Dr Salter’s Daydream

Dr Alfred Salter was a local doctor who, before the advent of the NHS, set up his own insurance scheme for poor patients in 1900. Later MP for West Bermondsey, his wife Ada was Britain's first woman Labour mayor. Diane Gorvin’s sculpture shows him in old age, waving to his daughter Joyce who died at age 8.

Bermondsey Wall East SE1

Swing Footbridge

Now not functional, you can see nearby the hydraulic mechanism that operated this bridge and the associated locks to allow shipping into the dock. It crosses the entrance to Greenland Dock, the oldest of London’s wet docks, once used by the whaling trade – hence the name – and later for timber.

Rope Street SE16

Rotherhithe is a Saxon name, meaning 'mariners' landing place' and docks have existed here since the 17th century. Heavily bombed during World War II, the docks never recovered their former importance and this historic area is struggling to rebuild a sense of community.
See an excellent blog on this area here.

Tube: Rotherhithe

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.


St Mary the Virgin

This Anglo-Catholic church dates to 1716 and its John Byfield organ was installed in 1764. Two bishop’s chairs and a communion table are made from the wood of ‘The Fighting Temeraire’, which Turner’s famous painting shows on her way to a Rotherhithe breakers in 1838.

St Marychurch Street SE16


Surrey Quays Farm

This working farm on the south bank of the River Thames has a herd of goats, sheep, cattle, donkeys and poultry. An orchard and herb garden as to the produce on sale and a café opens Wed-Sun. The sculptures of 18 farmyard animals are by five different artists.

South Wharf SE16

Tel: +44 (0)20 7231 1010


The Mayflower

Named (in 1957) for the ship which left here in 1620 with the Pilgrim Fathers bound for America. The Mayflower’s captain, Christopher Jones (right) is buried in the nearby St Mary’s Church (below). This is the only place in England licensed to sell American postage stamps.

17 Rotherhithe Street SE16
Tel: +44 (0)20 7237 4088

Captain Christopher Jones

This memorial to the master of the Mayflower – buried here in 1622 at the age of 55 – was sculpted in 1995 by Jamie Sargeant. A stylised figure of St Christopher looks back to the Old World while the child in his arms looks forward to its future in the New. The church tower also has a Blue Plaque.

St Mary the Virgin Churchyard
St Marychurch Street

St Mary Rotherhithe

This pair of Bluecoats stand above a plaque marking the school’s history: ‘Founded by Peter Hill and Robert Bell in 1613. Removed here 1797.’ Living to the age of 80, and married twice, Peter Hill gave £3 a year to the master to teach eight children, ‘sons of seafaring men'.

St Marychurch Street SE16
Tube: Rotherhithe

St Olav’s

This weathervane in the shape of a Viking longboat adorns a church built in 1927 to serve Norwegian sailors on whaling and timber ships at Surrey docks. The church was a focus of Norwegian resistance during WW II and is still a centre for those in London, with a shop selling goods from Norway.

Albion Street SE16

Finnish Church

Just near the Thames Rotherhithe tunnel, this starkly modern church is home to the Finnish community. Its typical Finish sauna is open from Tuesday to Sunday for communal sessions (separate times for men and women) or you can make a private booking.

33 Albion Street SE16
Tel. +44 (0)20 7237 4668

Cannon Bollards

Many bollards in London are shaped like cannons because old guns were actually once used for the purpose, their muzzles stopped with a cannon ball. These four, at the ornate gate to the former Royal Victoria Victualling Yards are some of the few originals standing, dating to the 18th century.

Grove Street SE8
Rail: Deptford

Bascule Bridge

This Scherzer rolling lift bridge, now no functional, has several companions around Rotherhithe. Most of London’s timber was once unloaded here at Surrey Docks – hence names such as Greenland and Odessa Docks. A massive timber fire during World War II bombing devastated the area.

Rotherhithe Street SE16

The Sunbeam Weekly and the Pilgrim’s Pocket

Peter McClean’s sculpture of 1991 shows a 17th century pilgrim. He is looking with astonishment at a newsboy reading a 1930s paper with the story of The Mayflower and the modern USA as a Staffordshire terrier begs for attention. In his pocket is a London A-Z, dated 1620.

Cumberland Wharf SE16