Our journey picks up at the large Oxfam bookshop on Bloomsbury Street. Here you’ll find literally stacks and shelves of books, and it’s definitely somewhere worth visiting if you’re looking for something particular. It’s quite appropriate to the literary air of Bloomsbury: if you’re in the mood for bookshops there’s plenty here for every fancy. My personal recommendations are the tiny Griffiths opposite Gt Ormond St Hospital; the London Review Bookshop on Bury Place; and the Wellcome Collection bookshop inside the museum, on Euston Road – the museum’s also completely worth it, and free. I’ve also heard much recommendation of Judd Books and Persephone, and talking of free, to go with the academic air of the vicinity, why not pop into the British Museum (large scale) or the Petrie (very much small scale).
Or better still, just go for a mooch. That’s my favourite thing to do in this learned district, just to wander around the leafy squares, the curiously named streets (Lambs Conduit Street; Malet Street; Judd Street; they roll off the tongue in Betjemanian fashion), the bookshops scattered hither and yon, coffee shops and universities, churches and trees. It’s very lovely, at least until you reach the less pleasant Euston Road. Turn back! Perhaps if you’ve wandered up through the Western side, come back down through the Eastern, perhaps via Mecklenburgh Square, and make your way towards the rarified Grays Inn, one of the four Inns of Court. From there, you head towards another, Lincoln’s Inn, stopping at its eponymous neighbouring square, and wandering around the splendid halls and chapels of the Inn.
Cut through to Carey Street, where you might want to stop for a bite or a pint in the Seven Stars, curated by the inimitable Roxy Beaujolais and be-ruffed cat Tom Paine, and where the rules include ‘no hassling the wenches’ and ‘no sandwiches‘.
That brings you back down to Fleet Street, and though it’s not technically WC country any longer, it’s well worth a quick gander at Inner and Middle Temple, the remaining Inns of Court, on your way down to the Thames.
So: not much in the way of charity shops sadly, but plenty more besides, of a free nature.
Find: WC London @ Google Maps
Transport: the area is amply served by the Piccadilly Line, Central Line or Circle/District lines.
Consume with: any number of coffee shops around – the best is Monmouth Coffee House (Monmouth St)
Visit: for free things to do: British Museum, or listen in to a trial at the Royal Courts of Justice
Overall Rating: two used Virginia Woolfs