St Mary the Virgin Rotherhithe

St Mary the Virgin Rotherhithe

This circular walk is made possible by crossing the Thames at Rotherhithe using the Hilton Thames Clipper. The walk is approximately 6 miles and takes you thorough some interesting parts of London both north and south of the river. You will also pass some good looking pubs many of them historical. The starting point is City Pier close to Hay’s Wharf on the south bank. Take the Thames Path in an easterly direction. You will pass HMS Belfast, County Hall, Tower Bridge, Butler’s Wharf and The Design Museum. Once past Butler’s Wharf you will notice that you leave the tourists behind.

A wooden foot bridge will take you across the Shad Thames. Due to construction work at Chambers Wharf the Thames Path sign disappears at the corner of East St and Chambers St turn left and continue in an eastern direction. The first pub you come across is Old Justice. This pub was used as a location for the Paul McCartney songs Give my regards to Broad Street and No more lonely nights. It is now a Korean Restaurant. Adjacent to the pub is an old pumping station.

A little further on you will come to the remains of Edward lll manor house built in1361 and excavated in 1985. Opposite is the Angel pub which is reported to be the oldest public house in Rotherhithe. There has been an inn on this spot since the 15th century although the current building dates back to the 19th century. It is reported that the Captain of the Mayflower hired his crew here. Continue past the pub along Bermondsey Wall east following the Thames Path. You will come to St Mary the Virgin Church Rotherhithe. There has been a church on this site since the 12th century and the current church was completed in 1716.

It is from this area that the Mayflower took the Pilgrim Fathers to North America in 1620.
There is a memorial to Prince Lee Boo of Palau who came to England in 1784. He lived with a Captain Wilson in Rotherhithe. He died of smallpox and was buried in the church. If the church is open it is worth looking at the table in the Lady Chapel and two bishop’s chairs that are made from the salvaged timber of HMS Temeraire. The ships salvage was captured in the painting by Turner The Fighting Temeraire. Across from the church you will see St Mary’s Free School founded in the 1600s by Peter Hills and Robert Bell two seafarers. There are figures of a boy and girl in uniform from the 18th century. It is thought to be the oldest elementary school in London.

Opposite the church you will see a Grade 11 listed granary which is now the Rotherhithe Picture Research Library. Close by is the Mayflower pub which also claims to be the oldest public house on the River Thames. There is a milestone on the front of the pub indicating that London Bridge is 2 miles from this spot. Further along Rotherhithe Street on the right you will come across Brunel Museum.There is in the old engine house of the historic Thames Tunnel. There is a £3 entry charge.

Limehouse

Limehouse

Continue following the Thames Path eastwards which will take you through residential areas. Just before you reach the Hilton Hotel you will come across Lavender Pump House and park. Originally built in 1929 it is now an Educational Museum and Heritage Centre.
At this point the Thames Path way can be confusing. Enter the hotel through the reception and on the left hand side you will see the tunnel way that will take you down to the pier.

The Grapes

The Grapes

The ferry over to Canary Wharf runs frequently and costs £3.50 one way. Cross over and take the Thames Pathway going west towards the city. The path will soon take you into Limehouse and Narrow Street. The historic street has Georgian Housing and The Grapes public house. The leaseholder is actor Sir Ian McKellan. At this point you will notice that residents on the north bank are far more fitness conscious and you need to duck and dive to avoid the joggers. Continue along the Thames Path which will lead you down some steps at The Narrow Pub. This is a Gordon Ramsay gastro-pub and you can find a review on this blog.

St Paul's Church Shadwell

St Paul’s Church Shadwell


When I did this walk gates at Atlantic Wharf that should be open to give access to the Thames Pathway were closed. I walked further on and entered King Edward Vll Memorial Park. The park was opened on 24th June 1922 by King George V. There is a memorial to Edward Vll at the top of a flight of steps leading to the main area of the park. In the near distance facing west you will see the steeple of St Paul’s Church Shadwell.

St Paul’s Shadwell is also know as the Church of the Sea Captains. Captain James Cook was a member of the church and there are over 70 sea captains buried in the grave yard. If you enter the grave yard there is a gate that will you down to the Shadwell Basin. Turn left and you will pick up the Thames Path at Wapping Wall which leads on to Wapping High Street. You will pass Wapping Hydraulic Project which is now an arts centre and restaurant. On the opposite side of the road is The Prospect of Whitby. It claims to be one of the oldest riverside pubs dating back 1520.

Prospect of Whitby

Prospect of Whitby


Further along the High Street is Captain Kidd which is in an old building but not an old pub. The Scottish pirate Captain Kidd was hanged 23rd May 1701 at Execution Dock Wapping. Just past the pub you will come across the Maritime Police which is one of the oldest river policing units founded in 1788. There is a third pub on the High Street, The Town of Ramsgate.

It is claimed that there has been a pub on this site since 1460s. In 1766 the pub became known as The Town of Ramsgate as a reference to the fishermen of that town that landed their catches at Wapping Old Stairs so as to avoid the river taxes payable further up river near Billingsgate. Opposite the pub is Scandrett Street and a short walk up this street is St John of Wapping School. Turn back to Wapping High Street.

On the High Street you will come across Wapping Pier Head which was once the main maritime entrance of the London Docks. There are some grand houses that would have originally been homes to wealthy merchants and customs officers. There is an attractive garden area but it is private property.

Hermitage Mooring

Hermitage Mooring

Further along the Thames Path you will come across Hermitage Riverside Memorial Garden which is not an outstanding or interesting green space other than it has a Memorial to the Civilians of London who were killed in the Second World War. On the river there is Hermitage Moorings which does have some very interesting heritage boats and barges. From here you enter St Katherine’s Dock which opened in 1828. It was one of the first docks to close in 1968. It is now a marina and leisure area. Cross the river at Tower Bridge and you have completed the circular walk.

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