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, where Chaucer’s pilgrims gathered in Canterbury Tales, was then a few doors south (it’s gone now). Shakespeare knew it (check out Pete Brown’s 2012 book Shakespeare’s Local), and Dickens memorialized it in Little Dorrit. The oldest section, a galleried wood-and-brick longhouse, dates to 1677, built after a horrific fire swept the district. It later functioned as an 18th-century transit hub, its courtyard encircled with a tavern, a hotel, stables, wagon repair bays, and warehouses; the rise of a railway nearly destroyed it, and only one side of the complex survives. (The National Trust now protects it.) Sip ale in the low-ceilinged timber-and-plaster chambers, or sit in the cobbled courtyard, in the Shard’s shadow, and soak up the fading echoes of history.