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HOME AT FIRST'S

ADVENTURE

LONDON

The Anchor

A Pub Worth A Crawl

 PART ONE 

 

FOLLOWING THE QUEEN'S WALK FROM TOWER BRIDGE TO THE TATE MODERN
Today, there are more reasons than ever to escape to the south side of the Thames,
not the least of which is a visit to a thriving 17th century pub, The Anchor, still
slaking thirsts after all these years. Can you walk and read at the same time?

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN OCTOBER, 2002.                             LAST REVISED: 2013.

 

         The seamy, seedy south side of the Thames has mostly been the wrong side of the tracks in London. In Roman and medieval times it was the start of the countryside, unprotected by the walls of the civilized city of the North Bank. Later, Renaissance London made the South Bank its commercial port, the blue collar shoulders of the Elizabethan city-state. Here were exiled wharf rats, criminals, actors and other ne’er-do-wells, persona non grata in Her Majesty’s London Towne. To be sure, enough highbrowed Londoners crossed London Bridge to Southwark’s Globe Theatre to enjoy a scandalous time at the latest play from the bawdy Bard, Shakespeare. But the south side was more known for its dark, looming warehouses and ghostly, fog-enshrouded piers, and that first infamous debtors’ prison, The Clink, than it was for great theater. And most City Londoners would have to be forced to go across to the South Bank. When things got hot on the north bank in the 17th

Begin walking west along the Thames Path at St. Katharine's Marina. Photo © Home At First.
BEGIN WALKING WEST
ALONG THE THAMES PATH
AT ST. KATHARINE'S MARINA.

Photo © HOME AT FIRST

century, they were.

 

THE WEEK LONDON DISAPPEARED.

Is London burning? St. Paul's with the Southwark Bridge as seen from the South Bank by the Anchor Pub. Photo © Home At First.
IS LONDON BURNING? ST. PAUL'S WITH
THE SOUTHWARK BRIDGE AS SEEN FROM
THE SOUTH BANK AT THE ANCHOR PUB.
Photo © HOME AT FIRST

          The impossibly crowded conditions of the enclosed City on the North Bank reached the tinder mark in September, 1666. The forests of Britain had been laid waste to house the swelling, prosperous population. Everywhere along the convoluted streets of The City (that oldest part of London, still partially walled from Roman and medieval times in 1666), thatched, wooden buildings wedged shoulder to shoulder. Like Mrs. O’Leary’s frontier Chicago two centuries later, London was a tinderbox awaiting a spark. When it finally happened — early Sunday morning, September 2 — the spark was a baker’s oven

 

fire that had not been doused.

          The fire quickly became a holocaust, trapping and killing thousands, and laying waste to ancient London. Fortunately there was old London Bridge, the original, fabled by nursery rhyme. Many of those who could flee escaped over the already ancient bridge to Southwark, to safety.
          When the smoke cleared, the City was gone. Christopher Wren led the many who rebuilt it, no longer in a rude medieval hodge-podge, but now in an impressive, optimistic, grand style. The Monument (near Bank) is Wren’s memorial to the victims of the Great Fire. His St. Paul’s Cathedral, built on the site of a church destroyed in the fire, is Wren’s crowning achievement, monument to what was arguably the greatest city of the super power of the day.

          The City of London we visit today is architecturally about as old as Philadelphia. These two great English cities of the 17th century shared many of the same architects and styles. However, hidden from most visitors, and just across the new London Bridge, there remain many of the great relics of ancient London, a London untouched by the Great Fire and the high-minded architects that followed.

 

GET THIRSTY WALKING THROUGH SOUTHWARK.

          Start crawling from Home At First's London Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina or The Brewery. From St. Katharine’s Marina follow the Thames Path (North Bank section) west along the river west a short way to the stairway leading up to the Tower Bridge's east-side walkway. Cross the Tower Bridge, then descend the stairs on the south side leading to the Thames Path (South Bank section) Queen's Walk pathway that passes underneath the bridge abutment. From The Brewery, walk north along the west side of Tower Bridge Road to the Thames.
          Follow The Queen's Walk west along the

The River Thames, looking east from London Bridge. There's lots of river traffic, including the moored heavy cruiser HMS Belfast. The Tower Bridge must open its drawbridge roadway to permit ships of significant height to enter the downtown London section of the Thames. Photo © Home At First.
THE RIVER THAMES, LOOKING EAST FROM
LONDON BRIDGE. THERE'S LOTS OF RIVER
TRAFFIC, INCLUDING THE MOORED HEAVY
CRUISER HMS BELFAST. THE TOWER BRIDGE
MUST OPEN ITS DRAWBRIDGE ROADWAY TO
PERMIT SHIPS OF SIGNIFICANT HEIGHT TO
ENTER THE DOWNTOWN LONDON SECTION
OF THE THAMES.  
Photo © HOME AT FIRST

Thames, passing the lopsided beehive of London's

 

City Hall, then past the pier entrance of the British

London's "leaving beehive" City Hall along The Queen's Walk, as seen from the Tower Bridge. Photo © Home At First.
London's "leaning beehive" City
Hall along The Queen's Walk,
as seen from The Tower Bridge.
Photo © HOME AT FIRST

Navy's permanently-moored WWII light cruiser, HMS Belfast, and past the riverside Hay's Galleria shopping mall to London Bridge. Climb the stairway ramps on the east side of London Bridge and turn left — away from the Thames — on Borough High Street.
 
LONDON CITY HALL IS OPEN WEEKDAYS TO VISITORS from 8:30AM (Mo-Th to 6PM; Fr to 5:30PM). City Hall maintains exhibitions of London themes, hosts special events, and has an on-site café. ADMISSION: FREE.
 
HMS BELFAST IS OPEN DAILY FROM 10AM (MAR-OCT until 6PM; NOV-FEB until 5PM; closed 24-26DEC). SIGNIFICANT ADMISSION CHARGED, but children under 16 are admitted free.
 
HAY'S GALLERIA IS OPEN DAILY with shops, cafés, & restaurants.
 

          Cross Borough High Street (east to west) one block south of the London Bridge at Montague Close. Walk south a block along Borough High Street toward the overhead railway bridge leading from London Bridge Station. In just seconds your marked path leaves the crush of bridge

 

traffic behind by descending a set of stairs to the right.

Here you enter (open daily 8AM-6PM) a great sanctuary of peace and spirituality — beautiful, Gothic Southwark Cathedral, most of which dates from about 1220-1420A.D., but claims much older antecedent churches on the site. Although less remarked than Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s, its very obscurity has preserved its splendor. English saint Thomas à Becket preached here in the 12th century.

          Nearly as old as Westminster,

 

Southwark Cathedral has surely counted more great playwrights and actors among its reverent visitors than Hollywood’s Forest Lawn. William Shakespeare, many of whose plays were first performed in the neighborhood, probably attended services here. The Bard's brother, Edmund, is buried here. A large stained glass window commemorating Shakespeare was installed in the cathedral in the 19th century.
 

SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL IS OPEN DAILY 8AM-6PM.
Main visiting times are 10AM-5PM. Visitors are requested to remain still & silent during hourly prayers held between 10:30AM-4:30PM.

ADMISSION is free, but donations are invited at the entry point. Photography permitted inside the cathedral

Southwark Cathedral. Photo © Home At First.
SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL. SHAKESPEARE
LIKELY ATTENDED SERVICES HERE.
Photo © HOME AT FIRST

for a £2 fee (but no filming permitted during services).
Cathedral Shop, Refectory (for snacks & light meals), and public toilets available.
 

   

 

Learn how to plan your own journey of discovery
to London with Home At First.

This walk is one of the many suggested walks and other activities
included in Home At First's exclusive "London Activity Guide".

The "London Activity Guide" is the accompanying guidebook keyed to Home At First's
London travel program. It is issued only to all Home At First London guests.
Get yours by traveling to
London with Home At First.

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