Profile updated 23/11/20
My name is Sean Mitchell and I am a born and bred Londoner with family roots in this great city going back several generations. Starting from an interest in my own family's presence in this city, I have had a lifelong fascination with London's history and never fail to be amazed by the sheer depth and range of human experience that has played itself out on the streets of this city.
That depth and range of experience particularly applies to the history of ideas in London, which is why my guiding email address is firstname.lastname@example.org It was my fascination with that history in relation to its architecture which convinced me to get into guiding in the first place, and I qualified as a London Blue Badge Guide in 2010. Great buildings are an index of the ideas of their times, and on my architectural walks, I reveal how they embody the ideas of their times in a way that makes great buildings like St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and "The Gherkin" even more meaningful.
As time went on, I started to develop guided walks which dealt with the history of ideas directly in relation to London literature and the history of refugees and radicalism. My literature walks reveal how great writers like William Blake, Charles Dickens and even Shakespeare were formed by this city. My refugees and radicalism guided walks tell the story of how Britain's tradition of multi-culturalism started as religious sanctuary in London in Tudor times under figures including Thomas Cromwell (the hero of Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall" novels, the site of whose house is included) but became a tradition of political tolerance in 18th and 19th centuries that meant that figures like Voltaire, Rousseau, Marx and Lenin were all able to express their ideas on the streets of London. Also, I have a specialist interest and knowledge of the history of the Russian radical intelligentsia and have a walk tracing every generation of these lesser-known but fascinating revolutionary emigres on the streets of Bloomsbury from 1850s right through to 1917.
For me London has been host to such a depth and range of ideas from waves of people who have been drawn here over the centuries that it is not so much a city as a whole world. It is that world of ideas that I reveal to groups that I am guiding whether I am talking about architectural London, radical London, literary London or refugee London and I guarantee that whether you are a relative newcomer or a lifelong Londoner like me, my guiding will give you a different perspective on your city.
Finally, over the last 10 years of guiding, I have developed a set of guided walks in a completely unique format. These are interactive tours called LONDON LIARS' WALKS: after I introduce each stop, my walkers will hear 2 stories, one of which is an extraordinary truth about London, and one of which is garnished with lies. Those who correctly identify the true story will get a token towards a London-themed prize, and those who get it wrong will have to complete a mild embarrassing forfeit. These walks are a great opportunity for groups of friends and work colleagues to really enjoy themselves whilst discovering some of the extraordinary, quirky sides of London which will surprise even lifelong Londoners.
|Architecture - my interest is to show the continuity of themes between London's architectural history right up to the period of Modernism and its current profile as a leading centre for contemporary Hi-Tech architecture|
Buildings are an index of the ideas of their times, and it is those ideas that my architecture tours will reveal. I will show how the designs of buildings emerge not just from the aesthetic priorities of their age but the political, social and often religious concerns of different periods of history. I am also fascinated by contemporary architecture and my guided tours of the latest Hi-Tech buildings reveal how, although the priorities may be different to those of previous historic periods, the way to really understand why they are built the way they are is because of the concerns of their times.
|Art/Paintings & Sculpture||
My guiding of painting and sculpture will set them in the context of the artistic movements of their times as well as revealing the intentions of the individual artists.
|Castles & Palaces||
London's castle - The Tower of London is one of my specialities as are its palaces that are open all year round for the public: Kensington Palace and Hampton Court.
|Churches & Cathedrals||
My guiding of churches and cathedrals will show how their designs and decoration are rooted in the religious understandings of their times.
My guided tours of ethnic Britain trace the presence of different communities in the UK to a uniquely long British history of tolerance and immigration which has its roots in the religious conflicts of Tudor times. From those surprising beginnings, I show how religious tolerance evolved into political tolerance which ultimately gave us contemporary London as the most diverse place on the planet.
|Food & Drink||
My food and drink tours show how the extraordinary range of food and drink in London comes from its rich ethnic and cultural diversity as well as its emergence as the first megacity of the world at the beginning of 19th century.
My guiding of London's galleries focuses on how their artworks grew out of the historic artistic ideas of their times.
|History & Prehistory||
My guiding of any particular historical period brings the fruits of years of study of history to bear on explaining the period in question and my guiding of prehistory combines substantial knowledge with an imaginative ability to bring the prehistoric world to life with a vivid verbal style.