Borough has long been an energetic area since old times, but it first became a vibrant business hub when the Romans established Londinium around 43 AD. Its location on the Thames and closeness to London Bridge has secured its reputation as a trading centre ever since.
Though these days, the area of Borough is largely associated with Borough Market, which supplies the area with its status as a foodie heaven. Typically, the finest eateries are in or really close to the market but, if you know where you’re heading, you can also find some truly special hidden gems along the way, too. The bars and pubs are spread out a little more than the food spots, but you’ll probably benefit from the walk after all that eating!
The beginnings of Borough Market date back to the 11th century, though its existing construction was established in the mid-1800s. Formerly it was situated near London Bridge, which was the only bridge that went over the Thames until the 18th century, in order to have a clear path to shipped goods. When London Bridge station opened in 1836, the market earned a horde of new patrons and the design of and around the market has continued to grow.
The market bloomed into a home of gourmet fast food and fresh produce at the start of the 2000s and has since become the go-to hot spot for every London food lover and tourist.
If you want caffeine to help you navigate Borough Market, coffee lovers across the capital love Monmouth Coffee. Hungry during the middle of the day? Lunchtime delights include a chorizo roll from Spanish proprietor Brindisa or hand-dived scallops and bacon from seafood shanty Shellseekers.
Borough Market is located near Borough and London Bridge stations, meaning that accessing it from our fabulous Park Grand London Hyde Park hotel is nice and painless!
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Other things to do in Borough
Stuffed? Don’t worry – there are plenty more amazing things to see and do rather than just eating and drinking in Borough. Culture lovers unite – whether you want to discover what the Victorians were wearing, or maybe you want to explore British wartime life, you’re certain to find something to intrigue you in one of the area’s numerous and diverse museums. Gems such as the Design Museum, Imperial War Museum, Fashion and Textile Museum and Old Operating Theatre are all within walking distance of each other. Fancy something a little darker? Check out the Clink prison museum.
Looking to escape the hustle and bustle with an exploration of nature? Then you may be surprised to know that you’re in luck in Borough. In fact, Southwark is one of London’s greenest areas, and it contains a whopping 130 parks and open green spaces. Southwark Park is the biggest and most famous, and it is home to a range of sporting amenities, a cafe, an art gallery, a boating lake as well as the gardens. The more modest Leathermarket Gardens in Bermondsey are named after the celebrated markets that were once live close by. The pond and the margins of the Red Cross Garden are intended to be both decorative and a wildlife environment.
The neighbourhood is also home to the greatest theatre in London outside of the famous West End. Shakespeare’s Globe, the Young Vic and Old Vic are arguably the most famous in the area, and for good reason. However, worth a particular mention is the Menier Chocolate Factory, thanks to its unique productions and eatery. For true film buffs, the BFI Southbank is within walking distance from Borough station, too.
Fun Borough facts
- Literary connection: The area has featured in a number of different works of literature throughout the decades. Chaucer named the long-departed Tabard Inn in his Canterbury Tales, and the church of St George the Martyr is profoundly associated with Dickens. In fact, the famous writer first arrived in Southwark aged 12, when his father was jailed at Marshalsea Prison for a debt that he owed to a baker. Dickens later memorialised many Southwark locations in his novels, and the whole area oozes with Dickensian charm.
- Unusual deaths in Borough Market: According to the Illustrated Police News of 22 February 1890, a dispute among two traders in the market ended in one “striking [the other] in the eye with the end of an umbrella”. Alfred How, also identified as ‘Flash Alf’, was fatally wounded in the strike by Edward Lamb, which happened after a lunchtime drinking session in Harrow public house.
- Censorship: Exceeding the scope of the City officials, in the 16th and 17th centuries the neighbourhood was a playground known for its inns, theatres and the infamous Southwark Fair which was shut down in 1762 after being deemed too debauched.
- Groundbreaking architecture: The area has become synonymous in recent years with one very iconic skyscraper. The Shard is the highest building in Western Europe, and its viewing platforms brought more than a million visitors in its first year of opening alone. Eyewatering indeed!
- Surprising architectural secrets: The artistic façade of restaurant Roast on Stoney Street is at odds with the industrial feel of the rest of the market. The arcade used to be part of the Floral Hall at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and was placed into storage when that was redeveloped in the 1990s.
- Borough as a film set: Do certain streets in Borough look familiar? You may well have spotted many spots throughout the area on the big screen. Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) and Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) all include scenes that were filmed around Borough Market. In fact, Borough is a key stop on a lot of popular film walking tours in London.