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Biscuit town Bermondsey: London’s foodie gem, rising above its rough past

Biscuit town Bermondsey: London’s foodie gem, rising above its rough past

Its iconic wharves and warehouses make Bermondsey's riverside a popular lunchtime spot for city workers.

With its cobbled streets and fair number of old buildings, London’s district of Bermondsey shows off a rich history – from well-to-do garden suburb to a notorious riverside slum to a modern, on-the-rise district.

No matter where in Bermondsey you are, it's hard to fully lose sight of the Shard.
No matter where in Bermondsey you are, it’s hard to fully lose sight of the Shard.

Bill Sikes, principle villain is Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, meets his end in the mud of Folly Ditch (an area known as Hickmans Folly), immortalizing Bermondsey riverside’s days as a slum.

Inscriptions on storehouses and wharves are the only remnants of Bermondsey's leather industry.
Inscriptions on storehouses and wharves are the only remnants of Bermondsey’s leather industry.

But 19th century Bermondsey, apart from hosting industry processing leathers and hides – deemed to noisome to be carried out in the crowded City of London – brought Britain something sweeter than literature: biscuits.

Home to Peek, Frean and Co, who developed the Bourbon Biscuit, Bermondsey earned the nickname Biscuit Town; now a global company, their former factory saves a purpose only marginally to do with sweet treats: amongst others, it hosts a climbing wall and gym.

The Fashion and Textile Museum's cheerful yellow stands out amongst Bermondsey's classic brick houses.
The Fashion and Textile Museum’s cheerful yellow stands out amongst Bermondsey’s classic brick houses.

Although it may look a bit rough in places – and it can still be, around the edges – Bermondsey is a haven for small independent shops and restaurants and has become the home of London’s Fashion and Textile Museum, a branch of the White Cube gallery and the Design Museum.

Located on Shad Thames, the Design Museum is one of the most important worldwide.
Located on Shad Thames, the Design Museum is one of the most important worldwide.

Straying from the main road always pays, even at the riverside: warehouses and wharves line the riverside; formerly used to store tea, spices and other commodities needed in the city, the iconic buildings have been transformed into flats and restaurants.

China Wharf, with its iconic red front, is one of the most modern designs of Shad Thames.
China Wharf, with its iconic red front, is one of the most modern designs of Shad Thames.

Indeed, wandering through the area, known as Shad Thames, opens the door to a different, handsomely picturesque London – although Tower Bridge and the busy South Bank are just around the corner, it feels as if time stopped, leaving the wanderer to imagine what it was like 100 years ago.

Shad Thames conjures up an image of a more industrial and less polished London.
Shad Thames conjures up an image of a more industrial and less polished London.

But Bermondsey has more to offer than lovely riverside homes: there are green spaces aplenty, from large Southwark Park to the small, but beautiful, Bermondsey Spa Gardens, and a community as diverse as London itself.

Buddhist monks are a common sight in Bermondsey.
Buddhist monks are a common sight in Bermondsey.

On Spa Road, the Kagyu Samye Dzong London Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Centre for World Peace and Health (located in the gorgeous former Bermondsey Library) open their doors to everyone, no matter if you’re looking for meditation or just want to enjoy some quality time in their tea room.

As a historic food quarter, there’s no way you can miss out on Bermondsey’s culinary highlights: fresh proudce at Borough Market, for example, or super-sleek Italian restaurant Zucca or the Old Justice if you’re looking for a nice pub.

Known for its excellent food, Borough Market is packed with people from lunchtime onwards.
Known for its excellent food, Borough Market is packed with people from lunchtime onwards.

Bermondsey Square is taken over by Bermondsey Antiques Market on Fridays and the Farmers Market on Saturdays; every weekend, Maltby Street Market – sometimes called Borough Market’s baby brother – brings life to the railway arches.

Still a hidden foodie gem, Maltby Street Market is steadily growing in popularity.
Still a hidden foodie gem, Maltby Street Market is steadily growing in popularity.

Everything’s worth trying at the market, but we recommend you stop by Bad Brownie to satisfy your sweet tooth, get your hands on a fresh loaf from St John Bakery or taste the Spanish sun with the Gay Farmer’s products.

Living close to one of London's most popular sights may habe downsides, but the view is always worth it.
Living close to one of London’s most popular sights may habe downsides, but the view is always worth it.

To enjoy classic London sights and entertainment, take the short walk to Tower Bridge and head west, along the South Bank, to see famous skyscrapers, the HMS Belfast and the National Theatre, to name but three.

Five minutes on the Tube and you're at the South Bank's entertainment hot spots.
Five minutes on the Tube and you’re at the South Bank’s entertainment hot spots.

On average, renting a property this close to Central London clocks in at £1,913 (€2,705.02, $2,993), with some one bedroom flats well exceeding £2,000 (€2,828.04, $3,130.15) per month; those looking to buy will face an average of £692,500 (€979,208.84, $1,083,817.85), according to estate agency Foxtons.

With four Tube stations – London Bridge, Bermondsey and Canada Water Underground Stations, all on the Jubilee line, and Borough Underground Station served by the Northern line – and Rotherhite and Surrey Quays Overground Station, Bermondsey is well-connected with the whole of London.

From London Bridge Station, mainline services run to Surrey and Sussex, with regular services into Brighton, and towards the north to Bedford.