Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
addicted to popular art, turns the handle of an old gramophone from a little cart, decked
out with more Union Jacks, to which in December are added cardboard figures of Father
Without doubt, the best way to start a tour of Bermondsey is to approach it by way of
the Jamaica Road, plunging into Shad Thames behind Courage's Brewery at Horselydown
just beyond Tower Bridge. However, Bermondsey, which contains the one-time village of
Rotherhithe, adjoins Southwark, and from Tooley Street runs the old High Street of Ber-
mondsey, Bermondsey Street. This thoroughfare is worth a visit, in particular for the old
house I have drawn here. As can be seen in the drawing, it has an attractive oriel win-
dow and overhanging top storey of weatherboarding. This weatherboarded upper storey is
very similar to those of the weavers' houses in Fournier Street, Spitalfields. The names of
Grange Walk and Crucifix Lane in this area are a reminder of the extensive priory which
stood here in the Middle Ages. I have already mentioned the pretty toy Gothic front of
the parish church in the chapter on London Gothic. Bermondsey Street smells of spice, a
characteristic smell met along Shad Thames, but it has its own special odour - the vague
drifting smells of tanneries. In the last century, one of the lowliest ways of earning a living,
to which only the near destitute had recourse, was the supply of an article called 'Pure' to
the tanneries of Bermondsey. 'Pure' was nothing more than dogs' dung gathered in various
parts of London by 'Pure-finders'; this choice article of commerce was used in the process
of leather dressing, and was supplied to the tanners at a few pence per bucket.
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