What’s it all about?
In the heart of Southwark, minutes from London Bridge station and Tower Bridge, Borough embodies central London living at its best. The area gets its name from a time when it was the only borough outside the City of London. Beyond the jurisdiction of the City authorities, in the 16th and 17th centuries the area was a playground famed for its inns, theatres and the notorious Southwark Fair which was shut down in 1762 after being deemed too debauched. It retains enormous character in many of its buildings, streets and shops, and a great mix of cultural opportunities remain. There are famous theatres, you’re never more than a brisk walk away from wonderful pubs dating back to medieval times, and it’s home to Borough Market, the Tate Modern and Europe’s tallest building, The Shard. The added appeal of Borough to those living or working in the area is the proximity to London Bridge and Waterloo. The area has a diverse population, with a large creative community, City workers and long time residents all coexisting, attracted by the wide range of properties available. Borough thrives as a riverside location that mixes tourist attractions, dramatic new architecture and quaint cobbled streets, and that can lay claim to being one of the city’s most exciting places to live.
- The Shard is the tallest building in Europe, and its viewing platforms attracted more than a million visitors in its first year of opening.
- Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) include scenes filmed around Borough Market.
- Charles Dickens arrived in Southwark aged 12, when his father was imprisoned at Marshalsea Prison for a debt owed to a baker. The novelist later immortalised many Southwark locations in his novels.
Architecture and property
The origins of Borough Market date back to the 11th century, although its present structure was built in the mid 1800s. Originally it was located near London Bridge (the only bridge over the Thames until the 18th century) in order to have easy access to imported goods. When London Bridge station opened in 1836, the market gained a swathe of new customers and the architecture of and around the market has continued to develop. Now, Borough offers a mixed range of property, including period houses and converted flats, riverfront apartments, warehouse conversions and discreet new developments behind Borough Tube station. The area continues to increase in popularity as a place to live in the Capital thanks to excellent bus, train and Tube links to the West End, the City and Canary Wharf and a wide variety of homes catering to a range of budgets.
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Culture: The area is home to the best theatre in London outside the West End. Shakespeare’s Globe, the Young Vic and Old Vic all have deservedly excellent reputations, but worth a special mention is the Menier Chocolate Factory for its offbeat productions and restaurant. The Roxy Bar and Screen on Borough High Street offers an appealing alternative to the cinema chains – offering cosy independent film nights in its lounge, and film buffs’ favourite BFI Southbank is also within walking distance. The Jerwood Space is a gallery and rehearsal space that’s open daily and showcases new artists.
Eating and drinking: If you need a coffee to help you around Borough Market, caffeine junkies sing the praises of Monmouth Coffee, while lunchtime treats might include a chorizo roll from Spanish supplier Brindisa or hand dived scallops and bacon from seafood shack Shellseekers. Popular bars and restaurants cluster around the market, such as Roast Restaurant and The Market Porter, famous for their striking hanging baskets and crowds of punters soaking up the market atmosphere. For a fabulous panoramic view of London, head up The Shard to Hutong or Aqua Shard .
- Borough Market blossomed into a destination selling gourmet fast food and fresh produce at the beginning of the noughties, and is now the go to destination for every London foodie and tourist.
- Those looking for kitchen staples can make use of the revamped Tesco on Tooley Street or Sainsbury’s on Borough High Street.
- Residents with a sweet tooth head to Konditor & Cook on Stoney Street, which specialises in chocolate brownies and cakes. Would be sommeliers love Vinopolis and O.W. Loeb, a wine merchant dedicated to finding great producers of classic wines. For the hard stuff pop into The Whisky Exchange, which specialises in single malt whisky and stocks more than 1,500 different bottles. The experts at Neal’s Yard Dairy in Borough Market sell cheese from around 70 British and Irish cheesemakers.
- The biggest cinema screen in Britain is the BFI IMAX at Waterloo.
- Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Sports Centre has a range of outdoor facilities, including tennis and basketball courts, and offers lots of activities aimed at children and teenagers.
- Borough residents usually don’t find it necessary to have a car, but the nearby NCP London Bridge car park is useful if you do have to park in the area.
- Whether you want to find out what the Victorians were wearing or explore wartime life, you’re sure to find something to interest you in one of the area’s many museums: the Design Museum, Imperial War Museum, Fashion and Textile Museum and Old Operating Theatre are all within walking distance, while the dark side of 600 years of life at its rawest is remembered at the Clink prison museum.
Southwark is one of London’s greenest boroughs, with 130 parks and open spaces. Southwark Park is the biggest, and includes a range of sporting facilities, a cafe, an art gallery, a boating lake and gardens. The smaller Leathermarket Gardens in Bermondsey are named after the historic markets and tanneries that were once active nearby. The pond and the borders of the Red Cross Garden are designed to be both ornamental and a wildlife habitat.
Borough on the river
Home to the bustling market, Borough offers city dwellers a community lifestyle in the heart of London. If you go further down the cobbled streets, you’ll find an array of restaurants and pubs on the river’s edge, providing weary wanderers with a place to sit and enjoy the view. Alternately, you can visit Potter’s Field Park. Reopened in April 2007 after a major refurbishment, this peaceful haven is nestled on the south bank of the Thames between City Hall and Tower Bridge.
Find out more about the perks of living on the river here.
The area has seen massive development in recent years, and more housing – both affordable and in new luxury developments such as One Tower Bridge – is being created at a rapid rate.
Tube: Borough Tube station is on the Northern line in Zone 1. London Bridge and Elephant & Castle tube stations are nearby and offer access to the Bakerloo line, the Jubilee line and the Waterloo & City line.
Rail: Borough residents benefit from easy access to two of London’s major railway intersections, London Bridge and Waterloo.
Bus: It is possible to travel to almost every corner of London by bus from Borough. The 40 (to Dulwich), 35 (to Clapham or Shoreditch) and C10 (to Victoria) all run regular services throughout the day. Several night buses also pass through Borough.
Cycle: There are Boris bike docking stations on Southwark Street and Park Street.
River: Half hourly river boat services run to Canary Wharf and Greenwich from London Bridge pier.
The area is home to several primary schools including Charles Dickens Primary, which works with the Unicorn Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe. There are many choices at secondary level, both state and independent, including the London Nautical School, which is a specialist sports college, and a variety of faith schools.
Please see our schools tab for more information on schools in this area.
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