Some weeks ago Katie Wignall from Look Up London hosted a virtual tour through London for some members of my community. Afterwards she answered some questions for a new episode of Meet the Londoner. Enjoy reading her interview.
Katie Wignall from Look Up London
Katie, please introduce yourself.
I’m Katie, a London Blue Badge Tour Guide and history blogger.
My walking tour company is Look Up London. It started as a blog and on social media but for the past four years I’ve been running historic walking tours focussing on the more unusual history around London.
Where in London do you live?
I’ve lived in London all my life, I grew up near Wimbledon and now I live in the East End, close to Poplar.
Since when are you a Blue Badge Guide?
I qualified in April 2018 after two years of hard studying and passing 12 exams, I was also thrilled to win the ‘best overall presentations prize’ for my year.
Tell us about your company Look Up London
What does Look Up London stand for?
Look Up London is all about looking for the little hidden details that tell you more about London’s history. This started because I noticed how little other Londoners look up to admire what’s above their eyeline so I started sharing pictures and history online. The blog grew from there!
What do you like best about being a tour guide in London?
The best thing about being a guide is that you’re always learning, there’s always a new story or new detail to discover in London. The other great thing is being out and about and meeting lots of people from all over the world.
Do you have a signature tour or a favourite one?
As well as the more ‘touristy’ sites I love showing Londoners the hidden gems in the City of London and Spitalfields, I have 7 unique public tours that I offer through my website; from Bermondsey to Fleet Street so it’s hard to pick a favourite.
How do you come up with new tours?
I get most of my inspiration from walking around London, you just have to look out, be curious and you’ll spot something that sparks an idea. I have so many notes on my phone of half-formed tours I’m planning!
Katie about London
What’s a must-see in London?
For me, the absolute must-see place in London is St Paul’s Cathedral. It might not be the oldest church but it’s beautiful, has a fascinating history and you can climb the dome to get epic 360 views of London.
3 words to describe London
Personally I always think about London as ‘Limitless’ there’s so much to see and do it can be overwhelming, but I think that’s what makes the job such fun! If I had to choose two other words it would be ‘inspiring’ but ‘messy’!
The best museum in London is..?
I used to work at the Victoria and Albert Museum and it’s so full of brilliant (and odd!) objects so Id have to go with that one. It’s one of my favourite places to guide.
The coolest bar is..?
I much prefer a historic-feeling pub to a cool bar! Anywhere in the City is great but I particularly like the Hand and Shears, Old Doctor Butlers Head and the Cockpit.
Favourite part of London?
I never get tired of Spitalfields, the historic 18th century streets are beautiful but you have to pick your time because they can get so touristy!
Where is your favourite spot in London?
I love the (relatively) new rooftop garden in the City; 120 Fen Court it’s a lovely open space and is so quiet!
Where do you go for a nice breakfast?
Anywhere in Clerkenwell. At the weekend it’s way quieter than Borough or Spitalfields which is full of brunch-seekers!
Some fun stuff about Katie
Which is your favourite ice-cream and where do you get it?
Bacio from Gelupo in Soho. Best ice cream in London and that flavour (chocolate and hazelnut is my favourite)
Gin and Tonic or Pimm’s?
Milk in first or last?
Last. But usually in Coffee, I’m not really a tea drinker!
Favourite Tube line?
I live by the DLR which is the King of the transport lines!
If you could travel back in time, which period would you choose and why?
Knowing how grim regular life was for most Londoners I’m quite happy in the present day! However if I was a Queen or super Rich it would be interesting to get a close hand view of the decadent Georgian era!
Look Up London on Social Media
Dear Katie, thanks for your time for this interview and for hosting our virtual tour through London. We enjoyed it so much! I am looking forward to doing another session in the future. Hopefully we can also catch up in London soon!
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