The Borough’s best haunt – ghostly pubs

Beer has been brewed in Borough since at least Geoffrey Chaucer’s time it is no surprise that it has lots of pubs and perhaps also no surprise many have their own resident ghost.

Market Porter Tavern

The Market Porter Tavern has a great range of beers, and does a mean fish and chips with a Borough Market view upstairs.  The first recorded pub on the site was built in 1638 and was known for centuries as The Harrow (I have no idea why). 

On the 5th February 1890 Alfred Howe, a market porter, was drinking with here with his mate Edward Lamb.  Voices were raised, a fight occurred, and Alfred ended up with an umbrella through his eye and died on the front steps of the pub.  Although no-one questioned that Edward drove the umbrella into mate’s face he gets off at the trial, avoiding the noose.  It looked like self defence against a well know local drunk and bully. 

Credit: Stephen King

Ever since Alfred’s vicious death the pub has experienced unexplained supernatural activity.  Glasses fly off tables, footsteps and a man’s voice is heard in the empty bar.  Passers-by after closing time report strange sights in the front bar well after closing time.  If you look up at the pub you can see a painting of a beefy market porter looking out at you and perhaps this is Alfred keeping an eye on things.

Anchor Pub, Bankside. Credit: Hazel Baker

Anchor Pub

Five minutes walk from the Market Tavern, facing the Thames, is the Anchor Pub.  It’s long history is set out on a sign on the wall, which claims Shakespeare drank here.  If the Bard did visit this site, it was not for drinking because in Shakespeare’s time this was the site of the Castille, Bankside’s largest brothel.

But in later times when it had become a pub it became haunted by an unusual ghost. One drinker was attacked in the bar (a not uncommon event), and his dog leapt to his defence.  One of the cruel attackers slammed the dog’s tail in a door, slicing it off and killing the dog. To this day the howls of the tailless dog can be heard at night. In addition muddy footprints of small child are said to mysteriously appear on the pub’s floor, the footprints of paupers drowned in the Thames as they savaged whatever waste they could find to make a living.  

Enjoy your drinks ladies and gentlemen! These ghostly locations will be appearing in my winter twilight tours of Southwark running through the new year.

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