Contributions to the institutions – Prisons, hospitals, schools and churches of SE1.
Borough & Bermondsey can lay claim to an amazing array of institutions over the centuries. It has to be said that they have had their fair share of prisons over the years for sure. From the infamous Clink, to the mostly unknown White Lion, and the notorious Marshalsea , there have also been many more.
Not only was Borough the ‘head office’ of prisons in South London but a high proportion of ancient and respected hospitals grew from the area and are still highly visible today. One of the world’s finest educational institutions was born in Borough, and although some were devastated during WW2, there remain some fine examples of religious venues around SE1.
So join Ade on a walk around this interesting of interesting areas. We’ll hear of the Dickens connection to the Marshalsea, look up to Europe’s oldest operating theatre, try to coach you in the old Inns of Borough high street, whilst telling my own tales of Chaucer.
We’ll start at the beginning and inform of the origins of Southwark. It’s reputation as the entertainment centre of old London as the City across the bridge enforced more and more laws on the people. The theatres were here, the pubs were here, the bear and bull baiting was here, and the women were here! Maybe it’s of no coincidence that hospitals and prisons sprung up in this most raucous of districts!
On our stroll around Borough and Bermondsey today, we will take in the history of an area which has never been what we may call affluent, and the sociopolitical implications this had, and to some extent still has today on the area. Parts of the community have definitely changed. New social groups have moved in and the area has certainly been gentrified, for better or worse.
Borough high street was once the ‘gateway to the south’. Every few yards along the High Street, one would have found a yard or alleyway with a coaching inn in it. You would have stayed in an inn that would have provided you with a carriage to your destination of choice. This Inn for Portsmouth, that Inn for Canterbury etc. Many of the original yards still exist and one of the inns also, the magnificent George Inn.
So join me and let’s enjoy the freedom of discussing these ancient prisons, revel in a sober conversation about the old inns, and have a more than healthy chat about hospitals.
Take a stroll with Ade, a qualified London Borough Guide
‘Enthusing the enthusiastic’