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Unquestionably one of the most important ancient pubs still standing, the George traces its lineage to at least 1542, when a map of Southwark first depicted it; the Tabard Inn, from where Chaucer’s pilgrims left in Canterbury Tales, was then a few doors south (it’s gone now). The oldest part of the current structure, a galleried wood-and-brick longhouse, dates to 1677, after a horrific fire swept the district. It later functioned as an 18th-century transit hub, and its courtyard was encircled on three sides with a tavern, a hotel, stables, wagon repair bays, and warehouses. Shakespeare knew it, and Dickens memorialized it in Little Dorrit, but the rise of a railway nearly saw it destroyed, and only one side of the former complex survives. The National Trust now protects it, and in 2012, Pete Brown traced some of its dramatis personae in the book Shakespeare’s Local. Sip ale in the low-ceilinged timber-and-plaster chambers, or sit in the cobbled courtyard and soak up the echoes of history.