Guide Spotlight: Linda – London

This blog series features Walks’ guides from around the globe. It also highlights some of the incredible people who walk with us from Rome and New York. We hope that this blog series, along with our tours from home, will bring you some travel inspiration. This is a chance to hear from Walks guests from around the globe!

Linda Hamer, our London Blue Badge Guide, joins us today to share her top London spots and their interesting histories. She also shares some of the places she recommends that we visit around the globe.

Linda: Do you have a favorite place in London?

It is the Tower of London, an ancient castle that consists of 21 towers dating back to 1066’s Battle of Hastings. This historic date is one of our most significant in history. The Crown Jewels, ravens, and the famous Yeoman Warders (the Beefeaters) are all here. It was a fortress, prison and the location where three queens of England were executed. Two of them were married to the same man.

Want to know more about Tower of London? Take a look at our online tour, which delve deep into the Tower of London’s fascinating past!

Do you have a favorite piece of art?

It’s a tough one. But, if I had one to choose from, it would be “The Fighting Temeraire” by Turner at the National Gallery. Like all great paintings, you can see more if you look more. It shows the final moments of the Temeraire. This ship was one of the most important at the Battle of Trafalgar 1805. She saved the Victory twice. This is her as she was being towed down the Thames to Rotherhithe so that it could be scrapped.

Which is your favorite story to tell during a tour?

This is about St Paul’s Cathedral which Sir Christopher Wren built after the Great Fire of London (1666). Wren was given the task of rebuilding the Cathedral and fifty other London churches. He submitted three designs. The first and second were rejected by Royal Warrant. However, Wren’s third design was approved. Wren was innovative and cunning in its execution. Although the approved design featured a small dome with a steeple at its top, the warrant allowed variations that were ‘ornamental rather then essential’. Wren took advantage of the loophole and gradually added some of his ideas to his second rejected design, his Great Model. This was his personal favorite. The proposed steeple was dropped and a large dome was added. Many people had forgotten how it looked by the time it was finished 35 years later.

Outside the West Front of St. Paul’s Cathedral

Which is your favorite neighborhood in London?

It would be Cheam, a village Sutton. This is also where I live. Many people are familiar with Cheam but not many know the details.

Nearby Nonsuch Park was once home to a majestic palace that King Henry VIII built as a hunting lodge to celebrate Edward’s birth in the thirty-fifth year of his reign. The palace was built in 1538. King Henry didn’t get to see it until 1547. It was, at that time, a palace unlike any other, hence its name “none such”.

Today, there is nothing left of Nonsuch Palace. It was eventually given to King Charles II who sold it and gave it to Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland.

Today, all that is visible is a retaining Wall, built by Victorians in 19 century. It lines the banqueting house and was used to provide a grandstand for guests to enjoy the sport and light refreshments.

All that remains of Nonsuch Palace today

What is the biggest challenge you face as a tour guide?

It’s time to switch off! There are so many places I want to explore for new walks, and I am constantly learning more. While I haven’t been able visit certain places due to lockdown, the internet has allowed me to find them. It’s great to have so many things to do and so much time, but other mundane tasks are not getting done.

How do YOU see the travel industry changing during and after these times?

In the short-term, I believe people will be less reluctant to travel abroad in the next year, and will instead choose to travel in their home countries. We are blessed to have amazing places to visit in Britain.

What is your favorite place to visit outside of your hometown?

The Maasai Mara. The Maasai Mara was a place I visited in Kenya several years ago.

Where would your next dream vacation be?

I hope to visit Cambodia in the early part of next year to see Angkor Wat, and the Mekong river. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Which city or country in the world do think is most underrated?

Sri Lanka. Beautiful beaches, birds, and tea plantations in Sri Lanka.

A tea plantation in Sri Lanka

Where and what city did you eat the best food?

It’s more like an island than a city. I don’t think it would be hard to pick between them all. A beautiful beach restaurant was discovered by me when I visited the island of Koh Samui 15 years ago. Although it was simple with a small archway, tables were placed on the sand by locals. I will forever remember the fresh seafood and the tiny crabs that scurried up the beach, only to be carried back to the sea by the gentle waves. It was paradise, and it will be a memory I will never forget.

Fisherman’s Village, Koh Samui. Image Credit:

Related Articles