Thomas A Becket in Old Kent Road now open

St Thomas pub sign

The Thomas A Becket pub at the first ‘stop’ out of London on the Pilgrims’ Way has reopened.

The present Thomas A Becket pub building opened in 1898 on the site of an ancient inn on London’s Old Kent Road.

It is located at a spot known as St Thomas a Watering.

Here a bridge crossed a stream which flowed along the line of Albany Street at the side of the pub.

The bridge and ford was the first stop for pilgrims leaving London.

Geoffrey Chaucer knew the bridge and in The Canterbury Tales he has his pilgrims who have set out from Borough High Street pause here.

“And forth we rode a little more than pace
Unto the watering of St Thomas.”

This is where they stop and draw straws to decide the order of story tellers.

The knight draws the short straw and so tells his tale in the Old Kent Road.

The present pub sign is a reproduction of 13th-century glass in Canterbury Cathedral.

The Victorian pub has long been well-known for its associations with boxing. A blue plaque recalls Henry Cooper who trained in the gym upstairs.

This morning boxing legend Frank Bruno, in the presence of the Mayor of Southwark Kath Whittam, cut the ribbon and declared the building open again as Rock Island at The Thomas A Becket.

[Until the pub has its special stamp ready ask the bar staff to sign and date your pilgrim passport.]

Frank Bruno and the Mayor of Southwark
Frank Bruno and the Mayor joined the first diners tasting the new menu
Tables inside the front windows

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