This historic pub, on the south bank of the Thames, is a favourite with tourists. It has several bars, a restaurant and roof terrace, and a large seating area on the riverbank. A fish and chip shop was added a while ago. The oldest and most atmospheric part of the building with its low beams, exposed brickwork and open fireplaces, has been converted into a tea rooms. Not open to the public, but available for functions, is the beautiful Shakespeare Room, which is clad in mellow 18th century pine panelling.
The Anchor was rebuilt in 1676 after fire devastated the area. The pub’s original structure has been added-to over the centuries, creating a maze of odd little beamed rooms. One is named after Samuel Johnson, the lexicographer and writer, who drank here regularly and was a friend of the Thrale’s who owned the pub and the phenomenally successful Anchor porter brewery, which when offered for sale, Johnson said ‘We are not here to sell a parcel of boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice’. A copy of Johnson’s dictionary is on display. It was from this pub that Samuel Pepys witnessed the awesome destruction of the Great Fire of London in 1666. He describes the dreadful heat and “fire drops” falling on him whilst in a boat on the river. He sought refuge in “a little alehouse on bankside …..and there watched the fire grow”.
The Anchor has a new old neighbour too, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre recreated just along the waterfront and Bankside’s cultural boom continues with the Tate Modern gallery a little further upstream. The local streets are full of character and are a favourite location for film-makers; Tom Cruise has a pint outside the Anchor in ‘Mission Impossible’.