Bermondsey is a thriving business and social area on the south side of the River Thames. It found prominence as the location of Bermondsey Abbey in the middle ages. The abbey was dissolved during Tudor times and the area developed into the centre of London’s leather processing industry. Many of the street names bear witness to its leather making past. Rotherhithe, to the east of Bermondsey, was a great maritime centre of dockyards, wharves, ship breaking and repair facilities. It was also the home-port of the ship that carried the Pilgrim Fathers to America.
This walk takes you through Bermondsey, along the south side of the River Thames to Rotherhithe – and back for beers in Bermondsey!
From London Bridge station, head south down Bermondsey Street. The street retains its original character and has many early Georgian houses. No 78 (pictured left) is a fine example with an oriel window and weatherboarded attic workroom.
At the end of Bermondsey Street is the old parish watch-house. This is where parish constables kept a watch out on the adjacent graveyard of the Church of St Mary Magdalen, preventing so called ‘resurrection men’ from stealing freshly buried corpses.
Bermondsey Street. The Church of St Mary Magdalen and the old parish watch-house.
The streets off Bermondsey Street retain many former warehouses, now converted into offices and residential use.
At the intersection of Bermondsey Street and Tower Bridge Road is the entrance to The New Caledonian Antiques Market (every Friday). Only the green-painted houses remain from the original Georgian square on this site.
Cross Tower Bridge Road and head east along Grange Walk. Several very old houses survive here. No. 7 is one of the best. You can just make out the surviving gate hinges (from the original Bermondsey Abbey) at the bottom centre of the picture (above the third ‘w’).
Bermondsey United Charity School for Girls from the 1830’s, on Grange Walk.
67 Grange Walk. A fine Georgian house recently restored with assistance from English Heritage.
Join Abbey Street and proceed under the railway bridge. This supports the first railway line into the capital; the Greenwich Railway built in 1836.
The 1836 fluted columns under the Greenwich Railway bridge at Abbey Street.
From Abbey Street head north to George Row to come out at the river at Bermondsey Wall. Opposite, on the north bank of the river, is the former entrance to London Dock. London Dock was the second to open in London in 1805 (after the West India Docks three years earlier). It enjoyed a valuable monopoly since any ships carrying certain commodities (tobacco, wine, brandy, rice) had to unload here. The dock was filled in in the 1960’s.
Cherry Garden Pier on Bermondsey Wall East. This is the spot from where JMW Turner painted the French warship Temeraire on its way to a breaker’s yard at Rotherhithe, in 1839. See the painting in the National Gallery.
The partially excavated remains of a manor house belonging to King Edward III, dating to the 1340’s, on Bermondsey Wall East and Cathay Street. The manor house may also have been used by King Henry IV.
The Angel pub on Bermondsey Wall East.
The first floor restaurant of the Angel pub on Bermondsey Wall East. One of the best views of the City of London and Tower Bridge, looking west at dusk.
From Bermondsey Wall East head east to the start of Rotherhithe Street, one of the longest streets in London. Formerly a main thoroughfare of a major centre of shipbuilding.
From Rotherhithe Street emerge into the old village of Rotherhithe. St Mary’s Church was built by local people in 1715.
A memorial in the churchyard of St Mary’s Church to Captain Christopher Jones, captain of the Mayflower.
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The former village school in Rotherhithe. Notice the two small figures, dressed in blue garments, above the door. The school was founded in 1612, although this building dates from 1797.
The Mayflower pub in Rotherhithe village. It was from near this spot that the Pilgrim Fathers berthed the Mayflower, before setting sail in 1620. The pub, originally built in 1550, was known as the Shippe Inn and later the Spread Eagle – before being renamed The Mayflower in 1956.
The Mayflower pub river terrace, centre left, offers a great view of the river and the maritime heritage of Rotherhithe.
Tower Bridge and the City of London. The ‘Walkie Talkie’ Building (centre) at 20 Fenchurch Street has a fabulous ‘Sky Garden’ covering the top floor levels.
The City of London from Bermondsey Wall East
Druid Street (looking west) in Bermondsey with the railway arches of the London-Greenwich railway (1836), heading towards London Bridge Station. The Shard (by Renzo Piano) is Europe’s tallest building.
Druid Street is home to a number of micro-breweries operating out of the railway arches.
Druid Street, Bermondsey
Returning to Bermondsey Street for a beer or two at the many pubs and restaurants!