Updated: Apr 11, 2020
The Mayflower is an iconic and historic pub on the River Thames in Rotherhithe. Lucky for us, it's just around the corner from our office - making it one of our most frequent recommendations as a "must-visit" for clients new to the area.
The Mayflower dates back to 1550. Given this level of longevity, it has naturally changed hands many times over the years, but it has been a landmark for longer than most of us can even fathom. Popular with locals and tourists alike, it is one of the best pubs in the area for both food an drink. The cozy ground floor bar is fitted out with comfortable tables and decorated to the hilt with odds and ends collected over time. The bar spills out onto one of the best balconies on this side of the river - plenty of picnic tables, tented for use in the colder months, and killer views to feel like you're actually out on the water. The restaurant upstairs is dripping in candles and sparkling views over the river. They serve up some of the best pub fare in the area: classic dishes, daily specials, all high quality and satisfying.
The story is often told that the Mayflower Pub is the actual departure point from which the Mayflower ship sailed to America with the original pilgrims on board however many affirm the pub is connected with the actual ship, but the pilgrims were not boarding from pub to deck and setting off to start a new colony. Anyway, we like to think it was :)
The Mayflower (the ship) used to moor in the area to avoid paying taxes! It would often travel between Rotherhithe and Southampton carrying supplies in and out of London. The ship did ultimately make the journey across the Atlantic, famously setting off from Plymouth - not London - under Captain Christopher Jones. After many years, Captain Jones did return the Mayflower to moor again in Rotherhithe. When Captain Jones eventually died, he was buried just across the street from the Mayflower (the pub) at St. Mary the Virgin church, where you can still visit his memorial stone.
This beautiful pub has kept the history of the ship's connection with the area alive. But don't get us wrong, the Mayflower Pub is no "hidden gem" - it is often considered one of the top ten historic pubs in London and one of the oldest pubs that you can still imbibe in. This in itself is pretty amazing. In the late 1800's the pub was briefly renamed the Spread Eagle and then the Crown, but they swiftly changed it back to keep the historical links alive.
We'll leave you with this little challenge - If you can prove that you have ancestors that took the infamous voyage on the Mayflower, you'll be able to sign your details into the pub's historic register so you too can become a part of the history of this amazing landmark.
Alex & Matteo