IN MY TOP FIVE
117 Rotherhithe Street, SE16 4NF
Nearest Tube: Bermondsey
The Mayflower is yet another of those black-beamed, flower-festooned, olde worlde pubs by the Thames that are almost impossible for the passer-by to resist.
EST: 1550. Monarch: Edward VI
What visitor from the US would not be fascinated by a London pub that boasts links to the first Pilgrim Fathers vessel?
The Mayflower actually stands on the site of a different pub – The Shippe – which was built around 1550 and stood close to where the Mayflower was later fitted out for its epic journey. Around 65 passengers were picked up from Rotherhithe in July 1620 before the Mayflower set sail for the New World via Plymouth.
The pub that replaced The Shippe – the Spread Eagle and Crown – was apparently a great favourite with seafarers. In the 1800s it gained a licence to sell postage stamps, presumably so that sailors could write home while downing a pint in comfortable surroundings. In fact the Mayflower remains the only pub in Britain to this day where you can buy US and UK postage stamps.
It was only named The Mayflower in 1957, presumably by some enterprising landlord who thought he could make a bob or two from the American tourist trade. And perhaps there was good reason for this renaming: the pub is said to comprise some of the original ship’s timbers in its structure. Pub visitors today with proof of a family connection to the original Pilgrim Fathers are invited to sign their names in the Mayflower Descendants Book, which is held behind the bar.
The wonderfully cosy 17th century Mayflower is dark and atmospheric with wooden pews, an open fire and a deck overlooking the Thames. There are private booths as well as large tables made for sharing and making friends with other drinkers.
The other stuff
Reasonably-priced pub staples such as pies, bangers and fish and chips are all on offer and can be washed down with a range of well-kept ales.
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