The traditional pub is the centre of many a British community, in London just as much as anywhere else in the country. Here we bring you the first in a series exploring the different neighbourhoods of London and the finest pubs you can find within them, beginning with the area directly across the River Thames from the historic City or ‘Square Mile’ – London Bridge.
London Bridge is best reached via the Northern line on the London Underground, though the mainline train station serves as London’s main hub for the areas of England to the south and east of the capital. The area sits within the London Borough of Southwark, and incorporates the smaller area known a little confusingly as Borough, to the south.
Just across the road from another famous London Bridge attraction, Borough Market, the Market Porter is a traditional alehouse with a huge and ever-changing array of real ales on tap. A dark and cosy interior complements the beer and uncomplicated pub food, though a more extensive lunch menu is available in the restaurant upstairs. The pub was even transformed into a used bookshop in one of the Harry Potter movies.
9 Stoney St, London SE1 9AA
Although the Anchor is an excellent pub in its own right, perhaps its most striking feature is its setting, right on the bank of the Thames. The lovely views of the northern half of the city are most easily enjoyed in the summer, with an enormous outdoor seating area sure to be thronging with customers throughout the warmer months. It’s no surprise it styles itself as a ‘Shakespearean-era pub’, as it sits just along the river from the famous Globe Theatre. Mercifully the beer doesn’t suffer from the pub sitting on a former plague pit from the 17th century.
34 Park St, Southwark, London SE1 9EF
Sitting beneath the railway arches, you can enjoy a pint in Brew Wharf while listening to the low rumble of trains overhead. The lovely brickwork extends out into the various areas of this huge pub, which includes a large ‘Brew Hall’, where your beer can be complemented by cuisine based on the long traditions of brassieres and brew houses of Northern Europe. The beers are the star of the show of course, with many from the ever-excellent Meantime Brewery in Greenwich, and in the summer months the Brew Wharf’s large patio area is frequently filled to the brim with merry drinkers. Brew Wharf is part of the Vinopolis brand, and sits next door to the famous winery of that name.
Stoney St, Southwark, London SE1 9AD
It’s clear the moment you step into the Barrowboy & Banker that it did indeed used to be a bank – its wide interior and high ceiling bring to mind the financial transactions of London businesses over the years. Many of the bank’s customers may have worked in nearby Borough Market, where the barrow boys used to cart their fruit and veg around. The pub today is run by the Fullers brewery, which offers classic British ales such as London Pride, Chiswick Bitter and the inestimable London Porter.
8 Borough High St, London SE1 9QQ
Although pubs that can boast Charles Dickens as a former patron are no rarity in London, The George has the added kudos of being mentioned in one of the literary legend’s novels, ‘Little Dorrit’. It is London’s last surviving coaching inn and is dripping with history, having been helping Londoners raise their elbows for over 300 years. Its large courtyard offers a wonderfully relaxed summer drinking experience, away from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding area. Its interior includes two meeting areas, where you can sit and imagine the deals that have been made here over three centuries – or of course make some deals of your own.
75-77 Borough High St, London SE1 1NH