Southwark 4/3/15

Today was about going to a talk at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the evening and visiting the place where Stephen’s mother, Grace, was born. We have an address from her birth certificate: 1 Dolben Street, Southwark. She was born in 1911 and we were not sure what we would find in the area.

On arrival at the Tower Bridge station we couldn’t resist having a walk along to the river. We found a Christmas Market and an area with lots of cafes. Clearly we hadn’t gone far enough the previous evening. There were some clouds, but we could see blue sky and it was sunny. A very busy area even on a winter’s day. Still, the mild weather made it easy to be outdoors.

Tower Bridge
London Bridge in sunshine

Then we caught a bus to Southwark to the area where we hoped to find the house. We found the street without difficulty, but could not find number 1. A Royal Mail man was able to clarify that the numbering system for the houses was not logical, with odds and evens on the same side of the street. However, the end of the street where Grace’s family would have lived was blocked off to make way for new buildings.

Looking along Dolben Street
Looking along Dolben Street toward where Grace’s family would have lived.
Dolben Street cut off to make way for this building
The building that now blocks off the end of the street where her family lived.

We spoke to people at the little workman’s cafe. It had been a cafe for a long time and the woman could remember the area being very run down. She said that the Victorian terraces in the area had been torn down to make way for buildings (in the 1960’s) before it was clear that this area would be upgraded and the houses valuable heritage. She also remembered Dolben St before the new building went in. She said it was an old cobbled street.

Workman's cafe near where Grace was born
Stephen looking at the little cafe. The owners of the pub are going to renovate it soon and make it part of the pub.


Basically, we came much too late!

Thompson House at the other end of the street was interesting. It looks as though it would have been there when she was born. There was a blue plaque with: Mary Wollstonecraft 1759-1797 on it.

Mary Wollstonecraft 1759-1797

After talking with the people in the cafe we walked back to the main street to catch a bus. After a long wait we chose a bus back to the Tower Bridge station area, then took a bus over the bridge, then the underground. The traffic was very slow indeed and when we changed to the underground it was all so easy. We were able to get a direct line, with a tunnel which goes to the museums in the area, so it was just a matter of following the signs to the V&A.

V&A dining room
V&A dining room

It is really lovely. I din’t have energy for much, but Stephen went off for a while, then we had a meal in the cafe until it was time to go the the lecture theatre for a talk. Very interesting, about the Anglo Saxon saints, who were the ‘celebrities’ of the time. We thought we might be a bit tired, but it was so interesting that we were enthralled.

As we were leaving, the dining room was abuzz with people, and there was a musician playing a grand piano. There was quite a buzz even at the entry hall with a bar and a DJ playing music. We were able to get direction on getting a bus back to Victoria Station, basically, just go out the front entrance and catch a V1.

We got home at about 9.30 I think.


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