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

N.B. this walk will not take place on the following dates:

21-04-2024

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

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THE GUIDING

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.”

LONDON WALKS PRIVATE WALKS

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.

GIVE THE GIFT OF LONDON WALKS

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.

LONDON WALKS – STREETS AHEAD!

Don’t just take it from us.

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27 reviews for Ahoy! Mayflower & the Ships of Rotherhithe

  1. Robert Hulse

    Oh, gosh – guilty as charged, Marilyn. Munificence is the word I’ve (ever so happily) got used to hearing from my walkers – commentary that’s more of a Glyndebourne Picnic than bits of pemmican on the trail. But I guess that’s what makes a horse race. In any case, your feedback is valuable. I’ll take it on board and tweak it ever so slightly – see if we can turn that “t” in “talk” to a “w” (as in “walk”), without losing too much of the Glyndebourne Picnic element. Other than that, nothing to add except a heartfelt apology that the tour didn’t get the job done for you and your companion. For the record, it gave every appearance of going down well with the other 16 people in the group. At walk’s end I received warm thanks from a lot of them and indeed many tips (including a very generous £20 one).

    I love it when a group is as diverse as sailor town Rotherhithe three hundred years ago – and that jolly bunch was. I mentioned the Jamestown ship at the end because we had Americans on board. I needed to take a family party to Rotherhithe Station, but hope you joined others in the wonderful Mayflower pub for refreshment.

  2. Pat Shearer

    If you want exercise this walk isn’t for you but if you want a fascinating insight into this part of London it certainly is. Robert was full of stories which he told with great humour.

  3. Marilyn Reeves

    Not a walk more of a talk! It went on and on and on. Thought it was never going to end. Too much standing still. I love history and done a number of these walks with this company but never felt like with this one – please let it stop and I wasn’t alone.

  4. Winifred Dine

    Great walk with Tim on Saturday. Many of our group knew the area well, some had even been born and grew up here, and yet still learned new and fascinating facts! Thank you Tim for a very enjoyable afternoon.

  5. Karen Hall

    Just brilliant. Mary Beth lives locally and gave us the inside track on this unusual walk. Rotherhithe and Bermondsey are fascinating river-side villages dripping in history. All worked well – met as arranged and the walk itself is easily manageable in the 2-hour slot. Didn’t know, nor had ever been to this unsung area of London and it’s a refreshing alternative to the ‘usual suspects’ of a day out in the capital. Highly recommended. Mary Beth was lovely, sharing her extensive knowledge in an engaging way. Thanks so much. Highly recommended.

  6. Dylan

    Fascinating tour. So much history and character. Tim tells a great story.
    South of the City is where the action is.
    What are you doing reading this…get down there!

  7. Jenny Lowing

    Thoroughly recommend this walk. We were fortunate to have Robert as our guide and he gave an extremely informative, interesting and entertaining commentary. As well as a lot of historical information we were also treated to many amusing anecdotes about the area.

  8. Sarah Ireland

    Tim was lovely, funny and incredibly knowledgeable about the area, living in the heart of the Rotherhithe himself. I do enjoy these walks and Tim’s was one of the best. Thank you!

  9. Catherine Randall

    Fascinating walk around a part of London we had never visited before despite living in and around London for years. The centre of Rotherhithe really feels like a quiet village – can’t believe it’s so close to the City. It was a privilege to be guided by Tim who is clearly well known in the area, extremely knowledgeable, and very good at conveying that knowledge in an interesting and entertaining way. We learned so much – it’s a great area. We will definitely be back.

  10. Peter Dargue

    I met Tim for the Saturday afternoon walk around Rotherhithe on the 9th of July. It turned out I was the only one who turned up and therefore had a personal tour around this underrated and fascinating area of London. Tim was a charming and knowledgeable guide who is fortunate enough to live locally. I really enjoyed the walk thanks to Tim and was left as always wanting to learn more about the various historical figures and buildings he described. These walks are fast becoming part of my London day out menu as they are such good value and stimulate the mind much more than my previous aimless West End wanderings.

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