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Mayflower in Bankside (1)

An important area for the separatist movement. It was here that the London underground Church was established and religious dissidents were imprisoned. Outside the jurisdiction of the City, this was also a place for inns, theatres and brothels. A strange mix of moral and immoral people of London.

Mayflower in Bankside (1)

The area has always been notorious for it’s scandalous entertainment and and non conformist views within sight of the City but out of it’s thoughts.  Access was relatively easy from the City. There may have been only one bridge, but there were Watermen who would carry passengers across the Thames. We should be able to see one of the seats where they would have waited for a return fare.

This is an area of brothels or ‘stews’, some even licenced by the local bishop, and where ‘outcasts’, including prostitutes were buried in this lawless corner of London.

William Shakespeare would have known the area well, as this was the ‘Theatreland’ of the 16th Century. Theatres fell into the ‘necessary but nasty’ category and many grew up alongside the Thames here, within easy reach of the City. The Globe, Rose and Hope Theatres were here and today we can see a replica of the Globe, and its original site. The theatre were also used for other forms of entertainment, like bear and bull baiting.

Not surprisingly, prisons were also situated here, including the ‘Clink’ which gave its name to all other prisons.  Some people were sent to The Clink for refusing to obey the religious laws of Elizabeth I, thus beginning a tradition of religious dissent within Southwark.  The dissenters founded a prison church under the guidance of John Greenwood, a clergyman, and Henry Barrowe, a lawyer.  They were later executed.  The remaining members of the group continued to meet in secret and in 1620 some members of the Southwark Church were given permission to sail to America. It was this group who went on The Mayflower.

Today Bankside is a vibrant part of London. We will see Borough Market, which has been selling fruit and vegetables since the 13th Century, before the days of the Pilgrims and which is now home to one of London’s flourishing ‘foodie’ sites. Nearby is the Hop Exchange, where hops, used to flavour beer were traded.  We will end our two hours tour keeping this hop theme, at the only galleried inn remaining in London.  It would have been known to the Pilgrims and also both William Shakespeare and Charles Dicken.  You will be following in famous footsteps if you have time to sample an ale and have lunch or an afternoon meal.

Meeting Place:

Virtual Tour



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Registration does not make any commitment on your behalf.  Our guides are available for the tour.  However, provision of all walks is subject to demand.  We would therefore greatly appreciate you letting us know if you decide or are unable to participate.  

Standard ticket prices are £15.00, however concessions are available. Super adults (over 65s) £10.00, junior 8-15 years old (accompanied by an adult) £5.00, 0-8-year-olds go free.


This walk is run in conjunction with London Walks.

Don't worry if you dont live locally or simply cant get out to a walk.  Some of our guided walks are also available as virtual walks.  To see a list of the Heritage and Arts virtual walks currently scheduled click here.

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