Secret London is a pot-pourri of chapters which has proved extremely popular with armchair readers and urban explorers alike. The first half of the book covers such themes as underground London and who owns London. Part two explores hidden Westminster, St James’s and the City in detail and takes the reader to offbeat places to visit such as the Royal Institution and the Charterhouse. The book contains eight walks (totalling 20 miles), three of them along the winding courses of long-buried rivers, and explores 30 unusual places to visit not included in more conventional guidebooks. As usual, each walk has its own detailed map plus full information on transport, refreshments and opening times, and there are over a dozen full-page colour photos.

See the contents

Chapter 1: Hidden Landscape

  • The Campden spur walk
  • The Islington spur walk
  • The Westbourne river walk
  • The Tyburn river walk
  • The Fleet river walk

Chapter 2: The Subterranean City

  • Underground Citadels
  • Underground Railways
  • Tunnels under the Thames
  • Utility Subways
  • One-Offs and Far-Outs

Chapter 3: Private Landowners

  • The City Corporation
  • The Livery Companies
  • Church Estates
  • The Crown Estate
  • Non-Royal Estates
  • Historic Estates in Kensington and Chelsea

Chapter 4: Taken for Granted

  • The Lights of Piccadilly Circus
  • The Statue of Eros
  • Drinking Fountains
  • Cabbies' Shelters
  • The Coade Stone Lion
  • The BT Tower
  • Marble Arch
  • Cleopatra' s Needle
  • The Oxo Tower
  • The London Underground Map
  • Blue Plaques
  • Dick Whittington

Chapter 5: Westminster

  • The Palace of Westminster
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Westminster School

Chapter 6: Whitehall

  • Foreign Office
  • Downing Street
  • Cabinet Office
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Scottish Office
  • The Admiralty
  • The Secret Services
  • Government Art Collection

Chapter 7: St James' s

  • The Secret World of the Clubs of
    St James' s
  • Exploring the Hidden Courts and Passages of St James' s walk

Chapter 8. The City

  • City Markets
  • The Livery
  • The City – East of St Paul' s walk
  • The City – West of St Paul' s walk

Chapter 9: Special Collection

  • Kensington Roof Gardens
  • Tyburn Convent
  • House of St Barnabas-in-Soho
  • Coutts & Co and the Private Banks
  • Charterhouse
  • The Royal Institution of Great
  • Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Read the introduction

Any city of eight million people is bound to be a very public place. But London also has its private side, a part that is deliberately kept covered up against prying eyes, or that is simply invisible because it is behind the scenes in some way. It's this private, this secret, side of London that is explored in this book.

In a place as big, as old and as multifaceted as London there are naturally many things that can be described as secret in one way or another. On the one hand there are things that are purposefully concealed, such as the locations of defence installations or the identities of publicity-shy aristocratic landowners. On the other hand there are things that are secret simply because the vast majority of people do not know about them. Here one might mention the natural landscape buried beneath London's streets and the true stories behind Dick Whittington and Marble Arch.

In uncovering these and other facets of secret London, my aim has been to penetrate as far as possible to the very heart of the city. One way I have tried to do this is by creating 20 miles of walks, revealing, among other things, the winding courses of three long-buried rivers. My other method has been to seek out new and unusual places to visit. Altogether, the book contains details of about 30 such places, including a roof garden in Kensington and a bell foundry in the East End.

In security-conscious Whitehall and Westminster I inevitably had less luck in pushing back the frontiers of public accessibility. However, I have at least been able to include in the book first-hand descriptions of some of the more historic government offices. I describe what goes on backstage in the Houses of Parliament and reveal how many people live there.

The one part of secret London I have not been able to explore is the extensive network of tunnels, sewers and abandoned tube stations that honeycombs the cold clay beneath the city's streets. However, by combining other researchers' findings with my own observations, I have been able to draw what I hope is a fairly complete outline of the subterranean city.

Any further light that readers can shed on this shadowy area and on any of the other aspects of secret London investigated in this book would be very welcome.

'I heartily recommend reading Andrew Duncan's Secret London'

Thomas from Oslo

'Secret London... what a great pleasure'

Mary from London

'What fun we have had [with Secret London]... thanks for your imagination and enthusiasm.'

Peter B