In Focus – Borough High Street

Borough tube station, London

Guided by Ann

Walk Times

Day Walk Type Start Time End Time
5 April 2020 Tour du Jour 10.45 am 12.45 pm

Short read: Streets Ahead!

Long read: Borough High Street –  ‘a continued ale house with not a shop to be seen in-between’. Waiting in the hour-long queue to cross London Bridge in the C16, you would have been in need of a drink. And we’ll check out the yards and alleyways they gave their names to – Chaucer’s celebrated Tabard, the galleried George where you can go for a drink at the end of the walk. Hops and beer were big business for centuries – they were sold along the street, and locals took a hopping train from London Bridge for a holiday picking hops in Kent.

Touch the one remaining wall of the Marshalsea prison, where Dickens’ father spent time for debt.  You might have joined him if you were fluffed, flummoxed, or done on toast. In earlier times the prison was notorious for the rats, the filth, and the death rate for starving prisoners. The Borough was popular with body snatchers too – it was quite within the law to dig up a body, though it was an unpopular activity.

For centuries, everyone coming into the City from the south came up Borough High Street to London Bridge. You’re following in the footsteps of Henry V, Charles II, revolting peasants Jack Cade and Wat Tyler, and many millions of Londoners.

Background read: More trailblazing by the best urban walking tour guides on the planet. In Focus walks are an extremely detailed look – “what I love about London Walks is the degree of granularity you get” (as that American visitor memorably put it) – at the most famous streets and squares of London. And their tributaries. This In Focus walk explores Borough High Street, past and present. Start – “to see London you have to hear it” – with the name. Borough recalls the presence of a defensive “burgh” protecting London Bridge. And after the name, well, venerability. St. George the Martyr was built in the 12th century. (it’s of course “the Dickens – Little Dorrit – church”). Just as the Marshalsea prison – it was attacked in 1381 during the Peasants’ Revolt – is the Dickens prison. The boundary wall is still there. And as for Inns – there were 48 of them on or just off Borough High Street. We’ll concentrate on the Tabard of Canterbury Tales fame, the White Hart of Shakespeare and Dickens fame, and of course The George, the last remaining galleried coaching inn in London and still very much with us. There’s the Civil War fort. There’s mediaeval Borough Market. There are all kinds of little turnings off, capillaries, one of which still has centuries-old houses. There’s a world and more in the 300 yards or so of Borough High Street but that’s understandable given that it was the approach to London Bridge. The Borough High Street In-Focus walk has been created by and is curated (guided) by former BBC journalist and present star Blue Badge guide Ann.  


The Borough High Street In-Focus walk takes place at 10.45 am on Sunday, April 5. The meeting point is just outside the exit of Borough Tube Stop. The walk is guided by Ann.


“by far the most impressive series of walks that I have ever encountered are those offered by London Walks”  Travel and Enjoy

“Even jaded Londoners find these London Walks a source of astonishing gems of information about the city in which they live.” Daily Mail, Top London Treats


If you can’t make the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, public Borough High Street – the In-Focus walk do think about booking one as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Borough High Street In-Focus Walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We’ll tailor it to your requirements. Ring Fiona or Noel or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at [email protected] and we’ll set it up and make it happen for you. A private London Walk – they’re good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group – makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing.


A private London Walk makes a very special (and unusual) gift – be it a birthday or anniversary or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that’s special. Memories make us rich.


Don’t just take it from us.