Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our London Neighborhood

After three trips to Ikea, we are finally feeling settled in our new place.  I'm so happy we found this apartment/flat.  It's such a wonderful little area of London.  I thought I'd share it with you via a photo walk.  

You'll arrive via Tube or Train to London Bridge Station which is South of the River.  Be sure to look up.  

That's the Shard, London's newest skyscraper.  It's the tallest building in Western Europe and will open next year with shops, restaurants, apartments and offices.  It's getting quite mixed reviews by Londoners.  What do you think?

Head East along the Thames and you'll pass the London Dungeon and plenty of shops and restaurants.  You'll pass Hay's Galleria, the HMS Belfast, The Scoop, City Hall and Potter's Field.   This is a wonderful area to spend a day in London.  

Eventually, you'll arrive at Tower Bridge.  

Tower Bridge took 8 years to construct and was opened in the late 1800's.  We're going to take a tour when my Mom is here, so I'll post more info in a future post.  It is a beautiful bridge and I can't get enough of it.  

Did you know that it opens to let large boats through?  

Continue East along the Thames and you'll arrive to an area called Shad Thames.  

This was once the largest industrial port along the Thames.  Food and spices were brought here from all over the world and offloaded to massive wharfs and warehouses.  It was called the Larder of London and it was said that if you walked along this area you could smell the world.  TE's dad was telling me that he remembers the area well, in particular one warehouse that was chock full of oranges. 


The narrow cobbled streets run between the warehouses.  Above you can see the ramps and catwalks that were once used to roll barrels of cargo between the buildings.  Now the lower levels are shops and restaurants and the upper floors have been converted to apartments.  

If you cut through one of the shops or walkways to your left, you will come out onto the Thames Path.  

The last warehouse was closed in the 1970's and in the 80's and 90's the area was revitalized and turned into a lovely residential area.   There are amazing restaurants and bars along Butler's Wharf with some anchors and chains scattered about for atmosphere. 

The steaks at the Butler's Wharf Chop House are wonderful, not to mention the views.  

Be sure to stop in at the Design Museum to see their most recent exhibit.  They also have a cafe and a quirky shop.  

This is the Head of Invention by Scottish sculptor, Paolozzi.  

“Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does Nature, because in her inventions, nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous.”  Leonardo Da Vinci

At the end of Butler's Wharf you reach St. Saviour's Dock, a place of pirates and executions.  This entire area of the Thames is known as the Pool of London and is the deepest part of the River. 

Did you know that London is full of underground rivers?  This is the where one of them, the Neckinger meets the Thames.  

The Thames is a tidal river, so twice a day the water rises up the sides of these converted warehouses.  

This pedestrian bridge was built to connect the Thames path between Shad Thames and Jacob's Island.  


So, this is where we live... Jacob's Island in Bermondsey.  

It was once described by Dickens as "the filthiest, the strangest, the most extraordinary of the many localities that are hidden in London."  Thankfully, it's changed a bit since then.  

Jacob's Island was once a London Rookery (slum) surrounded on all sides by water.  The man-made canals surrounded an area infamous for it's squalor.  It was called "The Very Capital of Cholera" by local paper in the mid 1800's. 

Charles Dickens visited the area for research and his story Oliver Twist is set in Jacob's Island. 

"... crazy wooden galleries common to the backs of half a dozen houses, with holes from which to look upon the slime beneath; windows, broken and patched, with poles thrust out, on which to dry the linen that is never there; rooms so small, so filthy, so confined, that the air would seem to be too tainted even for the dirt and squalor which they shelter; wooden chambers thrusting themselves out above the mud and threatening to fall into it - as some have done; dirt-besmeared walls and decaying foundations, every repulsive lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot, and garbage: all these ornament the banks of Jacob's Island."    Charles Dickens

The canals were filled in in the late 1800's and eventually the worst tenements were demolished in the mid 1900's.  The area was heavily bombed during WWII.  Now the area has been rebuilt with converted warehouses and modern residential buildings.  

Little Oliver Twist.  I'm ashamed to say I haven't read this classic.  Oliver! the musical version was on TV last weekend and I loved it.  I'm going to have to read it now. 

Just over Bermondsey Wall West, you will find a large community of House Boats on the Thames.  

And this is where we find our new home, Providence Square.  It's a modern complex with a large Japanese Garden as the centerpiece.  

I absolutely love the garden island and the pond that surrounds it.  I'm becoming a crazy bird lady.  Our balcony is over the pond, so I keep a container of oats on the balcony and feed the ducks and moorhens a hundred times a day.   The massive Koi fish eat anything that the birds miss.

They now come quacking and peeping outside the window if I neglect them.  


I could watch them all day.  This little one is Romeo.  (Yes, I've named some of them.  I gotta get a job.)

It's wonderful to have a little slice of nature right in the middle of London.  

These stairs lead to the parking garage in the basement where we can access our apartment which is up on the 2nd (actually the 3rd)  floor.  

From our balcony, you can just see one edge of Tower Bridge.  You can also see the Tower of London and "the Gherkin."   It's actually 30 St. Mary Axe or the Swiss Re Building.  It opened in 2004 and was nicknamed the gherkin, because it looks like a kind of like a pickle.  

We think it looks more like a Mont Blanc pen and I'm quite partial to it.  

So there you have it.  A little stroll to our new place.  I didn't think I would like any place as much as Notting Hill, but I'm so happy we ended up here.  It's terrific.  

We can't wait to have more visitors so we can share it with you in person.  That's an open invitation, by the way!!


As always, all pictures are ours and this is not a sponsored post.


  1. What a fantastic neighborhood! We roamed around that area a little bit, and thought it seemed very Industrial Revolutiony. I bet the lofts and apts in those old buildings are amazing!

  2. oh man - this made me seriously homesick! when I first moved to London, Jon was finishing up a lease in Rothehithe, near there, so I have such heady memories of Bermondsey. We're actually having our engagement photos done around Shad Thames / Butler's Wharf! so glad you're settled and happy in your new home :)

  3. What a great tour! I've never heard of Jacob's island--it sounds like another one of those fascinating little areas that are London treasures--full of history and charm.

  4. What a great post - through some of my favourite parts of London! Lovely to find you through POTMC :-)

  5. I've never been to London, but your pictures certainly inspire me to go. So much history and great scenery around you. Thanks for the tour.

  6. Love seeing where you live! I haven't been to the Bermondsey Market, but would love to one day. If you ever go to see the Thames Flood Barrier, I'd love to go with you. I've always wanted to see it :)

  7. Such a stunning and fascinating insight into part of London I haven't seen, Selena. Thanks so much for linking up with the POTMC! J x

  8. Thank you for all the time you spent making these pictures look so great and putting together this post. I loved the tour and the buildings and seeing the local flavor. I hope you'll be very happy there!

  9. you know your "Little Oliver Twist" is a Banksy, right? Some people in the neighbourhood have been trying to white wash over him especially the needle he is pulling out of the bucket

  10. I had no idea. And I'm embarrassed to say I obviously didn't even look close enough to see that it was a needle. Thanks for pointing it out to me! I'll be doing some research now. 


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