Newspaper advertisement from 1818 showing some of the routes and services to the The Cross Keys inn.

The Cross Keys on Wood Street, in the heart of the City of London, was a former coaching and posting inn that was well-known to the Victorian writer Charles Dickens. Coaches would bring parcels, letters and passengers from major towns and cities and end their journeys here.


Charles Dickens and the Cross Keys.

The Cross Keys is the inn where Charles Dickens arrived in London by coach from Rochester as a boy. He used it in some of his works.

In the novel Great Expectations, Pip, travels to London to start his new life. In Chapter 20 he arrives in the city here at the Cross Keys:

The journey from our town to the metropolis was a journey of about five hours. It was a little past midday when the four-horse stage-coach by which I was a passenger, got into the ravel of traffic frayed out about the Cross Keys, Wood Street, Cheapside, London.


In the essay Dullborough Town, later published in The Uncommercial Traveller (Chapter 12), Dickens recalls his journey from Chatham as a boy:

I call my boyhood’s home (and I feel like a Tenor in an English Opera when I mention it) Dullborough. Most of us come from Dullborough who come from a country town.

As I left Dullborough in the days when there were no railroads in the land, I left it in a stage-coach. Through all the years that have since passed, have I ever lost the smell of the damp straw in which I was packed–like game–and forwarded, carriage paid, to the Cross Keys, Wood-street, Cheapside, London? There was no other inside passenger, and I consumed my sandwiches in solitude and dreariness, and it rained hard all the way, and I thought life sloppier than I had expected to find it.



All that remains of the inn is a paved area in the adjacent churchyard that belonged to St. Peter Cheap in Wood Street.

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