Bermondsey: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 51°29′55″N 0°04′33″W / 51.4986°N 0.0757°W / 51.4986; -0.0757

Bermondsey mary magdalen 1.jpg
St Mary Magdalen Church, Bermondsey
Bermondsey is located in Greater London

 Bermondsey shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ335795
    - Charing Cross 2.5 mi (4.0 km)  WNW
London borough Southwark
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SE1, SE16
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament North Southwark and Bermondsey
London Assembly Lambeth and Southwark
List of places: UK • England • London

Bermondsey (pronounced /ˈbɜrməndzi/) is an area in London on the south bank of the river Thames, and is part of the London Borough of Southwark. To the west lies Southwark, to the east Rotherhithe, and to the south, Walworth.





Bermondsey may be understood to mean 'Beornmund's island'; but, while "Beornmund" represents an Old English personal name, identifying an individual once associated with the place, the element "-ey" represents Old English "eg", for "island", "piece of firm land in a fen", or simply a "place by a stream or river". Thus Bermondsey need not have been an island as such in the Anglo-Saxon period, and is as likely to have been a higher, drier spot in an otherwise marshy area.[1] Though Bermondsey's earliest written appearance is in the Domesday Book of 1086, it also appears in a source which, though surviving only in a copy written at Peterborough Abbey in the 12th century, reliably describes earlier events. This is a letter of Pope Constantine (708-715), in which he grants privileges to a monastery at Vermundesei, then in the hands of the abbot of Medeshamstede, as Peterborough was known at the time.[2]

Anglo-Saxon and Norman period

A Fête at Bermondsey by Joris Hoefnagel c. 1569, with the Tower of London in the distance.

Bermondsey appears in Domesday Book as Bermundesy and Bermundesye. It was then held by King William, though a small part was in the hands of Robert, Count of Mortain, the king's half brother, and younger brother of Odo of Bayeux, then earl of Kent. Its Domesday assets were recorded as including 13 hides, 'a new and handsome church', 5 ploughs, 20 acres (81,000 m2) of meadow, and woodland for 5 pigs. It rendered £15 in total. It also included interests in London, in respect of which 13 burgesses paid 44d (£0.18).[3]

The church mentioned in Domesday Book was presumably the nascent Bermondsey Abbey, which was founded as a Cluniac priory in 1082, and was dedicated to St Saviour. Monks from the abbey began the development of the area, cultivating the land and embanking the riverside. They turned an adjacent tidal inlet at the mouth of the River Neckinger into a dock, named St Saviour's Dock after their abbey. But Bermondsey then was little more than a high street ribbon (the modern Bermondsey Street), leading from the southern bank of the Thames, at Tooley Street, up to the abbey close.

The Knights Templar also owned land here and gave their names to one of the most distinctive streets in London, Shad Thames (a corruption of "St John at Thames"). Other ecclesiastical properties stood nearby at Tooley (a corruption of "St Olave's") Street, located in the Archbishop of Canterbury's manor of Southwark, where wealthy citizens and clerics had their houses, including the priors of Lewes and St Augustine's, Canterbury, and the abbot of Battle.

14th century

King Edward III built a manor house close to the Thames in Bermondsey in 1353. The excavated foundations are visible next to Bermondsey Wall East close to the Famous Angel public house.[4]

17th century

Former Alaska factory in Bermondsey

As it developed over the centuries, Bermondsey underwent some striking changes. After the Great Fire of London, it was settled by the well-to-do and took on the character of a garden suburb especially along the lines of Grange Road, as Bermondsey Street became more urbanised, and of Jamaica/ Lower Road. A pleasure garden was founded there in the 17th century, commemorated by the Cherry Garden Pier. Samuel Pepys visited "Jamaica House" at Cherry Gardens in 1664 and recorded in his diary that he had left it "singing finely".

Though not many buildings survive from this era, one notable exception is the church of St Mary Magdalen on Bermondsey Street, completed in 1690 (although a church has been recorded on this site from the 13th Century). This church came through both 19th-century redevelopment and The Blitz unscathed. It is not just an unusual survivor for Bermondsey; buildings of this era are relative rarities in Inner London in general.

18th century

In the 18th century, the discovery of a spring in the area led to Bermondsey becoming a spa leisure resort, as the area between Grange and Jamaica Roads called Spa Road commemorates. A new church was built for the growing population of the area, and named St John Horsleydown.

19th century

It was from the Bermondsey riverside that the painter J.M.W. Turner executed his famous painting of The Fighting "Temeraire" Tugged to her Last Berth to be Broken Up (1839), depicting the veteran warship being towed to Rotherhithe to be scrapped.

By the mid-19th century parts of Bermondsey, especially along the riverside had become a notorious slum - with the arrival of industrial plants, docks and immigrant housing. The area around St Saviour's Dock, known as Jacob's Island, was one of the worst in London. It was immortalised by Charles Dickens's novel Oliver Twist, in which the principal villain Bill Sikes meets a nasty end in the mud of 'Folly Ditch' - the scene of an attack by Spring Heeled Jack in 1845 - surrounding Jacob's Island. Dickens provides a vivid description of what it was like:

"... crazy wooden galleries common to the backs of half a dozen houses, with holes from which to look upon the slime beneath; windows, broken and patched, with poles thrust out, on which to dry the linen that is never there; rooms so small, so filthy, so confined, that the air would seem to be too tainted even for the dirt and squalor which they shelter; wooden chambers thrusting themselves out above the mud and threatening to fall into it - as some have done; dirt-besmeared walls and decaying foundations, every repulsive lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot, and garbage: all these ornament the banks of Jacob's Island."

Bermondsey Town Hall was built on Spa Road in 1881. The area was extensively redeveloped during the 19th century and early 20th century with the expansion of the river trade and the arrival of the railways. London's first passenger railway terminus was built by the London to Greenwich Railway in 1836 at London Bridge. The first section to be used was between the Spa Road Station and Deptford High Street. This local station had closed by 1915.

The industrial boom of the 19th century was an extension of Bermondsey's manufacturing role in earlier eras. As in the East End, industries that were deemed too noisome to be carried on within the narrow confines of the City of London had been located here - one such that came to dominate central Bermondsey, away from the riverfront, was the processing and trading of leather and hides. Many buildings from this era survive around Leathermarket Street including the huge Leather, Hide and Wool Exchange (now residential and small work spaces). Hepburn and Gale's tannery (disused as of early 2007) on Long Lane is also a substantial survivor of the leather trade.

20th century

Bermondsey Fashion and Textiles Museum (March 2007)

To the east of Tower Bridge, Bermondsey's 3½ miles of riverside were lined with warehouses and wharves, of which the best known is Butler's Wharf. They suffered severe damage in World War II bombing and became redundant in the 1960s following the collapse of the river trade. After standing derelict for some years, many of the wharves were redeveloped under the aegis of the London Docklands Development Corporation during the 1980s. They have now been converted into a mixture of residential and commercial accommodations and have become some of the most upmarket and expensive properties in London. In 1997, US President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair visited the area to dine at the Pont de la Tour restaurant at Butler's Wharf.

Bermondsey had been host to London's first railway, from Spa Road, as part of the London Bridge to Greenwich line, and the junction of lines from Croydon and Kent at South Bermondsey, the Brunel's Rotherhithe foot-tunnel was converted into part of the East London Railway with original connections from Liverpool Street Station via Whitechapel to New Cross and New Cross Gate. However, reorganisation of lines and closure of stations left Bermondsey's transport links with the rest of London poorer in the late Twentieth Century. This was remedied in 2000 with the opening of Bermondsey tube station on the London Underground's Jubilee Line Extension and the East London Line is to form part of the new London Overground system reopening direct links with the City and north London.

Local government

Bermondsey Antiques Market

The first 'Bermondsey' is that known as the location of an Anglo-Saxon monastery, and known from later charters to be the area around the post-Conquest Bermondsey Abbey and its manor, which was in turn part of the medieval parish. References in the Parliamentary Rolls describe it as "in Southwark".[[5]] A later, Victorian civil parish of Bermondsey did not include Rotherhithe or St Olave's; this was the arrangement under the Metropolis Management Act of 1855. The Southwark parishes of St Olave's and St John's Horsleydown (the latter a 'daughter' of the former) with St Thomas's formed a parish union ('District Board of Works') known as 'St Olave's' from that date. This was the arrangement within the London County from 1889. In 1899 St Olave and St Thomas's District was created as a single civil parish and the next year, following London government reorganisation, this was merged with Rotherhithe and part of Deptford to form, with Bermondsey civil parish, the Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey. This borough disappeared into the London Borough of Southwark, in the Greater London reorganisation of 1964.


Southwark London Borough Council has divided the borough into a number of community council areas. The wards of Grange, Riverside and South Bermondsey form the Bermondsey Community Council area.[6]

Bermondsey's parliamentary representation has fluctuated with its population. Since at least the 13th century, it had formed part of the Southwark constituency. From 1885 to 1918, a separate Bermondsey constituency existed, which included part of the older Southwark constituency. 1918 saw the seat split between two new constituencies: Rotherhithe and Bermondsey West, both of which were in place until the 1950 general election when the old Bermondsey seat was recreated.

In 1983, the area played host to the famous Bermondsey by-election in which Labour's Peter Tatchell lost the previously safe Labour seat to the Liberal Simon Hughes on a swing of 44%. Hughes has represented the area ever since, although parliamentary boundaries (and constituency names) have changed since then. At the 1983 general election (which took place several months after the by-election), a new Southwark and Bermondsey constituency was created, becoming North Southwark and Bermondsey in 1997, and in 2010 Bermondsey and Old Southwark.


Leather, Hide and Wool Exchange, Bermondsey (March 2007)

Places of interest

Nearest places


Nearest stations

See also


  1. ^ Ekwall, E., The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, 4th edn., Oxford University Press, 1960, pp. 39, 161 (for "eg").
  2. ^ See e.g. Stenton, F.M., 'Medeshamstede and its Colonies', in Stenton, D.M. (ed.), Preparatory to Anglo-Saxon England Being the Collected Papers of Frank Merry Stenton, Oxford University Press, 1970, and Blair, J., 'Frithuwold's kingdom and the origins of Surrey', in Bassett, S. (ed.), The Origins of Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms, Leicester University Press, 1989.
  3. ^ Williams, A. & Martin, G.H. (eds.), Domesday Book A Complete Translation, Penguin, 2002, pp. 72, 80.
  4. ^ Staff. The London Borough of Southwark English Heritage. (cached) "This page provides an overview of the Borough’s fascinating archaeology..."
  5. ^ en Bermondeshey en Southwark entry 1381- 82 referring to location of a tenement in Rotuli Parliamentorum III, 130: and in John Stow's Survey of London II, 142, 66-68 he describes St Mary Magdalen Church, Bermondsey as lying in the borough of Southwarke
  6. ^ "Welcome to your Bermondsey Community Council". Southwark London Borough Council. Retrieved 3 March 2010. 

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to London/Southwark-Lewisham article)

From Wikitravel

Deptford Market
Deptford Market

London/Southwark-Lewisham is a distict of inner south London.


Southwark was one of the earliest extensions of settlement in London beyond the walls of the Square Mile and across the river, beginning back in the Roman period and is traditionally referred to as "the Borough" in order to distinguish it from the "Square Mile" of the City. The eastern part of the district, downstream of Tower Bridge, is generally referred to (and marketed heavily) as "the Pool of London", referring to the old docks and wharves of the area that have been reconverted into housing and retail areas. The western riverside portions of the borough of Southwark are covered in the South Bank district.

The Crystal Palace was a huge steel and glass building designed by Joseph Paxton to house the Great Exhibition, Prince Albert's brainchild for bigging up the British Empire to the rest of the world. It was erected in Hyde Park and closed in 1851. Parliament closely voted not to retain it as a permament feature in Hyde Park and it was later transported to the top of Sydenham Hill. The surrounding area, still known to many locals as Upper Norwood, is now known as Crystal Palace. The palace itself burned down in 1936 in still unexplained circumstances.

Dulwich has a number of recognised sub-districts, which include North Dulwich, bordering Herne Hill, Dulwich Village, which includes the traditional village centre, and is the home to the Dulwich Picture Gallery as well as James Allen's Girls' School, Dulwich College and Dulwich Park and East Dulwich which bounds Peckham and has a number of independent shops, restaurants and bars along Lordship Lane.

Lewisham [1] is a largely residential borough of south inner London and includes some of the most run-down areas in the whole city.

Get in

Much of South London is poorly served by the tube network and this district is no exception away from the banks of the Thames. This makes use of overground rail services and the bus network especially important.

  • London Bridge is a main terminus for many south east suburban line rail services.
  • Crystal Palace is served by overland trains from two major London stations, Victoria and London Bridge. Direct trains also go south to West Croydon and Beckenham Junction. The tramline linking Beckenham Junction and Croydon is planned to be extended to Crystal Palace as a future development. If they happen then look forward to significant timelines into the 2010s.
  • North Dulwich and East Dulwich are both on the line from London Bridge to West Croydon.
  • West Dulwich is on the line from London Victoria to Orpington.
  • Lewisham is accessible via an overland train from London Bridge (10 mins) to New Cross, New Cross gate, Deptford, St Johns, Lewisham, Ladywell, Lee, Blackheath and Hither Green stations and by Docklands Light railway (DLR) from Bank and Docklands to Lewisham station (approx 25 minutes from Bank, 15 minutes from Canary Wharf).
  • 21 (Moorgate - Lewisham)
  • 47 (Shoreditch - Catford)
  • 75 (Lewisham - Croydon)
  • 136 (Peckham - Grove Park)
  • 180 (Lewisham - Belvedere)
  • 185 (Lewisham - Victoria)
  • 321 (New Cross Gate - Sidcup)
  • 436 (Paddington - Lewisham)

Crystal Palace is well served by many bus routes and is served by a main bus station. For those who like to party late into the night in Central London the night buses N2, N3, N63 and N137 all run to Crystal Palace.

  • Southwark (Jubileee line)
  • London Bridge (Northern line))
  • Borough (Northern line))
Crystal Palace Park
Crystal Palace Park
  • Crystal Palace Park, (Crystal Palace Park rail station is adjacent to the park), [2]. While the original Crystal Palace is no longer there, the 200 acre park is a lasting reminder of the grandeur of the scheme. There is a wide range of things to see and do, including a hedge maze, a sports centre with Olympic-sized pool, a boating lake, fishing, an athletics stadium and an open air concert bowl by a lake among other things. The park is a great place for a walk and also for cycling around. A significant attraction within the park is the Dinosaur Park. Large Victorian concrete and cast iron dinosaurs are scattered around widely. The dinosaurs, built by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins in the early 1850s to meet the emerging passion of wealthy Victorians for fossils and paleontology, were then unique. After falling into a state of disrepair in the 1980s and 1990s they were splendidly renovated using a Lottery grant in the early 2000s. The dinosaurs were designed by the Victorians on their idea of what one would look like  edit
  • The Horniman Museum, 100 London Rd, Forest Hill SE23 3PQ, +44 20 8699 1872, [3]. Daily 10.30AM-5.30PM. Is a fine museum with an aquarium, collection of stuffed animals, wonderful collection of world musical instruments, with interactive information. Free.  edit
  • Riverside developments. Developments of Shad Thames and Surrey Quays which contains numerous London Dock artifacts. Bermondsey St has undergone extensive redevelopment in the last seven years and it has been transformed into a highly desirable place to live and work.  edit
  • St. Paul's Church, Deptford High St SE8, +44 20 8692 7449 (), [4]. Built in 1720, it has been called A remarkable example of English Italianate Baroque.  edit
  • Sydenham Hill Wood, Sydenham Hill SE26 6ND (Forest Hill rail station), (), [5]. A remnant of the great hornbeam and oak woodland that once traversed South London. Run as a reserve by the London Wildlife Trust. Some splendid old trees and healthy bird and insect populations.  edit
  • Southwark Park, Gomm Road, SE16 (tube: Rotherhithe), [6]. A large, open and green park in an otherwise densely built part of London. Wide range of sporting facilities, a cafe, boating lake and an art gallery.  edit
The Brunel Museum
The Brunel Museum
  • Brunel Museum, Railway Avenue, Rotherhithe SE16 4LF (DLR station: Canada Water), +44 20 7231 3840 (), [7]. daily 10AM-5PM. A museum dedicated to the works of the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel including a major exhibition about the founding of the London tube system. Also a fine collection of Victorian induistrial paintings on show. Free.  edit
  • Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Rd, Dulwich Village, +44 20 8693 5254 (fax: +44 20 8299 8700), [8]. Tu-F 10AM-5PM, Sa Su and bank holiday M 11AM-5PM, closed M except bank holidays, Good Friday, New Year's Day and 24-26 Dec. One of London's lesser known treasures showcasing a magnificent collection of old masters, including works by Poussin, Claude, Rubens, Murillo, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Watteau, Gainsborough and many others. Originally assembled for the King of Poland in the 1790s, an alternative home was found for the collection of artworks in the "clean air of Dulwich" after the kingdom of Poland's partition and temporary disappearance as an independent state. The Gallery was designed by Sir John Soane and opened in 1817. A new extension recently completed by Rick Mather adds additional space to the compact gallery. DPG received the Museums and Heritage Award for Excellence in 2005 and was Winner of the Independent Award for Britain's Favourite Visitor Attraction. £4, senior citizens £3, unemployed, disabled, students and children free, additional charge for special exhibitions.  edit
  • Dulwich Festival, [9]. Local arts festival held annually in May.  edit
  • Sands Film Studios, 82 Saint Marychurch St, Rotherhithe SE16 4HZ, +44 20 7231 2209, [10]. This film production company runs an informal cinema club which shows seldom seen and rare films. The club aims to disseminate a better knowledge of the history of world cinema. Club screenings are usually at 9PM every Tuesday. Attendance is free but you do need to join the club (also free and easily done by email - check the website).  edit
  • Bermondsey Antiques Market (New Caledonian Market), Bermondsey Sq (at junction of Bermondsey St/Long Lane, tube: London Bridge), [11]. Fridays only 5AM-2PM. A very famous long-standing market wih attracts dealers from all over southern England every Friday morning. Antiques and collectibles from almost every imaginable genre. Used to be infamous for fencing stolen goods but that is no longer the case.  edit
  • Deptford Market, Deptford High St SE8 4AG. The old working-class area of Deptford still has a lively street market on Saturdays and Wednesdays. This is a real street market, it is neither trendy or touristy!  edit
  • Peter Layton and Associates (London Glass Blowing Gallery), 7 The Leathermarket, Weston St SE1 (tube: London Bridge), +44 20 7403 2800, [12]. A gallery, studio and shop which showcases contemporary glass pieces.  edit
  • Cafe East, 100 Redriff Road, Surrey Quays SE16 7LH (at the Surrey Quays shopping Centre). Wonderful Vietnamese food and if you like spicy authentic oriental food, this place is an amazing value.  edit
  • Island Fusion, 57B Westow Hill, Crystal Palace SE19 1TS, +44 20 8761 5544, [13]. Caribbean food.  edit
  • Los Toreros Tapas Bar, 35 Westow Street, Crystal Palace SE19 3RW, +44 20 8771 0087. Tapas and a wide selection of other Mediterranean food.  edit
  • Pizza Express, 94 The Village (Dulwich), +44 20 8693 9333. Local branch of the popular up-market pizza chain.  edit
  • A Torre, 19 Westow Street SE19 3RY, +44 20 8653 9895, [14]. Portuguese restaurant.  edit
  • The Yellow House, 126 Lower Road SE16 2UE (tube: Surrey Quays), +44 20 7231 8777 (), [15]. Informal Restaurant and bar serving modern pub type food and a range of wood-fired pizzas.  edit
  • Ministry of Sound, Gaunt St, [16]. World famous nightclub with a reputation for strong DJ's. It is mostly too commercial for real dance music fans these days but remains a quality venue.  edit
  • Old Salt Quay, 163 Rotherhithe Street SE16 5QU, +44 20 7394 7108. River-side pub with great views across the Thames.  edit
  • The White Hart, 96 Church Rd (Corner of Church Rd and Westow St), +44 20 8768 1001. M-Th noon-11PM, F Sa noon-midnight, Su noon-10:30PM. Really great pub with great mix of seating, specialist nights, interesting beers, great modern British pub food, and a nice outdoor area. Different nights including live music, quiz nights. Mixed crowd. Relaxed weekend day times, can get busy in the evenings. Decor is a mix of traditional, industrial/modern and quirky/shabby chic. Friendly staff. (533500,170457) edit
  • McMillan Student Village, Creek Rd, Deptford. Fantastic place for a good night's kip after a heavy night out.  edit
  • Hilton London Docklands Riverside, 265 Rotherhithe Street SE16 5HW, +44 20 72311001, [18]. Five star riverside hotel.  edit

Get out

Southwark makes a good starting point for explorations further along the river Thames, whether upstream or downstream. Upstream (to the west) leads to the vibrant and artsy South Bank district.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BERMONDSEY, a south-eastern metropolitan borough of London, England, bounded N. and E. by the Thames, S.E. by Deptford, S.W. by Camberwell, and W. by Southwark. Pop. (Igor) 130,760. It is a district of poor streets, inhabited by a labouring population employed in leather and other factories, and in the Surrey Commercial Docks and the wharves bordering the river. The parish of Rotherhithe or Redriff has long been associated with a seafaring population. A tunnel connecting it with the opposite shore of the river was opened in June 1908. The neighbouring Thames Tunnel was opened in 1843, but, as the tolls were insufficient to maintain it, was sold to the East London Railway Company in 1865. The Herold Institute, a branch of the Borough Polytechnic, Southwark, is devoted to instruction in connexion with the leather trade. Southwark Park in the centre of the borough is 63 acres in extent. Bermondsey is in the parliamentary borough of Southwark, including the whole of Rotherhithe and part of the Bermondsey division. The borough council consists of a mayor, 9 aldermen, and 54 councillors. Area 1499 6 acres.

The name appears in Domesday, the suffix designating -the former insular, marshy character of the district; while the prefix is generally taken to indicate the name of a Saxon overlord, Beormund. Bermondsey was in favour with the Norman kings as a place of residence, and there was a palace here, perhaps from pre-Norman times. A Cluniac monastery was founded in 1082, and Bermondsey Cross became a favoured place of pilgrimage. The foundation was erected into an abbey in 1399, and Abbey Road recalls its site. Similarly, Spa Road points to the existence of a popular spring and pleasure grounds, maintained for some years at the close of the 18th century. Jacob Street marks Jacob's Island, the scene of the death of Bill Sikes in Dickens's Oliver Twist. Tooley Street, leading east from Southwark by London Bridge railway station, is well known in connexion with the story of three tailors of Tooley Street, who addressed a petition to parliament opening with the comprehensive expression "We, the people of England." The name is a corruption of St Olave, or Olaf, the Christian king of Norway, who in 994 attacked London by way of the river, and broke down London Bridge.

See E. T. Clarke, Bermondsey, its Historic Memories (1901)

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