The Golden Hinde, a replica of the galleon in which Francis Drake sailed around the world
The ten Discover London Trails were developed by London’s Smaller Museums and Galleries Group with support from ALM London (Archives Libraries and Museums London). Covering different regions of the capital, they link smaller museums and galleries with other attractions of interest in half and full day trails.
Start at London Bridge – or the closer Borough Underground station – for the ten minute walk to the Southwark Local Studies Library for an excellent insight into the area. You walk past the historic George Inn, the last traditional coaching inn left in London before visiting the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garrett, displaying the horrors of surgery before anaesthesia and the history of herbal medicine.
The Old Operating Theatre
On Friday or Saturday, visit Borough Market for a fabulous choice of fine food.
After enjoying an authentic cup of leaf tea or coffee at the Bramah Museum of Tea and Coffee in Southwark Street, see the Golden Hinde, a replica of the galleon in which Sir Francis Drake sailed around the world in 1577-1580.
Courtesy of Bramah Tea and Coffee Museum
For gruesome prisoners’ tails, next stop is the Clink Prison Museum, in Clink Street before a lighter experience at Vinopolis, for a lightening tour through the history and geography of wine.
You pass the famous Anchor Inn, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and Exhibition and Tate Modern on your way to the Bankside Gallery, headquarters of the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers.
Richard Pikesley - Spring Tide, West Bay on show at Aqua Nova: RoyalWatercolour Society Autumn Exhibition on at the Bankside Gallery from October 8-31
The walk continues along the South Bank past the National Theatre and Royal Festival Hall. Between 1700 and 2000 Monday to Saturday, you can view Feliks Topolski’s Memoir of the Century underneath the railway viaduct on the downstream side of Hungerford Bridge.
Beyond Waterloo station is the fascinating Florence Nightingale Museum with its insight into the famous nurse’s career. Further along the road at the southern end of Lambeth Bridge, your final visit is at the Museum of Garden History, which houses a fine display of historic garden tools and garden related artefacts. You can then relax in the beautiful replica 17th-century knot garden.
Blair Gnome, from the People's Gnome Collection 2000 © Museum of Garden History
Trail in detail
Start at either Borough Underground station or London Bridge Station (ten minute walk) and visit Southwark Local Studies Library. It has an excellent range of historical documents and source material on the area as well as over 20,000 photographs and prints giving a vivid visual record of Southwark over the last 200 years.
Image from the Walk This Way project © Peter Durant / arcblue.com
In the same street as the library is the George Inn, the only example of a traditional coaching inn left in a style dating back to the Middle Ages. Mentioned by Dickens in Little Dorrit, it is the only pub owned by the National Trust. The pub offers a restaurant and tables in the courtyard outside perfect for a drink on a summer’s evening.
The Old Operating Theatre
Round the corner in St Thomas Street, The Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garrett is situated in a garret over the hospital church of the original St Thomas’ Hospital (1225–1865). This survived when nearly all of the other buildings were demolished in order to make way for the railway. Rediscovered and restored in the 1950s, displays demonstrate the horrors of surgery before the discovery of either anaesthetics or antiseptics.
Beneath the railway tracks on the west side of Borough High Street is Borough Market, a fine food market, with medieval origins, selling gourmet foods from Britain and Europe as well as quality fruit and vegetables it has generally been famous for.
Borough Market. Photo: Mickey Lee
It has a unique collection of ceramics, metalwork and graphic art associated with tea and coffee, illustrating their planning and trading, their social history and the many methods devoted to making these drinks. The museum’s founder and tea-master, Edward Bramagh, says of his museum: "We specialise in tours, talks and tea."
Borough Market. Photo: Ian Macaulay
You will see Southwark Cathedral – London’s oldest gothic church and a place of worship for over 1,000 years – on your way to the Golden Hinde, an exact replica of the type of square rigged galleon in which Sir Francis Drake sailed around the world from 1577-1580. Launched in 1973, it spent two decades circumnavigating the world before docking at St Mary Overie Dock and becoming an educational museum.
The Clink Prison Museum, tucked away in Clink Street, illustrates the history of the prison first opened here in the 12th century becoming known as the 'Clink' three centuries later, before finally closing in 1780. Successive Bishops of Winchester, who lived in the adjoining palace, owned the prison. Inmates’ tales are told with hands-on displays.
Torture chair Courtesy of the Clink Prison Museum
A little further on, located within fine Victorian railway arches, Vinopolis removes the mysteries of wine with a friendly down to earth approach. It studies the history of the grape and demonstrates the process of wine making, providing 'tasting stations' where you can savour a range of wines.
An incredible list of almost 1,000 wines can be purchased at Majestic wine warehouse and wine related gifts from glassware to accessories available at the Vinopolis shop.
Vinopolis - A wine tasting experience and much more... Courtesy of Vinopolis
After visiting Vinopolis and if still in the mood for a drink, enjoy the views at the Anchor, one of London’s most famous riverside pubs.
Continuing alongside the river you pass Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, an impressive reconstruction of the Elizabethan Theatre burnt down in 1613 and Tate Modern - one of the most successful and popular art galleries in the world - displaying the Tate collection of international modern art from 1900 to the present day.
Exhibit from Waitrose: Celebrating 100 Years of Packaging Design, on at the Bankside Gallery from September 25 to October 3.
Bankside Gallery is headquarters of the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers which broke away from the Royal Academy to raise the profile of certain art forms such as watercolour painting, engraving and etching. The Gallery offers constantly changing temporary displays of contemporary watercolours and original artists’ prints.
Walk past the National Theatre and Royal Festival Hall to discover Feliks Topolski’s Memoir of the Century curving through the railway viaduct arches on the downstream side of Hungerford Bridge.
The Memoir, six hundred feet in length painted on hardboard panels twenty feet high, took 15 years to paint. This unique mural is a visual record of the personalities and social and political events of the 20th century witnessed by the artist during his world travels.
Felix Topolski painting his Memoir of the Century © Topolski Estate
Past Waterloo Station, hidden near the entrance to the new St Thomas’ Hospital, the Florence Nightingale Museum gives a fascinating account of the famous nurse’s career.
Known as 'the lady of the lamp', Florence Nightingale nursed the wounded soldiers of the Crimea War (1853-6) and founded Britain’s first school of nursing at St Thomas’ Hospital in 1860. Her life and the developments pioneered in health care until her death in 1910 at the age of 90 are illustrated through displays of original documents and personal memorabilia.
The Florence Nightingale Museum
Further along the road at the southern end of Lambeth Bridge you will find The Museum of Garden History. Founded in 1977 as the world’s first museum dedicated to the history of gardens and gardening, it is situated in the restored church of St Mary-at-Lambeth and houses one of the finest public displays of garden tools and garden-related artefacts, ephemera and curiosities in the country.
In addition, a beautiful 17th-century knot garden filled with flowers and shrubs of the period has been created in the graveyard around the tombs of the famous 17th-century plant hunters - the John Tradescants, father and son, and Captain William Bligh of the Bounty.
Edwardian Pony boots c.1910 - used when ponies pulled lawnmowers to protect the grass from damage by their hooves © Museum of Garden History
Garden related items are available in the gift shop and refreshments in the café. Next door to this museum is the gate of Lambeth Palace (not open to the public), home of the Archbishop on Canterbury since the 13th century.
At the end of the trail, walk back to Waterloo station or take a bus across the bridge to Westminster.
The Discover London Trails were created by the Campaign for Museums and supported by ALM London.