A magical evening of witchcraft, history and story-telling as Paul PW Photography joins one of London's most innovative and entertaining walking tours.
Event photography, winter and pandemics rarely mix. I'd been talking to Maria Beadell for a few months, trying to arrange a time to join one of her walking tours but Covid, weather, odd socks and Acts of God kept on getting in the way. Finally, on a mild Friday in February, the stars aligned and we travelled to Farringdon for one of the most entertaining evenings I've had for months.
Maria runs Herstorical Tours, a series of guided walking tours which focus on women's stories in London's history and, in particular, stories within 'the dark and curious underbelly of London's past.' Maria sets out to shine a light on the lives of women whose voices were often silenced, or were deemed unacceptable by the male-dominated society of the time. Given the way such stories often ended, this could have proved a serious way to spend a Friday night, but in Maria's charming hands we were treated to a one-woman show which brought characters to life in a funny, entertaining and touching way.
We met Maria just outside Farringdon station, having almost ended up in a basement with a completely different tour. I mean, if a stranger comes up to you and asks if you're on a 'spooky tour', you say yes, right? I thought it was a little odd when said stranger said "I knew we were getting new socials, but didn't expect a professional to turn up."
I get that a lot.
Anyway, we found Maria in the end. Herstorical Tours' first venture, Hex and the City, promised an immersive theatre walking tour which would take us on a journey through London's dark history of witchcraft. I've never been on an 'immersive theatre walking tour' before. What would it mean? How would we 'meet some of the forgotten women who have been persecuted as witches throughout the ages in our city?'
The answer was simple. This was no ordinary walking tour. Maria took us on a journey from Farringdon to St Paul's, telling the tales of the London women who made the mistake of being different or unpopular - often branded as witches or agents of Satan because society (i.e. men in power) decided such difference needed punishment. Maria brought each character to life in hilarious fashion - but with the right level of pathos and reflection when the fate of the women started to become clear. At each location, we were treated to vibrant stories of life and death against a backdrop of vivid history. I'm familiar with all of the places we visited, but Maria's research and performance made the night unique and unforgettable. We met medieval healers and Elizabethan social climbers, pagan priestesses and wartime mediums. Each location brought a new surprise and a new story - just check the shadows whenever you stop...
Hex and the City has been extended into March and you can book places here. Herstorical Tours' next project is 'Harlots' and will showcase the stories of women from London's seedier streets. Highly recommended.
For more information on laid back event photography in London, you can now check availability and provisionally book me directly through my website.