Start at the Bunch of Grapes pub in St. Thomas St. near London Bridge Station and Guy’s Hospital. This Young’s pub is usually heaving at lunchtimes and early evening, with a lively crowd of local office workers. The beers are well kept and the high turnover ensures a fresh pint. The Bunch of Grapes has some nice features including a compact but pleasant outside seating area at the rear.
Leave the Bunch of Grapes and turn left. Cross the busy Borough High Street and into Bedale Street opposite.
A few yards on and you will see, under an enormous steel structure the poor Globe pub. It’s a curiously shaped pub, made to fit the corner and perhaps a little reminiscent of the shape of its namesake, The Globe Theatre. Okay well maybe a little far fetched. The pub claims it is on the site but nobody is sure. Inside its an interesting place and worth a little investigation.
Leave the Globe, turn right and continue down Bedale Street which becomes Cathedral Street, where on the right you will come across Southwark Cathedral. This church became a cathedral in 1905; its origins are 12th century when it was part of a priory. Among its memorials is an effigy of John Harvard, founder of Harvard University, he was baptised here in 1607. (More Harvard later).
Bear left past the Cathedral at the modern building ahead. Through the gap you will see a replica of the Golden Hinde, Francis Drake’s Tudor warship. It’s hard to believe this is a full-size replica of the ship in which he circumnavigated the globe in 1577 to 1580. Well worth a visit to get an idea of the cramped conditions inside.
The Old Thameside Inn isn’t a bad pub if you want to have look out over the Thames for a while. Alternatively carry on down Pickfords Wharf and into Clink Street.
On the left are the remains of the palace of the Bishops of Winchester, note the fine rose window. Next to this is Clink Prison, now a museum which chronicles the unpleasant conditions and instruments of torture. The ‘Clink’ as it became known was closed in 1780.
Walk to the end of Clink Street and turn right into Bank End and walk to the end by the river. Here you will find The Anchor. This amazing old pub has stood here for centuries and it’s probably the pub where Samuel Pepys watched London burn during the Great Fire of 1666.
The Anchor built a controversial extension which did nothing to enhance the overall building. The nicest and most historic part is on the corner, the bars in this side are quaint and atmospheric.
Retrace your steps but this time follow Park Street until you reach the T junction with Stoney Street and Borough Market. This ancient market is known to have existed in the 12th century but has claims to Roman origins. London Bridge was the first and only bridge across the Thames and it would be a logical place for a market, near a busy thoroughfare.
Recent development has seen a new rail viaduct cut through the market which required the demolition of many old buildings, some of them listed, including the Wheatsheaf pub.
Console yourself with a drink in the appropriately named Market Tavern. It has a good reputation for real ales and has a wide selection on tap at all times. It once had its own brewhouse but sadly it was closed some time ago.
Leave the Market Tavern and proceed toward Borough High Street again. The Southwark Tavern is at the end of the street. Cross diagonally into Borough High Street to the left. Walk along the far pavement heading away from London Bridge. Soon on the left look for a small yard and a sign to the George Inn.
At 77 Borough High Street the George Inn is probably London’s finest inn. It is the last of London’s galleried coaching inns and was rebuilt in 1676 following a fire which destroyed much of this area. The Old Bar is the former waiting room and above are the bedrooms on the galleried landings. Soak up the atmosphere and explore the rambling rooms.
Now leave the courtyard and turn left. Walk along Borough High Street once again and keep an eye out for number 103. Here you will see a plaque stating that this was the site of the Queen’s Head, owned by the family of John Harvard who founded Harvard University. Queen’s Head Yard runs at the side of the building in case of any doubt.
Continue along Borough high Street then turn left into Tabard Street at the lovely St George the Martyr Church. The third church on this site, it was built in 1736 to a classic design by John Price.
Tabard Street is presumably the site of the Tabard Inn from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It was demolished in 1873 despite much protest.
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage
Further on the right side is our final pub the Royal Oak, owned by Harvey’s of Lewes, the Sussex brewer. A step back in time, not to medieval England but to the inter-war years, the Royal Oak is a wonderful pub with an old fashioned charm. Enjoy the fine ales and good traditional pub food.
To return to London Bridge retrace the route back to Borough High Street, turn right and walk to the start of the bridge. London Bridge station is on the right.