Take a tour of Victorian London circa 1868
It’s such a rarity that massive AAA titles are set in good old Blighty, so with the launch of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, we thought we’d take a tour of the capital – circa 1868.
Set during the Industrial Revolution, Syndicate manages to replicate the feel and setting of TrustedReviews’ home city perfectly.
We’ve explored the entire city, as represented in the game, and it’s huge. We’re talking 30% larger than the map of Paris you found in Assassin’s Creed Unity.
It’s littered with London landmarks that still exist today, so we’ve picked out the top 22 that you need to clamber all over when you play Syndicate.
Don’t forget to read our extensive Assassin’s Creed Syndicate review
The Borough of Westminster
1. 10 Downing Street
Well, if you’re going to start somewhere, you might as well start at the heart of Westminster – 10 Downing Street. It was then, as it is now, the home of the British Prime Minister.
In Syndicate, it’s actually a far more pleasant place than it is now. More open, fewer armed guards and it isn’t surrounded by paparazzi. Heck, you can even go in the garden.
N.B Ignore the civilians crying murder in this clip; I didn’t kill the PM, I just took out some Blighters.
2. Buckingham Palace
If you’re more of a traditionalist and fancy checking out where the Queen calls home (Queen Elizabeth II now or Queen Victoria then) you’ll want to pay Buckingham Palace a visit.
You can approach it by taking a stroll through either of two stunning Royal Parks – St James’ Park or Green Park – or just do what we did and clamber over the railings.
It was originally known as Buckingham House, but the building that forms the core of the palace was built in 1703. During the 19th century it was then enlarged, and became the official royal palace of the British monarchy on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837.
The game will let you enter the Palace at a certain point in the game (no spoilers), but when we decided to scope out the city early on in our playthrough, it was very much a hotbed of Blighters.
3. Horse Guards
If you head over the other side of St James’ Park towards 10 Downing Street you’ll come across Horse Guards. It was built back in 1664 on the site of the former tiltyards of Westminster Palace, but was then demolished in 1749.
What you’ll see in Syndicate, as you will today, is the building that was erected between 1750-1753.
In 1868 it served as the offices of the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, and was patrolled by the busby-wearing Palace Guards. Just as it is today.
Our favourite pastime is knocking the busbies off the heads of the Palace Guards. It’s fun, try it!
4. Houses of Parliament
Arguably the most iconic of London’s landmarks, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are there in all their glory in Syndicate.
You can sprint along the corridors, get access to the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and even climb up the face of the clock tower to get a glimpse of the Big Ben bell itself.
Just be careful you don’t stand next to it when the clock strikes the hour…
5. Victoria Station
So Syndicate doesn’t quite have the Monopoly board of London train stations, but it does have quite a few. Victoria, located at the very left-hand side of the map, is just one such station.
Named after the nearby Victoria Street, which was built for the reigning monarch Victoria at the time of Syndicate, it’s an important station for London. Especially because it’s the closest mainline station to Buckingham Palace.
It was opened in 1860, just eight years before the game is set and is well known for its pitched glass ceiling. Nowadays, some 81 million passengers trudge through its entries and exits (statistics from April 2013 – March 2014), making it the second-busiest station in the whole of London.
6. Westminster Abbey
This large Gothic abbey is just a stone’s throw from the Houses of Parliament and is one of the most notable religious buildings in the UK as a whole.
It’s been the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and then British monarchs for hundreds of years.
In fact, reports suggest a church has sat on this site since the 7th century, but the construction of the present church began in 1245, under the orders of King Henry III.
7. Covent Garden
Although Covent Garden might be home to the best Apple Store and niche boutiques nowadays, back in 1868 Covent Garden housed a fruit and vegetable market found in the central square.
The open-air market was built in 1654, but you’ll be intrigued to hear that by the 18th century Covent Garden was a well-known red-light district.
It’s had quite the history.
8. Leicester Square
The area now known as Leicester Square was originally marked out back in 1670, as a gentrified residential area.
That’s why in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate you’ll notice noblemen and other poshies wandering around the green space with that famous fountain in the centre.
Even today, despite the Odeon cinemas, M&M stores and other distractions, there’s still that (semi-)peaceful greenery in the centre with that mesmerising fountains.
9. Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus is now mainly defined by its 24-hour glowing billboards and surrounding theatres showing colourful musicals. But back in 1868, people went to Piccadilly Circus for a very different reason.
Originally it was called Piccadilly Circus after a house belonging to Robert Baker, a tailor famous for its piccadills or piccadillies – a term used for various kinds of collars.
But then the word became related to dillies, or prostitutes, with the location being known for a place you could literally “pick a dilly”.
In fact, in the video clip below, you’ll hear one of the men in the area advertising his dillies to the world.
10. St Mary le Strand
If you’re a Londoner or a regular London-goer, you might recognise the little church that is St Mary le Strand. Today it sits on what is basically a traffic island to the north of Somerset House and is still the official church of the Women’s Royal Naval Service.
It offers you a lovely view in Syndicate, even if you can’t take a wander inside.
11. Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is one of the spots in London that really hasn’t changed over time. There’s Nelson’s Column at the centre, with its four lions guarding the base, and the fountain nearby.
You can climb all the way to the top of Nelson’s Column, which is actually an Eagle Point in Syndicate, and survey the land.
You’ll notice that the National Gallery is in exactly the same spot as it is now – although sadly you won’t be able to peruse the artwork within. It was founded in 1824, and it’s done really well for its age.
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The Borough of Whitechapel
12. Spitalfields Market
Now known as Old Spitalfields Market, this site is actually a very historical market. It was first built back in 1638 when King Charles gave a license for “flesh, fowl and roots” to be sold on what was then called Spittle Fields.
After the rights to hold a market seemingly lapsed during the Commonwealth, King Charles II re-founded the market in 1682 in order to feed the ever-growing population of London.
It was then that the market buildings were erected, which you’ll see in Syndicate and also if you head there today.
13. Kings Cross St Pancras Station
St Pancras Station is still famous today for its glorious Victorian architecture, and was actually opened in 1868 – the exact year Syndicate is set – by the Midland Railway.
It’s the southern terminus of the main Midway rail line, which connects London with the East Midlands and Yorkshire.
Fun fact: the Barlow train shed, which you can see in the game, was the largest single-span roof in the world when it opened.
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The City of London
14. Bank of England
Originally established in 1694, the Bank of England is the second oldest central bank in the world.
It’s been at its current location on Threadneedle Street since 1734 and has a rather impressive, golden interior.
You can walk around the bank in Syndicate and admire its wealth, and hopefully earn some of your own as you progress through the game.
15. Holborn Viaduct
This ornate red bridge links Holborn with Newgate Street in the financial district of London.
The viaduct spans Holborn Hill and the River Fleet Valley, at a whopping length of 1400 feet and 80-feet wide.
Built between 1863 and 1869, it improved access to the city from the West End, helping traffic flow and distribution.
The bridge is still there today, and is stunningly recreated in Syndicate.
16. Mansion House
Mansion House was, and still is, the official residence of the Mayor of London. It was built between 1739 and 1752 in the Palladian style that was fashionable at the time – and was used on other buildings in the capital, including Horse Guards.
It originally had two prominent and unusual structures at either end, which you can see in Syndicate. They were removed in 1794 and 1843, but were originally nicknamed the Mayor’s Nest and Noah’s Ark.
17. Monument to the Great Fire of London
Although the Monument to the Great Fire of London is now simply known as Monument, it’s named in its full glory in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.
It stands at 60m tall and just 62m from the spot in Pudding Lane where the Great Fire of London started on September 2 1666.
The Monument features a column built from Portland store topped with a gilded urn of fire.
It was constructed between 1671 and 1677 and is still the tallest isolated stone column in the world.
Although in reality you’ll need to climb a narrow winding staircase of 311 steps to reach the viewing platform at the top, in Syndicate you’ll be able to climb directly up the exterior of the column.
18. Royal Exchange
The Royal Exchange was originally built in 1571, but has been twice destroyed by fire and subsequently rebuilt. It was first destroyed in the Great Fire of London, with a second complex built in 1669. That also burnt down in 10 January 1838, was then rebuilt in 1837.
This is the building you’ll see today and in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. It’s a four-sided structure that surrounds a central courtyard where merchants and tradesmen do their business.
It was actually one of the first buildings to make use of concrete.
The Royal Exchange was then opened by Queen Victoria in October of 1844, with trading eventually commencing in January 1845.
19. St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral has defiantly stood the test of time. It’s one of the only London buildings that can boast surviving both World Wars completely intact.
The present cathedral, which sits on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London, was built in the late 17th Century. It’s one of the most famous and recognisable sights of London.
That’s thanks to its huge dome, framed by a pair of spires. It’s actually the second largest church in the UK after Liverpool Cathedral.
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The Borough of Southwark
20. London Bridge Station
The London Bridge Station of today is barely recognisable from the roots you’ll see in the 1868 London of Syndicate. It was only opened in December 1836, but that still makes it the oldest and first in the current London railway termini.
Currently London Bridge Station is being revamped and re-built to make it bigger and busier. So you’ll hardly recognise it today from its origins.
21. Waterloo Station
London Waterloo Station was built back in 1848, 20 years before Syndicate is set.
Today it’s the Central London terminus for South West Trains and provides the majority of the commuter and regional services to South West London, Surrey, Hampshire Dorset and Berkshire.
When it opened it was originally known as Waterloo Bridge Station, from the nearby Waterloo Bridge over the river Thames. But by 1886, it was officially renamed Waterloo Station thanks to long-term useage of the name.
Between April 2013 and March 2014, Waterloo saw just under 100 million passengers pass through it, making it the UK’s busiest railway station and the 15th busiest in Europe.
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The Borough of Lambeth
22. Lambeth Palace
It took a long time for the Borough of Lambeth to be developed because the land was low and sodden. It was originally known as Lambeth Marsh.
Lambeth Palace as it stands in Syndicate and today was completed in 1834 by Edward Blore, who also rebuilt much of Buckingham Palace later on in life.
These buildings form the Archbishop of Canterbury’s home and office, who is ex officio a member of the House of Lords – hence the Palace’s close proximity to Westminster.