Despite all the unusually sunny weather we’ve been having, autumn is now very much upon us – so when we met for the Southbank pub walk at six o’clock it was already dark. Both the London Eye and Southbank look their best at night, I think – the walk over from Waterloo station is lit by blue fairy lights that mark the approach to the Eye and the river bank.
We took a spin round the Eye, giving us a gorgeous view of the city at night, and then the walking tour commenced. Our guide took us the length of Southbank, from the Eye down through London Bridge, and brought us all up to speed on the history of the area, as well as any historically juicy gossip. We stopped at the Royal Festival Hall, British Film Institute and at the Globe Theatre for a chat about Shakespeare, stopping along the way for a quick drink at the Founders Arms. Situated right on the river bank, this was a perfect stopping point to make the most of the view.
Moving on, we wound our way through the cobbled alleys and streets of London Bridge, taking in the infamously tasty Borough Market and the still slightly spooky Clink prison on the way. The tour ended on a slightly sobering note with a stop at the Crossbones Graveyard. This was once a working graveyard for working women; prostitution was illegal inside the City of London, but in this neighbourhood prostitution was licensed, and taxed, by the Church. Despite taxing the trade of these women, they were not allowed to be buried in holy ground – and so this little necropolis came into use, euphemistically entitled the Single Women’s Graveyard.
The tour officially ended here, but many split into groups and went on to explore pubs in the area.