London Walking Tours    with Joanna Moncrieff

A lunchtime wander: London Bridge

In my other job as a legal secretary I have spent a considerable part of 2014 working for a firm situated close to Borough Market. There is an enormous amount of things to do in the vicinity and I have probably only scratched the surface so please add your favourites to the comments at the bottom.

Places to sit outside by the river

The area immediately around Borough Market and the Golden Hinde is extremely busy and I would normally avoid this area. There are plenty of other places to sit. However the area between Minerva House (the building you need to walk around to follow the Thames Path from the Golden Hind to Borough Market) and the Glaziers Hall is usually surprisingly quiet. (Not yesterday when I took this photo though – probably because of the bus!)

It could be that you can’t actually see it from Borough Market or Southwark Cathedral Gardens so everyone just crams into the church gardens. The quote on the river wall from Raleigh says it all really – “There are two things scarce matched in the Universe – the sun in heaven and the Thames on earth”.

Follow the river east a bit, underneath London Bridge and you get to the More London Estate. There are plenty of places to sit next to The Scoop (between Hay’s Galleria and Tower Bridge) and there is Potters Field Park too just beyond this. There is usually some form of exhibition on in the area too plus amazing views of Tower Bridge. This photo was taken one lunchtime after a very misty morning.

Places to sit outside away from the river

There is quite a selection of places to sit away from the river although some are rather tucked away. Minutes from Borough Market can be found a lovely quiet  garden. It’s at the junction of Maiden Lane and Park Street SE1. This doesn’t appear to have a name and the park is missing from the map. It’s not so much a garden (ie there is no grass) but it is a lovely shady area with benches and trees where boules is occasionally played. It is literally a hop, skip and a jump away from Borough Market – less than 5 minutes’ walk along Park Street and is just past the junction with Red Cross Way but seems to be largely unknown by many that work in the area.  

If you carry on down Maiden Lane you will come to Gatehouse Square where you will find this unusual sculpture rather hidden within residential dwellings.  There are steps nearby which lead to Southwark Bridge.

Red Cross Gardens

If you were to walk down Red Cross Way from Park Street, negotiating the crossing of Southwark Street (this is the worst bit), past the Cross Bones Graveyard (on your left) and Boot and Flogger wine bar (on your right), then cross Union Street you will then come across a school and the lovely Red Cross Gardens opposite. These are definitely worth seeking out and there is an unexpected and impressive view of the Shard from the gardens. (NB: as far as I know people don’t actually swim in the pond; there was a photo shoot going on on that particular lunchtime!)

If you cross Red Cross Way and then walk down the alleyway to the right of the school – Little Dorrit Court you will pass another area to sit which is always quite busy and quite noisy as there is a children’s playground within – Little Dorrit Park. When you emerge from the other end of the alleyway you are on Borough High Street.

Practically opposite Borough station at the junction with Borough High Street and Marshalsea Road is St George the Martyr Church.

Every Monday lunchtime it is worth visiting St George the Martyr because the crypt downstairs is home to the amazing Dragon Cafe.  It’s very much a space for the community and as well as very reasonably priced food there are regular weekly events such as free 15 minute massages, writing groups, exhibitions, singing, dancing, gardening etc. You do need to sign up on your first visit but there is no charge. An example of a weekly programme is here.

Next to the church are the church grounds surrounded with what is left of the wall that surrounded Marshalsea Prison – the debtors’ prison where Dickens and his family were incarcerated.

Another place to sit is within King’s College Guy’s Campus. There is a farmers’ market here every Tuesday from 9am until 2pm. There is also a museum – the Gordon Museum of Pathology – but it is rarely open to the public.

Places to Eat/Buy Food

Borough Market
If you avoid the busy period and particularly the stalls around Southwark Cathedral there are some gems to be found and I am sure there are many more I haven’t yet discovered.

First of all a quite well known place – The Ginger Pig. The name of this butchers comes from the copper coloured Tamworth pig that they rear themselves on their Yorkshire farm. They started off with a stall in Borough Market but now have a number of shops in London including one in Moxon Street, Marylebone which features on my foodie/hidden pubs of Marylebone walk. The Borough Market stall/shop has a wide range of meat and sausages but also sells their famous sausage roll which is absolutely enormous but there is much more sausage meat than there is pastry and it is absolutely delicious.

Quite close to the Ginger Pig can be found the Brindisa shop – this is separate to the restaurant which is on the corner of Borough High Street. Next to the shop they grill chorizo rolls to order – which are delicious. Here’s a review of this sandwich!

Three Crown Square is the part of the Market that is purely for ingredients so you don’t get caught up in long queues for hot food. This useful map makes it easier to locate stalls.  A couple of my favourites are:

Wildes Cheese – they are known as the urban cheese maker. The cheese is made in a micro dairy in Tottenham from milk from Sussex cows. Last week I bought some of their St Bruce (which I now see is also known as The Drunk as one of the ingredients is Redemption Brewery’s Hopspur). This cheese is particularly recommended for cheese on toast and I have to say that it worked very well and was delicious. Wildes Cheese are at Borough Market a couple of times a week but you can also find them at Richmond Market and quite a few shops around town including several in Walthamstow near me. A list of their stockists can be found here.

Not too far away from Wildes Cheese stall can be found De Calabria’s stall. They sell jars of Sunratomato which is a delicious combination of sundried tomatoes, herbs, chilli and olive oil. I have become quite addicted to it and use it in salad dressings, pasta sauces plus even just on a bit of toast or French bread!

Not all food within and around Borough Market is expensive. Take Maria’s Market Cafe for instance. The cafe has been going (in various forms) since 1961. They are famous for their bubble & squeak.

Little Dorrit Cafe, 11 Park Street

I have already mentioned Little Dorrit Park and Little Dorrit Court but here in Park Street there is also a cafe named after the unfortunate fictional character.  Despite its proximity to Borough Market this cafe is surprisingly good value.  This baked potato was so big I had to take some of it home with me!

Papaya, 109 Borough High Street

Thai cafe on Borough High Street. Reasonably priced and very quick. They also have branches in Soho and Mayfair.

Shrigleys, 125 Borough High Street

Moroccan food. Very tasty and reasonably priced.  The Moroccan chicken salad is especially good. There is always a long queue.

Luncheonette, 47-49 Borough High Street

I only spotted this place after reading the first chapter of Shakespeare’s Local about The George Inn.  It is a very cheap sandwich/pasta bar and there is usually a queue outside.

Pubs and Bars

Quite unlike me I barely know any of the pubs around here. There is of course the famous George but unless you visit mid afternoon it is usually very busy. Click on the 4th photo along on this link from Londonist to see my impossible to eat sandwich!

I have heard good things about The Wheatsheaf but have yet to visit.  More a bar than a pub but serving beer and ciders from the Utobeer Borough Market stall The Rake in Winchester Walk is definitely worth visiting. It is very small though.

A bit further afield and a few minutes’ walk from St George The Martyr church there is a great traditional pub – the Royal Oak – I was there when the photos on the link were taken but thankfully I’m not in any of them!

Lastly I recently stumbled across The Wine Pantry in Stoney Street. This is an amazing place. They only sell English wine and British produce.  I didn’t have much time to browse – I will return but notice their amazing selection of gin – 3 shelves full including my favourite Bathtub Gin, Look at all the different type of tonics in the picture too. Apparently lemongrass tonic goes well with Bathtub Gin. I can’t wait to try it.

Not only is it a shop but there is a small wine bar within where they are happy if you bring in your lunch  from Borough Market and enjoy it there with a glass of wine.  I’m looking forward to returning soon.

Free recitals

There is a weekly free organ recital on Mondays at 1pm at Southwark Cathedral and on the third Thursday of every month there’s a free recital at St George The Martyr.*

*Updated 12.02.15. See Tom Tired of London’s blog post here on a series of free lunchtime concerts from January to March 2015 at Guy’s Hospital Chapel (and St Thomas’s Hospital too).

Museum

The Old Operating Theatre Museum in St Thomas Street is really worth the climb up the spiral staircase. Entrance is £6.50 but it’s half price if you have a National Trust membership card!

Something a bit different

Cross Bones Graveyard - this is worth seeking out in Redcross Way. It’s an unconsecrated graveyard to prostitutes known as the Winchester Geese who worked under the control of the Bishop of Winchester. The graveyard was uncovered with the building of the extension of the Jubilee line in the 1990s. At that time 148 skeletons were removed. Much more about the graveyard and the memorial gates can be found here.

Folk music at the Golden Hinde

Technically I shouldn’t include this as it’s not a lunchtime event but on the first Friday night of the month the Golden Hinde is host to the Tiller Flat Folk Club. Entrance is the bargain price of £5 (although it was £3 when I visited in May – the same night as Tom) but you do need to book in advance. I have been once and it was a great night.

Lastly I really should mention the excellent SE1 website  – www.london-se1.co.uk which is really worth checking out and signing up for their weekly newsletter full of local events.

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As you can probably tell from the photos taken in the summer I have been writing this post for quite a long time. There is so much to do in the area I fear I shall never finish this post so am going to post it as is. I look forward to hearing in the comments about places I’ve missed especially pubs!

This is the 5th in an occasional series of lunchtime wanderings. I have previously written about Chancery Lane, Fleet Street, Marylebone and Westminster. NB: some of the older posts contain premises that are unfortunately no longer in business.

The author of this blog (Joanna Moncrieff) is a qualified City of Westminster Tour Guide who specialises in food and drink themed walks in the West End of London. 
Details of all her walks are listed here.  
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3 Responses to A lunchtime wander: London Bridge

  • Great post with lots of wonderful suggestions (some of my favorites, and some new to me). A bit further afield, and only open at the weekend but well worth the visit, is Maltby Street Market in the Ropewalk in Bermondsey. All kinds of tasty food from the vendors in the Ropewalk, and several under the arches. We got food from the vendors and then sat in the tapas bar to eat and wash it down with a big bottle of Asturian cider.

  • I'm glad it is of use – thanks MJ! I do know about Maltby Street but just haven't yet visited. I must make a point of going soon. I realised today that I have missed out my favourite Borough Market stalls and spent an hour adding them tonight before my PC crashed and I ended up back at the beginning. I need some sleep now but they should be added by Saturday morning.

  • The post is now updated with my favourite Borough Market stalls.

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