Southwark is the area immediately south of London Bridge, opposite the City of London.
Barge House Street is a renamed section of Upper Ground
Old Barge House Stairs once marked the outflow of a stream - though more an open sewer which ran in a wide loop.
walls were build along the river bank at Upper Ground
and sewers carried off water either to the river or south to St George’s Fields. Until 1809, when the Surrey and Kent Sewer Commission obtained permission to build new main sewers, the whole area was subject to flooding whenever there was an exceptionally high tide and most of the ground was too marshy for building.
However, from at least as early as the 14th century there was a fringe of houses along Upper Ground
Sometime before 1420 the land was farmed out to John, Duke of Bedford. In 1655, William Angell, a grocer from London, bought the area for £500. The land comprised ’ten messuages, eighty cottages, twenty tofts, twenty gardens, twenty orchards, ten acres of land, fifty acres of meadow, thirty acres of pasture and one acre of woodland’. A large part of the property was in lease to various tenants.
Angell carried out a certain amount of building in the neighbourhood of Upper Ground
and he laid out Angell Street (now Broadwall
) between the Old Barge House and Melancholy Walk (now Surrey Row
) along the line of Broadwall
The many warehouses that grew up in the nineteenth century hereabouts created a dense urban grain which was once commonplace along the southern shore of the Thames.
Oxo Tower Wharf
is a refurbished warehouse building - once both Stamford
Wharf and part of a former power station - still lying north of Barge House Street.
The Victorian 19th century Nelsons Wharf was demolished in the 1970s and its location was was landscaped into a park area – Bernie Spain Gardens.
Southwark is on a previously marshy area south of the River Thames. Recent excavation has revealed prehistoric activity including evidence of early ploughing, burial mounds and ritual activity. The area was originally a series of islands in the River Thames. This formed the best place to bridge the Thames and the area became an important part of Londinium owing its importance to its position as the endpoint of the Roman London Bridge
. Two Roman roads, Stane Street and Watling Street
, met at Southwark in what is now Borough High Street
At some point the Bridge fell or was pulled down. Southwark and the city seem to have become largely deserted during the Early Middle Ages. Archaeologically, evidence of settlement is replaced by a largely featureless soil called the Dark Earth which probably (although this is contested) represents an urban area abandoned.
Southwark appears to recover only during the time of King Alfred and his successors. Sometime in and around 886 AD the Bridge was rebuilt and the City and Southwark restored. Southwark was called ’Suddringa Geworc’ which means the ’defensive works of the men of Surrey’. It was probably fortified to defend the bridge and hence the re-emerging City of London to the north. This defensive role is highlighted by the use of the Bridge as a defense against King Swein, his son King Cnut and in 1066, against King William the Conqueror. He failed to force the Bridge during the Norman conquest of England, but Southwark was devastated.
Much of Southwark was originally owned by the church - the greatest reminder of monastic London is Southwark Cathedral, originally the priory of St Mary Overy.
During the Middle Ages, Southwark remained outside of the control of the City and was a haven for criminals and free traders, who would sell goods and conduct trades outside the regulation of the City Livery Companies. An important market - later to become known as the Borough Market
- was established there some time in the 13th century. The area was renowned for its inns, especially The Tabard, from which Chaucer’s pilgrims set off on their journey in The Canterbury Tales.
After many decades’ petitioning, in 1550, Southwark was incorporated into the City of London as ’The Ward of Bridge Without’. It became the entertainment district for London, and it was also the red-light area. In 1599, William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was built on the South Bank
in Southwark, though it burned down in 1613. A modern replica, also called the Globe, has been built near the original site. Southwark was also a favorite area for entertainment like bull and bear-baiting. There was also a famous fair in Southwark which took place near the Church of St. George the Martyr. William Hogarth depicted this fair in his engraving of Southwark Fair (1733).
In 1844 the railway reached Southwark with the opening of London Bridge
In 1861 the Great Fire of Southwark destroyed a large number of buildings between Tooley Street and the Thames, including those around Hays Wharf, where Hays Galleria
was later built, and blocks to the west almost as far as St Olave’s Church.
In 1899 Southwark was incorporated along with Newington and Walworth into the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark, and in 1965 this was incorporated with the Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell and Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey into the London Borough of Southwark.
Southwark tube station was opened on 20 November 1999 as part of the Jubilee Line Extension.
The original plan for the Extension did not include a station between those at Waterloo and London Bridge
; Southwark station was added after lobbying by the local council. Although it is close to Waterloo, not near the Bankside
attractions it was intended to serve, and its only rail interchange is to London Waterloo East mainline station; the passenger usage matches those of other minor central stations. It does however get over double the traffic of nearby Borough station and around triple Lambeth