch by either using the chat button in the bottom right hand corner, sending an email to or calling 1-212-710-1322 (US) or +44 20 3009 2392 (UK).
QAm I able to book more than one tour?
AAbsolutely, you can book as many tours as you like! You can add them to your cart by clicking the ‘Book Now’ button or you can get in touch and we can put together an itinerary for you. To get in touch, you can either use the chat button in the bottom right hand corner, send an email to or call 1-212-710-1322 (US) or +44 20 3009 2392 (UK).