Penny Green’s London – locations from the books

Some of the locations which feature in the Penny Green Victorian Mystery Series.

Central London

Reading Room, The British Museum, Bloomsbury
Penny, like many journalists at the time, carries out her research in the reading room. It’s located in the British Museum which was founded in the eighteenth century, the current building was constructed in 1854. The iconic circular reading room was part of the British Library within the museum and was in use for 140 years: from 1857 until 1997. During that time it was also used a filming location and has been referenced in many works of fiction.
When the British Library moved to a new location in 1997, the reading room was restored and subsequently used for exhibition space but it has been closed since 2014. It’s been recently announced that it will reopen and display some of the museum’s permanent collections, but it’s not clear when that will be.
Features in: the whole Penny Green series.
Can you visit it? You can admire it from the outside when you visit the British Museum.

The Museum Tavern, Bloomsbury
Opposite The British Museum is the Museum Tavern where Penny and James enjoy a drink together from time to time. It’s a well-preserved Victorian pub and much of the current pub (including its name) dates back to 1855. A pub was first built on this site in the eighteenth century Celebrity drinkers here are said to have included Arthur Conan Doyle and Karl Marx.
Features in: the whole Penny Green series.
Can you visit it? Yes, go and have a drink there.

Russell Square, Bloomsbury
This square was laid out in 1804 and takes its name from the surname of the Earls and Dukes of Bedford who developed the area. Many of the original inhabitants were wealthy men in the legal profession.
These days Russell Square is a popular green space in central London with a cafe, fountain and one of London’s green cabman shelters which were built across the city between 1875 and 1914.
Features in: The Inventor.
Can you visit it? Yes.

Midland Grand Hotel, King’s Cross
This breathtakingly beautiful gothic building opened as the luxury Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras station in the 1870s. However, when the twentieth century arrived it began to fall out of favour with guests as the rooms had no bathrooms. The hotel fell derelict in the 1980s and sat empty for many years until a redevelopment and a reopening in 2011. It’s now the upmarket St Pancras Renaissance London Hotel.
Features in: Limelight.
Can you visit it? Yes.

Euston Station
This once impressive railway station opened in 1837. It was notable for its beautiful, classically styled Great Hall in which a statue of George Stephenson – who the Victorians called ‘Father of Railways’ – once stood. At the entrance to the station stood Euston Arch which was a large, impressive structure built of sandstone.
The station was demolished and redeveloped in the 1960s to the upset of many. The broken up pieces of Euston Arch were used to line the bottom of a canal in East London. A number of the pieces were raised from the canal in 2009 and plans are being discussed to have the arch rebuilt as part of an upgrade of Euston station in 2026.
Features in: The Inventor, The Bermondsey Poisoner.
Can you visit it? The original buildings have all gone, but the statue of George Stephenson and the gates from Euston Arch are on display at the National Railway Museum in York in the north of England.

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Covent Garden
The Theatre Royal goes back a long way. The first theatre was built on this site in the 1660s, the current building is the fourth version and opened over 200 years ago in 1812. The ghosts of Charles Macklin and Joey Grimaldi – which worry Penny during her visits – are said to haunt the theatre. The Victorians loved their ghost stories as you know!
Features in: Limelight.
Can you visit it? Yes.

Fleet Street
Publishing began in Fleet Street in the 1500s and by the twentieth century the street was the hub of the British press. By the 1980s the newspaper industry was outgrowing the old, cramped offices on Fleet Street and most publications began leaving for larger, more modern premises. The last journalists left in 2016 when the Sunday Post closed its office.
Fleet Street’s church, St Brides, retains its strong association with journalism. The journalists may have gone but the pubs and bars they once frequented are still popular with workers and tourists.
Features in: the whole Penny Green series.
Can you visit it? Yes.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Fleet Street
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub was a favourite with Fleet Street journalists for many years. The pub is still popular and retains its seventeenth century charm and cellars which date from the thirteenth century. The gloomy, warren-like pub has counted literary figures such as Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle and Alfred Tennyson among its regulars. Many pubs in London like to claim Dickens was a regular – but in the case of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese I’m inclined to believe it.
Features in: The Rookery.
Can you visit it? Yes, go and have a drink there.

St Bartholomew’s Hospital, West Smithfield
This hospital remains on the site it was founded on in the twelfth century and some of the current buildings date back to the eighteenth century. Bart’s has a long-held reputation for teaching and research, buildings for the medical school were constructed in the nineteenth century and among these was the pathology museum.
These days the pathology museum at Bart’s is now professionally curated and open to the public.
Features in: The Inventor.
Can you visit it? Yes, check the museum opening times before you turn up.

St Giles
St Giles Rookery occupied an area of London which is now part of modern day Holborn, Covent Garden and the theatre district in London’s West End. It was already becoming an overcrowded poverty stricken area in the seventeenth century and by the first half of the nineteenth century it was one of the worst slums in Britain. William Hogarth immortalised the area’s lawlessness and depravity in a series of etchings, one of the best known being Gin Lane.
By the late nineteenth century Victorian social reform and philanthropy had gained strong momentum and attempts were made to clear and rebuild London’s slums. Areas such as St Giles attracted many from the middle-classes who either wished to help the inhabitants or tour the poverty stricken streets out of curiosity.
Evangelical missionaries began establishing themselves in slum districts from the 1830s onwards and by the end of the nineteenth century there were hundreds of missionaries helping slum dwellers with practical needs as well as spiritual.
The church of St Giles-in-the-Fields was rebuilt in the eighteenth century and still stands today. Seven Dials has retained its layout and character despite some redevelopment, and Neal Street is a popular shopping street in the Covent Garden area. Neal’s Yard, famous for the organic beauty company which uses its name, provides a good idea of how the narrow crooked streets would have once looked. Although these days the buildings are brightly coloured and house trendy eateries and boutiques.
Features in: The Rookery
Can you visit it? Some of the streets remain but the area has changed significantly.

Hammam Turkish Baths, Jermyn Street
A visit to the baths was not only a popular pastime for Victorians but a necessity for a time when only the extremely wealthy had plumbing in their homes. Turkish baths were inspired by those found in Turkey, Greece and Spain and the London versions boasted magnificent themed interiors.
The Hammam Turkish Baths opened in 1862 and were said, for a time, to be the finest in Europe. The popularity of these facilities declined in the twentieth century as bathrooms were installed in homes and the Hammam was completely destroyed by a bomb landing on Jermyn Street during the Second World War.
Features in: The Bermondsey Poisoner.
Can you visit it? No.

Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly
This upmarket street opened in 1819 and was a precursor to modern day shopping malls. It was given its own private police force which still looks after the arcade today: the Burlington Beadles. Singing and whistling is banned in the arcade: rules which were established when pickpockets frequented the place and brothels were to be found in its upper chambers.
Apparently in the mid-nineteenth century Madam Parsons ran a bonnet shop in the arcade which was a front for a brothel in nearby Regent Street. Madam Parsons facilitated liaisons between gentlemen and the ladies and it was only after her death that Madam Parsons was discovered to have been a man.
Features in: The Inventor.
Can you visit it? Yes.

St James’s Square
This square has been an exclusive location in London for most of its history. Laid out in the seventeenth century, the square has been home to three prime ministers, Nancy Astor, Ada Lovelace (pioneering mathematician and Lord Byron’s daughter) and General Eisenhower’s UK HQ in the Second World War.
These days the formerly fashionable townhouses are occupied by corporations, including BP and Rolex, a few private members clubs and the London Library. You can rent an apartment in St James’s Square if you can afford £5,000+ a week in rent!
Features in: Curse of the Poppy.
Can you visit it? Yes.

East India Club, St James’s Square
This gentleman’s club was founded in 1849 principally for men who were connected with the East India Company. It still occupies the same building in St James’s Square today, having merged with other clubs over the years. Membership is by nomination and election and open to men only.
Features in: The Inventor
Can you visit it? You can view it from the street. Members only if you want to go inside.

Scotland Yard, Whitehall
The original headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police occupied a house in Whitehall after the founding of the force in 1829. The house backed onto a street called Great Scotland Yard which the headquarters took its name from.
As the force grew, it occupied neighbouring buildings and then moved to a new building close by in 1890. Scotland Yard moved to a building in Victoria in the 1960s and then relocated to Westminster – not too far from its original location – in 2016.
Features in: the whole Penny Green series.
Can you visit it? No, not the original Scotland Yard buildings.

India Office, Whitehall
The India Office was located in what are now the Foreign Office buildings in Whitehall. Noted for their architecture and spectacular interior, these government buildings were built in the 1860s and still house the Foreign Office today.
Features in: Curse of the Poppy.
Can you visit it? You can view it from the street and can go inside once a year in September when the Foreign Office opens its doors for Open House Weekend.

Hyde Park
King Henry VIII established this as a hunting park for himself in the sixteenth century, it was later opened to the public in 1637. The Serpentine lake was created by damming a river in the eighteenth century and the Great Exhibition was famously hosted here in the Crystal Palace in 1851. Hyde Park has been a popular place for walking, boating and riding for centuries and these days hosts big summer concerts too.
Features in: throughout the series.
Can you visit it? Yes.

Hyde Park Gate
These are two streets situated close to the Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park. The area has long been associated with the wealthy and that’s still the case today. The young Virginia Woolf lived at number twenty-two Hyde Park Gate and Winston Churchill spent some of his later years at number twenty-eight, he passed away there at the age of ninety.
Features in: The Maid’s Secret.
Can you visit it? Yes.

Kensington Court, Kensington
This 1880s development was the first domestic building in Britain to be supplied with electricity. The generator room – the Electric Lighting Station – still stands and is listed for its importance. It’s now used for office space.
Features in: The Inventor.
Can you visit it? You can view it from the street.

Natural History Museum, South Kensington
The museum’s early collections were once part of the British Museum. In the 1870s work began on this magnificent building in South Kensington to house the British Museum’s natural history collections. The Natural History Museum finally became independent from the British Museum in the 1960s and was the fourth most visited attraction in London in 2017.
Features in: Limelight.
Can you visit it? Yes.

City of London

City of London police headquarters, Old Jewry
This police station served as the headquarters of the City of London Police from 1863 until 2001. The building is now used for office space but it’s popular with Jack the Ripper tours because officers in this building investigated the murder of Jack the Ripper’s fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes, in 1888.
Features in: The Inventor, Curse of the Poppy.
Can you visit it? You can view it from the street.

Milton Street
Penny Green lives in Milton Street in Cripplegate which was one of the areas worst hit by bombing during the Blitz in the Second World War and only a few original streets remain.
Milton Street was known as Grub Street in the eighteenth century and famous as a home to impoverished writers at the time. The street had a long association with writers and was home to Anthony Trollope among many others.
A small stretch of Milton Street remains but the 1960s Barbican development has been built over the bombed remains.
Features in: throughout the series
Can you visit it these days? Only the top end of the street, most of it has been demolished.

Change Alley
Change Alley, sometimes known as Exchange Alley, is a narrow street in the heart of the City of London. In the seventeenth century it was home to Jonathan’s Coffee House where the prices of stocks and commodities were first published – a forerunner of the stock exchange.
Features in: Curse of the Poppy.
Can you visit it? Yes.

Tower Subway
This subway was the main route for crossing the Thames by the Tower of London before Tower Bridge opened in 1894. The subway is a narrow iron tube which opened in 1870 and originally had a small rail carriage for people to travel on.
This early subway train failed to make money so the tunnel became a foot tunnel and was apparently a damp, echoey claustrophobic walk with a halfpenny toll.
It was used little once Tower Bridge opened and it closed in 1898 – but it’s still there! It’s now used for water mains.
Features in: The Bermondsey Poisoner.
Can you visit it? Close to the Tower of London, you can see a little round, brick building which once served as the entrance.

South London

Astley’s Amphitheatre, Lambeth
Astley’s Amphitheatre opened in the 1770s and was built by Philip Astley who is considered to be the father of the modern circus. The amphitheatre has frequently featured fiction and was rebuilt a number of times before finally being demolished in the 1890s. It was located close to the southern end of Westminster Bridge, part of today’s St Thomas’s Hospital now stands over it.
Features in: Limelight.
Can you visit it? No, demolished.

London Necropolis Railway, Cemetery Station, Waterloo
The London Necropolis Railway ran funeral trains from Cemetery Station, just behind Waterloo Station, down to Brookwood Cemetery thirty miles away in Surrey. The cemetery was built by the London Necropolis Company in the 1850s when the capital was running out of space to bury its dead. At the time of its opening, Brookwood was the largest cemetery in the world.
The mourners travelled in the passenger carriages and the coffins were carried in a separate windowless carriage. Cemetery Station was moved to a new building when Waterloo Station was expanded in 1902, the railway ceased operation after its London station was bombed in the Second World War.
Features in: The Rookery.
Can you visit it? No, the original station has been demolished. You can visit Brookwood Cemetery and a commemorative piece of railway track remains there.

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Lambeth
This pub was built in the 1860s and is now a famous gay venue. Many of the buildings which neighboured the pub have since gone but the Tavern is set to remain there for a long time yet having been made a Grade II listed building in 2015 in recognition of its importance to the LGBT community and history.
Features in: The Maid’s Secret, The Bermondsey Poisoner
Can you visit it? Yes, go and have a drink there.

St Thomas’s Hospital, Lambeth
Founded in 1215, the hospital moved to its riverside site opposite the Houses of Parliament in 1871. The buildings have been redeveloped significantly since then. After her experiences in the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale established her Nightingale School of Training for nurses at the hospital in the 1860s.
Features in: Limelight.
Can you visit it? A few nineteenth century buildings remain and can be viewed from the street. The Florence Nightingale Museum is open to the public.

Royal Doulton Pottery, Lambeth
This large pottery was established on London’s south bank in the early nineteenth century and became a major employer in the area. Some of the buildings, including the showroom, had a beautiful, ornamental style designed to reflect the products the factory made.
The factory was targeted by bombs in the Second World War and was demolished in the 1950s. A small part of the pottery complex still stands, including Southbank House – its exterior gives you an idea of how beautiful some of these buildings were.
Features in: The Bermondsey Poisoner.
Can you visit it? You can view the remaining buildings from the street.

Gonsalva Road, Battersea
This was a row of terraced homes which housed workers for south London’s industry and railways. My interest in the street arose from the discovery that my great grandmother and her family lived there for many years. The area suffered bomb damage during the Second World War and was cleared for redevelopment in the 1950s and 60s. It’s now home to the Westbury Estate and would be unrecognisable to my ancestors.
Features in: The Maid’s Secret.
Can you visit it? No.

St Mary Magdalen Church, Bermondsey
This ancient church has a striking appearance, both inside and out. A church has been on this site since the thirteenth century and the current building dates from the 1600s.
Features in: The Bermondsey Poisoner.
Can you visit it? Yes.

The Crystal Palace, Sydenham
This was built for Britain’s Great Exhibition in 1851, the first international exhibition of manufactured products. The enormous glasshouse was constructed in Hyde Park and 14,000 exhibitors were contained within its 990,000 square feet of space. The building was three times the size of St Paul’s Cathedral.
After the Great Exhibition, the Crystal Palace was painstakingly dismantled and reassembled eight miles away at a park in Sydenham, south London. It reopened again in 1854 and was used for various events, festivals and exhibitions over the years. The park was attractively landscaped and its lake was home to the famous concrete Crystal Palace dinosaurs.
Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire in 1936, an event witnessed by my Grandfather from five miles away on Clapham Common. Even at that distance he said the light from the fire was bright enough to read a newspaper by.
Some of the landscaped grounds of Crystal Palace remain: including the grassed-over Italian-style terraces, steps and a few statues. These days the park is famously home to the Crystal Palace football team’s ground and the area itself is now called Crystal Palace. The 160 year old concrete dinosaurs are still there and the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs charity lovingly keeps an eye on them. Talk rumbles on of plans to rebuild the Crystal Palace but nothing has been confirmed.
Features in: The Inventor.
Can you visit it? You can visit the park, nothing of the palace remains. The dinosaurs are still there!

Chislehurst Caves, Chislehurst
The caves are actually mines which were first excavated in the thirteenth century to mine chalk and flint. Mining finally ended in the 1830s and left a network of tunnels beneath suburban south-east London covering 22 miles.
The caves were used to store ammunition during the First World War and became an underground city during the Second World War when thousands of families slept there to escape the bombs. During this time the caves accommodated 15,000 people and had a cinema, three canteens, a barber, a hospital and a chapel.
Other unlikely uses over the years included mushroom cultivation in the 1930s and an underground music venue in the 1960s hosting famous artists such as The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and Pink Floyd.
Features in: The Bermondsey Poisoner.
Can you visit it? Yes, the caves are now open as a tourist attraction.

East London

Commercial Street police station
The police station on Commercial Street was once part of Whitechapel H Division. It was this division which investigated four of the five canonical Jack the Ripper murders in 1888 (the other one being in the City of London). The investigating officers were based at Commercial Street police station. The building still stands today and had an extra storey added to it in the early 1900s. A police station no more, it’s now residential and is called Burhan Uddin House.
Features in: Curse of the Poppy.
Can you visit it? You can view it from the street.

North London

Highgate Cemetery, Highgate
This cemetery was laid out in the 1830s at a time when London was running low on space to bury its dead. It’s famous for its funerary architecture and the tombs of well-known people such as Karl Marx, George Eliot and Douglas Adams. Neglected after the Second World War, much of the cemetery is now overgrown and it’s a fascinating, atmospheric place with a host of ghost stories attached to it. Such is the interest in the cemetery that guided tours are run each day.
Features in: Limelight.
Can you visit it? Yes, but you’ll need to book a guided tour to see the most interesting bits.

Parliament Hill, Hampstead
Part of Hampstead Heath, this hill has long been famous for its views over London.
Features in: Limelight, The Bermondsey Poisoner.
Can you visit it? Yes.

Map

To view these locations, and the fictional locations too, you can view them on an interactive Google map of Penny Green’s London here: hyperurl.co/9llecv

The Penny Green Victorian Mystery Series

Limelight
1883. How did an actress die twice? Actress Lizzie Dixie drowned in the River Thames, so how was she murdered five years later in Highgate Cemetery?
Intrepid Fleet Street reporter Penny Green was a friend of Lizzie’s and Scotland Yard needs her help. Does Penny unwittingly hold clues to Lizzie’s mysterious death? Penny must work with Inspector James Blakely to investigate the worlds of theatre, showmen and politicians in search of the truth.
But who is following her? And who is sending her threatening letters?
Penny is about to discover that Lizzie’s life was more complicated, and dangerous, than she could ever have imagined.

The Rookery
1884. There’s a killer in the slums. When a thief robs Fleet Street reporter Penny Green, she finds herself caught up in a horrifying murder.
Someone is terrorizing the residents of St Giles Rookery and Scotland Yard sends Inspector James Blakely to investigate. When the serial killer claims a victim outside the slums, Victorian London is sent into panic.
Can Penny’s friendship with the people of St Giles uncover the culprit? She and James must overcome their complicated relationship to work together, but each new murder threatens to derail their work for good.

The Maid’s Secret
1884. The truth is rarely simple. Victorian industrialist Alexander Glenville is a man with many secrets. Fleet Street reporter Penny Green is tasked with working undercover as a maid in his home, but tragedy strikes when Glenville’s daughter is poisoned.
Penny’s insider knowledge is crucial for Scotland Yard’s murder investigation, but someone in the Glenville household already suspects that she’s more than just a servant. Can Penny and Inspector James Blakely solve the mystery before Penny’s cover is blown?

The Inventor
1884. Electricity pioneer Simon Borthwick lights up Victorian London with a stunning illuminations display – then shoots himself in a hansom cab.
Plucky Fleet Street reporter Penny Green witnesses the inventor’s death and suspects the clue to his suicide lies in a mysterious letter he left behind. But can she persuade Inspector James Blakely of Scotland Yard that a crime has been committed?
Borthwick isn’t the only person who died that day and Penny soon encounters a shadowy world which the police can’t get close to. When the intimidation begins, Penny starts to fear for her own safety. James does what he can to protect her, but is it enough?

Curse of the Poppy
1884. A woman dies in a burglary in Fitzrovia. A man is murdered in an opium den in Limehouse. Gutsy Fleet Street reporter Penny Green suspects the two deaths are connected, but how can she prove it?
The answer may lie in Whitehall where the India Office reaps the benefits of Britain’s opium trade. But when Inspector James Blakely of Scotland Yard begins investigating, an unforeseen danger looms.
Soon Penny is forced to act alone and is put to the ultimate test when her quest becomes personal.

The Bermondsey Poisoner
1884. A culprit is on the run after a fatal poisoning in Bermondsey. It seems like a simple case for Penny Green to report on, until a series of macabre photographs is discovered.
As the poisonings continue, Scotland Yard is convinced they have their suspect. It’s not long before they’re outwitted and no one is safe. Penny and Inspector James Blakely must avoid the red herrings and track down the manipulative poisoner.
But could there be more than one?