You’d think Becky Jones was born and raised in Bermondsey, so encyclopaedic is her knowledge of this nook and its SE1 surroundings. While the Stockton singer-songwriter, who goes by the name Saint Saviour, only settled here a few years ago, she is the first to champion this bit of London’s history, culture and culinary spots.
Jones took a break from readying the release of her second album, In The Seams, and rehearsing for her tour, to take Londonist out for an afternoon around Bermondsey — showing us her favourite haunts and telling us some of her local anecdotes.
“When I moved down to London I was initially living west, working at a recording studio called Metropolis in Chiswick and doing stuff like finding hot dogs for James Brown or getting crazy sushi for Elton John. I was basically a runner and that’s also where I met my husband,” Jones tells us.
She relocated to SE1 when her husband, Sam, set up an illustration agency and staged his first project, a fine art exhibition, at the Fashion and Textile Museum on Bermondsey Street. “Sam got the space because it was in conjunction with the regeneration of Bermondsey Square at the time,” Jones explains. “That regeneration had been held up for years and years after they’d discovered an old abbey under the ground — Bermondsey Abbey — which was dedicated to Saint Saviour. That was the start of Bermondsey and everything else was built around it, because Bermondsey was basically just a marsh!”
Jones now lives in what she describes as the old-fashioned part of Bermondsey, The Blue. “I think it is called that because this whole area was built for the Scottish dockers, who worked on the river and that’s what started the Millwall Football Club — it was the Scottish dockers’ team and they wore blue”, she says.
Is there just one thing she can pin down about why she loves the area so much? “There are so many things. I don’t really have a hobby, because doing music for a job is one life-long hobby, but the closest thing to a hobby for me is history — I love reading about history. With Bermondsey, it feels very historical. There are lots of protected areas and really interesting characters throughout history who moved through here.
"Then there’s the Dickens connection, further towards Borough and London Bridge, with debtor's jail Marshalsea Prison, where Dickens’s father was locked up. It was mentioned in Little Dorrit, and the remains of the prison are still there behind Borough High Street.
"Also, just being able to take a short walk to Tower Bridge is really amazing. I find that exciting. It feels like you’re in a really suburban area but you’re basically 15 minutes from town.”
Jones tells us this over a cup of coffee in her home, which is the first stop on our visit. We start there, as she has something special to show us...