The South Bank: A Story of Pubs, Prisons, Prostitutes & Shakespeare's Plays (Some Adult Themes)

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, have little interest in history 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, 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.

Show more
  • 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, 2) Soho, 3) Covent Garden, and 4) the South Bank, which together have over 1,000 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! 

Show more

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

(105 ratings)
By category
5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star
Keith 17 Jun 2024

Verified booking
Travelled in group - Jun 2024
An excellent walk. It was both interesting and informative. An excellent guide, who was extremely good. Would recommend him and will be taking one of his tours next time we are in London.
Aleksandra 11 Jun 2024

Verified booking
Travelled in group - Jun 2024
The tour guide was amazing. He gave us some great insides into british history. The tour was fun, full of anecdotes and when we finished the route I instantly went to the nearest bookshop to buy recommended by Justin books. Really loved the experience.
Randy 10 Jun 2024

Verified booking
Travelled alone - Jun 2024
Extremely professional in all respects. Safety of the group was paramount. Possessed a great deal of knowledge of the area, past and present. I learned quite a bit. Thank you.
Alistair 08 Jun 2024

Verified booking
Travelled alone - Jun 2024
Brilliant walk, Justin linked some incredible and diverse sites together really well. Plenty of out of the way places you’d never find yourself.
Bonnie 07 Jun 2024

Verified booking
Travelled in couple - May 2024
Great tour! Very informative and fun
Show 105 reviews

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 4 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?
Show more
See availability