The Angel, Rotherhithe


A Sam Smith’s house, formerly Courage, of small richly painted and panelled rooms, nooks and crannies, cast iron fireplaces and historic photographs that decorate the walls. There is little of the ostentatious about this understated pub that has sought to preserve its heritage, it does not need it!

There are three panelled rooms at the front; the Public Bar, Saloon Bar and a Private Bar have a unique Victorian symmetry. That Private Bar allowed both men and women to drink together, for a small surcharge, and no doubt kept the clientele apart from the locals who worked on the quayside.

The small room at the back, that was once the kitchen, now plays host to four tables and chairs with one window that overlooks the river and another that frames up stream looking towards Tower Bridge and St Pauls with the admonition ‘WINDOW KEEP CLOSED AT HIGH TIDE’.

The photographs mostly relate to pre-second world war scenes of terraced houses streets and wharves, the black and white creates the impact to give a sense of life in Rotherhithe and add to the historical interest.

Upstairs is a lounge, carpeted and wallpapered with comfy chairs and settees to look out over the Thames, towards Execution Dock and Wapping Old Steps. Behind are prints from Wylie and Whistler, who completed his own etching of Rotherhithe in 1860 from this balcony looking similarly toward the City. No doubt they and Turner drank downstairs in the Private Bar if they ever entered the doors of The Angel.

There is a choice of a wide range of Sam’s most popular offerings but not one on hand pump!

Food is pub food from sandwiches to pies, burgers and mains that include liver and onions which would be perhaps a little heavy for a summer’s walk.

On my Monday, walking from Westminster Abbey to Greenwich on 1066 Harold’s Way along the Thames path, it had the feel of a good local’s pub but I am assured, by one of those locals, that weekends are busy with walkers.

My half (there was still some miles to walk before Greenwich) of Old Brewery bitter was fine and the service good on this empty lunchtime but tellingly, The Angel is not listed in CAMRA’s WhatPub – but it is still worth a visit.

7th August 2017


A Last Few Goodbyes


Rotherhithe, July 1620

Men women and children clamouring excitedly waiting to board ship, their usual demeanour forgotten in the face of persecution and the opportunity for a new beginning.

What few possessions they owned were already loaded and as the tide rose, the ship creaked and rocked in the water and a few goodbyes were made as the last of the 65 passengers boarded.

Rotherhithe was the Mayflower’s home port and she had been carrying wine from the continent but, curiously and unusual for a ship trading to London, there was no record of any voyages of Captain Jones’s Mayflower from 1616. Such a ship would not usually disappear from the records for such a long time and one wonders what cargo she had been running but in any event, Captain Jones found time to take these Pilgrims to the New World.

Other ships lined the wharves, loading and unloading cargo and the noise of men and carts and horses, oaths shouted, orders given and the smell of the Thames would almost be the last that these people would remember of their capital, although they would have a final stop at Plymouth before fleeing England.

Next to where the Mayflower lay was The Shippe, a beer house, ignored by the Brethren for they did not drink, but much enjoyed by sailors and traders. Deals were done in the small dark candlelit rooms, buying and selling who knows what in this remote wharf, downstream from London Bridge and the city. Beyond the few houses that made up Rotherhithe were streams and marshes that drained into the great river and it would not be until the end of the century that great man-made docks would begin to be built that would transform the riverside.

Eventually, after being rebuilt in the 18th and 20th centuries and renamed The Mayflower, the pub remains a lure for regulars and visitors and for walkers along the Thames Path and 1066 Harold’s Way.

Image result for mayflower pub images 

There are still small rooms, wooden floors and tables were the day’s events can be readily discussed but now the sunlight streams through the windows and those dark days can only be imagined.

Walk 1066 Harold’s Way to one of London’s great pubs and share in its history.




Walkers Rest


Walk 1 The Mayflower

Memories of The Mayflower, Rotherhithe

It was a cold but bright January day and, away from the army of tourists and the shoppers, desperate to catch the final sales, it was perfect for a walk to Greenwich.

The Thames was grey, rippled from the wake of the Thames Clippers as we walked first along the Embankment and then the South Bank past Tower Bridge through Bermondsey.

At Rotherhithe, halfway to Greenwich, it was the perfect time for a perfect pint, the sun streaming through the window.

It was just for a little while as there were still four miles to walk before ‘The Cutty Sark’, the ship not the pub, and the end of Walk 1.

Celebrate the 950th Anniversary of The Battle of Hastings, 1066

Walk 1066 Harold’s Way

Westminster to Greenwich

The Walk in Pictures  1066 Harold’s Way, Walk 1

Statues and the Prospect of Whitby

Here, by the river in Rotherhithe, there is a sense of times past – there have been people living and working at the dock since Saxon times and I do feel that I am walking through history.

15 Sunbeam Weekly and the Pilgrim’s Pocket Rotherhithe 18 Prospect of Whitby 

The Brunel Museum displays the historic Thames Tunnel. Cumberland Wharf (with its sculpture ‘Sunbeam Weekly and the Pilgrim’s Pocket’) leads to the entrance to Surrey Water and its red rolling lift bridge installed in the 1950s. Follow the Thames Path signs past the Old Salt Quay PH, with just under 4 miles to go.

17 Thames Path PHOT0019.JPG

Westminster Abbey to Greenwich

A taster for 1066 Harold’s Way, from the start of the walk, Walk 1 at Westminster Abbey to the finish at Greenwich and a photo album to share the sights of walks to come or reflect on memories at the start of 1066 Harold’s Way.

It is early October in London. Imagine the noise, the smells, the people and the army. Was it wet or was it dry, sunny or cloudy or was an autumnal chill rising from the nearby river? Imagine King Harold, flushed with success from victory in September at Stamford Bridge and ready to face a new challenge against Duke William of Normandy. Harold’s army had already marched over 600 miles, to York and back, and Harold now needed to take his weary troops south to fight yet another battle to save Saxon England – the Battle of Hastings, 14th October 1066.

I love the smell of London and the sights and sounds of a fresh new morning and I still feel a guilt that I should really be at work. The luxury of a coffee and a Danish at a pavement cafe and whilst others rush, I can think about the day ahead and the miles to walk to Greenwich and on to Battle. It will be a pilgrimage rather than a race, unlike Harold.

First London Bridge, then below Tower Bridge there are the remnants of the once great London Docks that stretched for miles along both sides of the river, St Katherine’s Dock, Limehouse Basin, Russia Dock, Greenland Dock and dominating the skyline – Canary Wharf. Now there are flats, development and re-development.

History is still preserved in The City, Rotherhithe, Deptford and Greenwich. Queenhithe was London’s dock even before William built the Tower and was there when Harold passed on his way. Across the river is Execution Dock where pirates, thieves and mutineers were hanged and the opium dens of the old Chinatown. There are famous pubs to while away the hours and wharves that launched the ships of Captain Cook, the Pilgrim Fathers, Nelson and Drake. Recreate the scenes painted by Turner and Canaletto and take time to stand and stare at a London of a different age.