Southwark and Blackfriars in 50 Buildings
Series: In 50 Buildings
- Lucy McMurdo
15th July 2023
Situated on opposite sides of the Thames, the ancient districts of Southwark and Blackfriars have played a crucial role in London’s political, social and religious activities throughout the centuries. Today, thousands of visitors flock here to enjoy the many famous pubs, theatres, galleries and museums.
In this book, author Lucy McMurdo takes readers on an enjoyable and informative tour exploring the architectural heritage and treasures in these areas. Southwark was a key suburb of London from Roman times. Located outside the City walls and not subject to the City authorities, it became London’s prime entertainment zone and notorious for its four ‘P’s: pubs, prostitution, prisons and playhouses. Its riverbanks were lined with wharves, warehouses, factories and inns until the mid-twentieth century when London’s docks closed down. The area’s colourful history has not been forgotten, however. Many buildings remain and three literary giants, Shakespeare, Chaucer and Dickens, have great associations with Southwark.
Blackfriars takes its name from the community of black-robed Dominican monks that settled here in the thirteenth century. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries the priory land was reassigned and, in 1596, the entrepreneur James Burbage established Blackfriars Theatre. William Shakespeare and Burbage’s son, Robert, regularly appeared in plays here and Shakespeare purchased both a part share in the theatre and a house in nearby Ireland Yard. When Blackfriars Bridge opened in 1769, it not only immortalised the area’s name, but also connected the district to Southwark on the south bank of the Thames.
This accessible and engaging perspective is illustrated throughout and will appeal to residents and visitors alike.