Ahoy! Mayflower & the Ships of Rotherhithe

(27 customer reviews)

Bermondsey tube station, London

Guided by Maribeth or Robert or Tim

Walk Times

Day Walk Type Start Time End Time
Friday Weekly 2.30 pm 4.30 pm Winter Summer Reserve Online
Saturday Weekly 2.30 pm 4.30 pm Winter Summer Reserve Online
Sunday Weekly 2.30 pm 4.30 pm Winter Summer Reserve Online
Thursday Weekly 2.30 pm 4.30 pm Winter Summer Reserve Online

Where is Rotherhithe Village in London?

A village in South East London with a community feeling. As one of our walkers said, “The centre of Rotherhithe Village  really feels like a quiet village – can’t believe it’s so close to the City of London.” Tower Bridge is just a short stroll away – a few minutes’ walk along the Thames Path.

Rotherhithe is London SE16 on the south bank of the River Thames, neighbouring Bermondsey and the Isle of Dogs. Over the water on the north bank, you’ll find Wapping and Limehouse. Rotherhithe is part of the Docklands area, but it’s distinctly different from those glittering business districts like Canary Wharf.

Rotherhithe School

A short history of Rotherhithe Village

Our guide Tim says, “The cobbled streets, pubs and warehouses of old Rotherhithe tell a unique story. For centuries the riverbank heaved with mighty sailing ships from all over the world and like every dockside there was vice and violence.”

Rotherhithe Village is defined by its history as a port. The working dockyards were operating from the Elizabethan era to the 1970s. In the 1980s the area began to transform – think warehouse conversions and new developments and the start of a revived Docklands area.

A lot of history happened before Rotherhithe Village got to where it is today. By way of example, Edward III built a palace in a wilderness of reed beds for his falcons in the 14th century. In the Victorian era, Charles Dickens frequented Rotherhithe’s dark and dangerous streets to see poverty up close. Smell and feel and hear it. Rotherhithe’s Old Mortuary figures in the first chapter of his last and (according to David) greatest novel, Our Mutual Friend.

The May Flower pub in Rotherhithe

The Mayflower: what is it and what’s it got to do with Rotherhithe?

In 1620 “The Mayflower” set sail from Rotherhithe Village and changed history. They crossed the Atlantic. They were The Pilgrim Fathers. They founded the Plymouth colony in Massachusetts. The ship’s captain Christopher Jones lies at peace, his memorial a stone keel at St Mary’s Church. The Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe Village is on the very bit of shore where where the Pilgrim Fathers boarded the Mayflower and cast anchor and set sail across the seas to America. The oldest pub on the river, it’s a rare delicacy. On the outside: time-honoured in the most inviting way; and it gets better, because inside, well, it looks and feels like an old ship; for good measure, it rejoices in unrivalled views across the liquid history that is the River Thames. Plus, it serves a cracking pint of ale. And serves up some of the best pub grub in London.

About our Rotherhithe Village Walk

With its cobbled streets and old pubs… Well, threading our way through ancient Rotherhithe Village we’re stepping back in history.

We salute those Pilgrim Fathers of 1620, along with the East India fleets, adventurers and settlers. We rub elbows with Dickens and the influence of social reformers. Let alone any number of other colourful characters who have trodden these paths.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll see – and see into (compliments of the stories we regale you with).

Yes, the legendary, the platonic ideal of an ancient riverside pub: The Mayflower.

Behind it on St Marychurch Street, Sands Films which has become a centre of excellence for feature films and the making of historical costumes.

We’ll meet “the difference makers” Alfred and Ada Salter.

And of course, hugely important: that astonishing engineering project, Brunel’s Thames Tunnel. Impossible to gainsay its importance. Not just to London but to modern cities everywhere. The tales of those who worked on it are jaw-dropping.

Then there’s the Thames Path. It runs for over 180 miles from source to sea. An important section of it goes through Rotherhithe. We take survey of it.

And it’s not just the blue of the water and the rich palette – the reds and browns and blacks and whites – of the wharves and docks and pubs and dwellings and the grey sabres of the London skyline in the near distance and whatever the London sky flaps above us on any given day… Wait for it (it’s worth waiting for), Rotherhithe, this ancient, Thames-moored, urban village, also does greenery. Spectacularly so. Consider Exhibit A: Southwark Park. And Exhibit B: Stave Hill Ecological Park. The verges, as it were, of the village.

Rotherhithe cloudscape


Practical tips for our Rotherhithe Village London Walk

Ahoy! The Mayflower Village takes place at 2:30 pm every ThursdayFriday, Saturday and Sunday. 
November 1 – April 30. To be on the safe side check the date on the calendar. Or heed the top-level announcements that read: Click for dates this walk does not take place.

Meet outside the exit of Bermondsey  underground station, Jamaica Road, London SE16. Bermondsey tube is on the Jubilee Line, with quick connections to London Bridge, Canada Water and Canary Wharf.

The team of Mayflower Village guides is headed up by Robert. Ably assisted by local superstar Tim, he of Four Weddings and a Funeral fame.

Robert is Mr Mayflower Village himself. He lives locally; he’s extremely well connected; he’s the distinguished retired Curator of the Brunel Museum; he’s a boon companion of the Landlord of The Mayflower, “the oldest pub on the river.”


If you can’t make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, Ahoy! Mayflower & the Ships of Rotherhithe it can always be booked as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Ahoy! Mayflower & the Ships of Rotherhithe 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 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 fab 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.


27 reviews for Ahoy! Mayflower & the Ships of Rotherhithe

  1. Naoise Soughley

    Our Rotherhithe tour with Maribeth was a revelation. She was such an open and thoughtful guide and as a Rotherhithe resident, she effortlessly brought this quaint, atmospheric part of the London to life for us, peopling it with privateers, social reformers, Dickensian graverobbers, charity children, more than one magnanimous sea captain and the redoubtable Mayflower pilgrims. Not to mention Brunel, England’s most famous engineer, on whom Maribeth is an expert. Her jaw dropping account of how the Thames tunnel was excavated and finally executed is absolutely fascinating, and on the tour she shows you the very spot where the diggers – many of who were Irish – descended into the bowels of the earth for their claustrophobic and daring endeavour. A wonderful afternoon that proved (yet again) that with the right guide, all you have to do is scratch beneath the surface of London to find historical gold!

  2. Vicki Saunderson

    I attended the walk, guided by Tim, on Saturday 16 December 2023. As a resident, Tim not only is extremely knowledgeable about the area, but has a real passion for it too, which comes through in all the information he imparts. I also loved his anecdotal stories, many of which I was completely unaware of. A really fascinating walk. Many thanks Tim!

  3. Tim Gifford

    After a fun walk in October I returned with five friends on 9th December for another wonderful walk with Tim who brought the history of the area to life and gave a fine demonstration of living in Rotherhithe at the current time. A very interesting walk with considerable history and anecdotes as well! Highly recommended.

  4. Karen

    We did this walk with Michael. He is very knowledgeable about the area and he made the walk interesting and fun.

  5. Janet Bounds

    Went on this walk as part of the Thames Festival. Loved it – learnt so much about the history of the local area. From the Antelope to the Mayflower via a good doctor, a brilliant engineer, pirates, a king and his falcons, a princess and her lover, Dixon of Dock Green and a Pacific Island prince. Fascinating stuff and highly recommended.

  6. Tim Gifford

    First class presentation by Tim who brought history to life with humour and, on occasion, song! A most enjoyable walk delving into the murky history and shenanigans of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe. Highly recommended!

  7. Anne-Marie Durand-Jargois

    I thoroughly enjoyed this walk with Robert as our guide. He is very knowledgeable and has a lot to share about the Thames and his neighbourhood. He also happens to have a good sense of humour and adapted very naturally to the size of the group as we were only three. I had never walked as far as Rotherhithe and the pub the Mayflower and after the walk you feel you have travelled much farther than you actually have. It was a great walk.

  8. A Pyman

    Two hours well spent, with lots of history and quirky stories. Not much distance to walk, which was fine with me. Recommended!

  9. Dianne Fletcher

    A beautiful sunny day and a pleasant stroll around the area with a delightful group of friendly people. However, the walk lasted just under 1.5 hours. Tim, our guide, did not mention the Rotherhithe Tunnel or Brunel. In fact, it was only after he left us at the Mayflower pub that we found the Brunel museum a few yards up the road. Unfortunately it was just closing as we had stopped for a drink in the Mayflower, not knowing that the museum was there. The area and some of the stories were interesting but the tour was a bit light on historical interest. I had been looking forward to hearing about the tunnel, and maybe more about the Tidesway sewage project too.

  10. Lynn Kolber


  11. Lynn Kolber

    The walk with Robert was delightful. Entertaining, informative and fun. Loved his fabulous presentation. I learnt a lot about the history of the area (and related literature). The leisurely pace suited the sunny weather, views and large group. Went home smiling! I would certainly do a walk with him again. Indeed, I’ll attend more walks – and hope that Robert’s leading them!

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