Great Pubs of London’s Undiscovered Historical Docklands
I’ve found myself in London not once, not twice, but FOUR times this year!
To be honest, every trip to London, especially this year, I leave thinking to myself ‘that’s it! I’ve done it! I’ve seen and done everything there is to do in London!’ And every time I return I realise what a silly thing to say that really is. There is SO much to do in London and I am always discovering new favourite neighbourhoods, parks and restaurants. This trip was no exception.
Due to the last-minute-ness of this latest trip (and also due to a SUPER low budget), Lewis and I opted to stay outside of our usual central London stomping grounds. We found a great deal for the Aloft London Excel hotel which is located WAAAY out (Zone 3, I’m being dramatic) in the Royal Victoria Docklands area— kind of near the O2 if you’re familiar with London.
Neither of us had ever been anywhere near the area. We’d gone to Greenwich on the DLR a few years ago but that’s about all. To be honest, we really loved it! The Docklands are being TOTALLY revamped. We were amazed by the amount of construction happening in literally every direction. There are about to be a whole lot of newly renovated housing in that neighborhood. We thought what better way to explore this area and learn about it’s (as it turns out) illustrious and fascinating history than go on a food tour!
On one rainy London morning we teamed up with Eating London for a mouthwateringly delicious tour of some of the Docklands best and most historic pubs. We met our two lovely guides, Nicole and Lee, along with the rest of our group (two other couples) and headed to our first stop: The Mayflower.
Aptly named because rumour has it that before the first pilgrims journeyed to America the Mayflower was docked just down the Thames in Rotherhithe. Captain Christopher Jones is said to have eaten at this very pub before he set off! This pub would be the perfect place for a game of Eye Spy — there are photos and memorabilia decorating every inch of the walls and ceiling.
At The Mayflower we sampled traditional British ‘bangers and mash’ (sausages and mashed potatoes) as well as black pudding.
The bangers and mash was DELICIOUS and I would 150% recommend seeking out this pub to eat this meal. I can promise you now it’ll be top on my restaurant list for my next trip to England. The black pudding was a first for me. It actually tastes ok but once you know what’s in it you may change your mind… it’s made with a great deal of animal blood which gives it it’s distinctive black color.
To accompany our delicious meal we sipped a local ale called Scurvy, named after the sickness that many passengers on the Mayflower got due to a lack of citrus and other nutrients found in the fresh produce that wasn’t available to them on their voyage.
Our next stop was The Prospect of Whitby.
I couldn’t resist taking about 25 photos of the beautiful outside of this pub even though it meant standing out in the rain. The Prospect Of Whitby in Wapping is London’s oldest riverside pub dating back to 1520. The pub’s original flagstone floor survives as well as a rare pewter-topped bar and old barrels and ships masts built into the structure. A favourite spot for those involved in life on the river and sea and it was also historically notorious haunt for smugglers, thieves and pirates. There’s even some, albeit strange, memorabilia of the colourful history of the place…
This pub had a beautiful outdoor seating area with spectacular river views that I would’ve loved to spend an afternoon at on a sunnier day.
Here we had one of my favourite England foods — fish and chips with ‘mushy peas.’ Mushy peas are deeeeelicious if you’ve never had them. Yeah, they look like baby food but mmm they are good.
Next we walked along to our third stop, Turner’s Old Star.
A traditional East End pub, Turner’s Old Star is named after artist Joseph Turner. The Old Star was a great local spot, we were greeted warmly by the owner’s themselves who treated us to a warm steak pie along with London’s favourite ale: London Pride.
Captain Kidd, our fourth stop, is an old coffee warehouse turned pub. It’s namesake, William Kidd, was a 17th century pirate. Here we sampled London’s ‘hairy snack’: pork crackling along with a local porter. I can’t say I was a big fan but it made for a great photo!
Lucky enough, our final stop was a pub that Lewis and I had discovered on our last trip to London but hadn’t had a chance to try— The Dickens Inn!
Located along St. Katharine’s docks Lewis and I had spotted this pub when we were staying by the Tower Bridge back in May. These stunning window boxes decorating the whole front of the pub were what had caught my eye. How pretty are they?!
At The Dickens Inn we were greeted with a cheese and fruit platter with some local English cheeses along with a traditional English cider.
That concluded our delicious route along London’s docklands. The tour lasted about 4 hours and was the perfect way to spend a drizzly day in the city!
I love food tours because I really do enjoy learning the history of the places I am visiting but at the same time, I am the kind of person that is ALWAYS thinking about food. I’ve been on a lot of great walking tours but inevitably at some point midway through the tour I start thinking about what my next snack is going to be. Food tours allow you to really get a unique understanding of a place’s genuine culture through indulging in local foods. In addition to that you also get the unique social experience that comes with having a meal with new people. Our group shared stories about our various and diverse travel experiences around the world.
Eating London also offers an East End Food Tour, Twilight Soho Food and Cocktail Tour, Brick Lane – Flavours of India & Beyond. Lewis and I had a fabulous experience on this tour and personally, I can’t wait to try the Brick Lane tour on my next trip to London!
Thank you Eating London and Nicole and Lee for an unforgettable introduction to London’s Docklands. I am so happy we had the experience to try something new in London! As always, all opinions are my own.