The South Bank: A Story of Pubs, Prisons, Prostitutes & Shakespeare's Plays

Duration: 2h
Languages: English
Guru: Justin
Quality Verified Registered on March 08, 2023

Want something a little deeper than the London popular culture tours? I'm a former teacher, economist, analyst and a lover of history, books and ideas. If you just want to take photos to put on social media and don’t really like walking, then PLEASE BOOK A DIFFERENT TOUR!!! If you are intellectually curious and like to think, then let me take you through the streets of London, from the City (the old Roman town of Londinium), to Southwark on the south bank of the River Thames and then to Covent Garden, Soho, Covent Garden, Mayfair & St James’s (5 different walks in total). I'll explain how London came from being a European backwater in the 1500s to the largest city in the world in the 1800s. Today, London surpasses New York in diversity and has become a playground for the rich. From clean money to dirty money, I'll tell you the back story behind London's rise, not just the official version! The good, the bad and the ugly: you'll hear about it all.

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  • Free booking and cancellation
    Free payment tour, no set price, booking and cancellation are free
  • Accepts electronic payment
    This tour allows payment by electronic means or credit card

Tour description

The South Bank: A Story of Pubs, Prisons, Prostitutes and Shakespeare's Plays

Welcome, I'm Justin. But some friendly advice! If you just want to take pretty pictures to put on social media (and don't really like walking much), I am the wrong tour guide for you! My tours attract people who like ideas, history and books. If that is not what interests you, book another tour :)

I have 4 walking tours on GuruWalk: 1) The City (Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon pm), 2) Soho (Sun/Mon am) 3) Covent Garden (Fri am) and 4) the South Bank (Sat am), which together have a total of around 500 reviews averaging 5 stars (the highest on GuruWalk).

My South Bank tour is especially liked by those interested in history and literature

The South Bank of the Thames at Southwark is one of the oldest parts of London. The wealthy and powerful traditionally lived and worked north of the Thames in the "City of London" and pushed the theatre, entertainers and lower classes across London Bridge into Southwark.

The area is fascinating and associated with the birth of English theatre. It is also the oldest part of London south of the river. Apart from Southwark Cathedral, it does not have big, impressive buildings like Westminster but it has so many different stories to tell!

Highlights of the tour include: 

  • The George Inn: Ancient galleried pub reputed to have staged Shakespeare's plays
  • Crossbones Graveyard: Home to 15,000 bodies of paupers and prostitutes
  • Borough Market: London's foodie mecca
  • Southwark Cathedral: Rich in American associations, from the founder of Harvard University to a governor of England's first successful colony in North America, Virginia
  • The Clink Prison: Used to imprison religious dissenters, the forerunners of America's Pilgrim Fathers
  • The Golden Hind: The ship that opened the door to the English colonisation of America
  • The Globe Theatre: Plays were popular entertainment in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Shakespeare was not high culture, but a fun night out for the masses! 

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What will we visit on this tour?

  • Meeting point:
    19A Borough High St, London SE1 9SF, UK
    19A Borough High St, London SE1 9SF, UK
    View on map

    I will be in front of London Bridge Post Office on Borough High Street (5 minutes walk from London Bridge Station on the Jubilee & Northern Lines) wearing a hat and carrying a yellow umbrella.

  • 1
    Outside visit
    The George Inn
  • 2
    Outside visit
    Borough Market
  • 3
    Outside visit
    Southwark Cathedral
  • 4
    Outside visit
    The Golden Hinde
  • 5
    Outside visit
    Shakespeare's Globe

How much does this tour cost?

Free tours do not have a set price, instead, each person gives the guru at the end of the tour the amount that he or she considers appropriate (these usually range from €10 to $50 depending on satisfaction with the tour).

Tour opinions

33 ratings
By category
5 stars
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1 star
Iddo 29 Nov 2023

Verified booking
Travelled in couple - Nov 2023
The way Justin told his historically embedded stories about London was wonderful!
Guthemberg 18 Nov 2023

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Travelled in couple - Nov 2023
It was my second time in a tour with Justin, and I’m excited for the next one. He’s just amazing and very knowledgeable guy.
Maximilian 04 Nov 2023

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Travelled in couple - Nov 2023
Justin is a great guide and very knowledgeable. The tour revealed many unexpected facts about the area and good advise where to explore further on your own.
Fabio 28 Oct 2023

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Travelled alone - Oct 2023
Justin was capable of giving a great overview about the history of the neighbourhood, fulfilled by history and literature references, congratulations!
Daniela 23 Oct 2023

Verified booking
Travelled alone - Oct 2023
great tour!! justin did an amazing job at explaining such a vast history in a clear and easy way. Loved this tour. 100% recommend
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Who is this tour for?

Non suitable for people with reduced mobility.
Does not accept large group reservations.
Not suitable for pets.

What should you know?

Minimum of attendees
A minimum of 5 people is required for the tour.
Additional costs:
The tour does not require the payment of entrance fees or additional expenses.
Free cancellation
If you will not be able to attend the tour, please cancel your booking, otherwise the guide will be waiting for you.
Payment methods
Electronic or credit card payment is accepted.
When do you want to go?
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