Just off Borough High Street, in south London, is The George Inn, a magnificent black and white, galleried coaching inn.
This amazing building is London’s only surviving galleried coaching inn and would have catered for pilgrims to Canterbury in medieval times. It is not known exactly when the original inn was built – what you see today was rebuilt in 1677 after a huge fire swept through this part of London, destroying many buildings. Both Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare, two British literary giants who both spent much of their lives in this area, are both said to have frequented the inn.
Originally the inn would have taken up all four sides of the courtyard, creating an enclosed space that was used for entertainment for travellers staying here. The other parts of the inn were demolished in the 19th centuries after the advent of the railway led to declining trade. The Great Northern Railway used the site as a storage depot, replacing the historic construction with warehouses.
Fortunately, the pub is now owned by the National Trust – though, as you can see, it still operates as a flourishing business. The restaurant, upstairs, is in the galleried part of the building, which still has many of the original features. While it is a shame that the inn was partially demolished, residents of this part of London are lucky indeed to have this as a local pub!
Find out more about The George and the Borough area on our Canterbury tour. Click here for more information