The Streets Of Pleasure: London’s Red Light District In 18th Century

October 17, 2023
The Baroness 

The voice echoing through the bustling alleys is none other than the Herstorical Tours led by Maria and her team, where they let us delve into the intriguing world of sex work in London. 

Starting off with fascinating facts about prostitution being a flourishing industry in the 18th century, we first explored the bustling streets where women earned their living and showed you the brothels and taverns where they worked.

Jubilee Market Hall, Covent Garden

One of London's most iconic landmarks, Covent Garden, has a darker side to its vibrant history as it served as a hub for the sex trade, which was documented in Harris' List of Pimps and Prostitutes, also known as the "Directory of Sin".

Covent Garden Station

Did you know that 1 in 5 women worked either full-time or part-time in this industry? These women were divided into different classes, ranging from the lower-class "Bunters" to the high-class "Courtesans" or "Nuns." Additionally, some men even dressed up as women — called "Mollys." As the group walked to the square of Venus, it was then referred to as the place where the ladies of the night would meet their clients and conduct their business.

The Maiden Lane 

On Maiden Lane, girls are trapped here, thinking they are going to be serving girls in a stately home and being locked in a whore house. Many women had to resort to selling their virginity to make a living. In better establishments, they learned some skills like dance or music.

One particular lucky Courtesan, whose story receives the most attention, grew up in a brothel, but do not let her upbringing fool you because this lady had both beauty and brains, particularly a keen business sense. She wisely invested in opening a high-end brothel. She was a master of public relations—a trendsetter!

The tour of London's sex-worker history was eye-opening and informative. Maria and her team took us through the streets where these women worked and lived, sharing stories of their struggles and triumphs. It was heartbreaking to hear about the struggles these women faced, but it was also inspiring to learn about their resilience and determination to make a better life for themselves.

The highlight of the tour was the captivating storytelling. Maria’s acting was nothing short of exceptional. It was far beyond what one would expect from a tour experience. She captivated us all with her impeccable ability to bring stories to life through dramatic and comedic performances. Throughout the entire tour, she kept us engaged and entertained. Her ability to switch between different characters leaves us in awe. Her acting was of a quality that is usually reserved for high-performing theatres. But the experience was not just about entertainment alone; it was equally informative. The team demonstrated an impressive depth of knowledge.

The exceptional performance and immersive storytelling by Herstorical Tours of how prostitution was structured made us feel like we were part of history, leaving us with a connection with the women who contributed to the empowerment we have to this day.

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