Guide to East London

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The Anchor at Bankside

34 Park Street , Southwark, SE1
Tel: (0) 171 407 1577
Tube: London Bridge, Borough

Plenty of outside seating to appreciate a view of the City of London, between Blackfriars and Southwark Bridges. For over 800 years a pub has stood on the site of the Anchor at Bankside. The Diarist, Samuel Pepys watched the Great Fire of London on 2 September 1666 from here. Rebuilt twice itself after devastating fires in 1750 and 1876, the 'Anchor Inn' an unpretentious timbered tavern frequented by dockers and warehousemen is today patronised by office workers.

Walk towards Southwark Bridge and you're in the London that Dickens would recognise immediately. There's a cobbled road under the railway bridge leading to the ghastly 16th century Clink Prison (origin of the expression 'in the clink' for being in jail). Heretics tried and convicted at Southwark Church were kept here until their execution, sometimes by burning, at Smithfield. The prison was burnt down in the 1780 Gordon Riots and the road was used as a film set for Oliver Twist in 1948. Walk a couple of hundred yards in the opposite direction from the Anchor, towards Blackfriars Bridge and you have the replica of the Globe, this has been built three hundred yards from the original theatre site where Shakespeare's plays were performed for the very first time.

The London Palace of the Bishop of Winchester dominated this area since the 13th Century. Only the rose window of the west wall of the 14th Century Palace Hall now remains in Clink Street. Being outside the City Walls, for hundreds of years this was the 'Las Vegas' of London - Southwark was 'the place' for 'entertainment'. Notorious were the Bishop of Winchester's geese, that worked in the many Stews (origin of the term brothels). Henry VIII is said to have met Catherine Howard, his fifth bride at Winchester House in Southwark.

The Anchor was popular with sailors off the tea clippers and 'worthys' such as Dr. Samuel Johnson, famed for writing the first English Dictionary and the writer James Boswell. Todays's pub is complete with a minstrels' gallery, old dark oak beams and cubby holes. It has five bars and three restaurants.

F.T. (Financial Times) Bar
Globe Bar
Thrale Bar
Ale Bar
Dr. Johnsons Room

Lower Chart Restaurant
Upper Chart Restaurant
Shakespeare's Room

In Shakespeare's time, the nearby Southwark Cathedral was the parish church known as St. Saviours. It was here that Shakespeare's younger brother, Edmund is buried.

A local inn-keeper had his son, John Harvard baptised here. John went on to found the first University in the United States. Very close to the Anchor is Borough Market, the oldest wholesale fruit and vegetable market in London. Other nearby pubs open in the early hours of the morning to sell ale to the market workers.

The Marshalsea Prison where Dicken's father was imprisoned for debt in 1824 was also in Southwark. In 'Little Dorrit' (1856) the heroine is born in this prison. Dickens describes it as 'an oblong pile of barrack building, partitioned into squalid houses standing back to back, so that there were no back rooms; environed by a narrow paved yard, hemmed in by high walls duly spiked on top'. The Marshalsea Prison was closed in 1842.

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