Southwark Cathedral


One of the oldest cathedrals in England, whose founding date is still unknown, according to various estimates, is the 7th-9th century. The reason for this is quite simple - the cathedral is so old that the data for so many centuries has simply not been preserved. To be more precise, the building that you can observe now was built in 1200-1400, but it is impossible to give a more accurate figure, because during this period he burned several times. And yes, this cathedral is the first Gothic church in London, which is also relatively well preserved, although almost all the details of the decoration of the building have changed several times over a very long time.

Despite the fact that this is a Gothic building, it is deprived of special gloom and severity, and in the courtyard there is a pretty nice Roman sidewalk. Inside the building housed many woodworks, various paintings and tombs. Also, as entertainment here, organ music periodically sounds and a choir known throughout the UK sings, and a very nice garden is set outside the building where you can freely walk.

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Photo and description

Southworth Cathedral is the main Anglican temple of the district (borough) in the south of historic London, across the Thames from the City. Once the Shakespearean Globe Theater shone here, the famous Bedlam Insane House was located right there. Now Southwark is built up with skyscrapers and shopping centers, in the midst of which a thousand-year-old church rises.

During the Norman conquest of England, she was already standing here - a mention of her is in the Domesday Book of 1086, the first census in Europe conducted by King William the Conqueror. Twenty years later, under Henry I, two Norman knights founded the Augustinian monastery here and consecrated it to Our Lady of the Water (the monastery overlooked the Thames). In its current magnificent form, the church dates from the 13th-15th centuries, when it was reconstructed in the Gothic style.

Struggling against Catholicism, Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1539, the temple became the property of the crown and received a new dedication - the Holy Savior. Divine services continued, but parishioners, annoyed by the need to pay the crown rent under Jacob I, bought the building for 800 pounds. The parish is closely connected with the names of great cultural figures. The main plot of The Canterbury Tales by Jeffrey Chaucer is a pilgrimage from Southwark to Canterbury. The local parishioner was William Shakespeare. Here, in 1607, the future founder of Harvard University in the United States, John Harvard, was baptized.

In the XIX century, the church building fell into decay. During the reconstruction, the nave was rebuilt according to the design of Heinrich Rose, but the alteration caused fierce criticism, and the old nave of the 13th century was carefully restored already according to the project of Sir Arthur Blomfield. In 1905, the monastery church received the status of a cathedral.

In 2000, the temple was significantly expanded: conference rooms, a library, a training center, and a refectory appeared here. The stern Gothic cathedral inside is filled with bright, warm light. In its southern part you can see the remains of the XIII century arcade. Wooden carved knights date from around 1275.

Bright interior details remind us that Shakespeare prayed under these vaults. The stained glass window by Christopher Webb, depicting scenes from Shakespearean plays, was installed after the Second World War: the original died during the bombing. Under the window is the lying figure of a playwright with a feather in his hand, sculpted by Henry McCarthy in 1912.

An unusual feature of the temple is a huge number of portrait monuments to a variety of people. This is the wife of a 17th-century lawyer, Lady Joyce Clerk, and her contemporary, the inventor of miraculous pills, doctor Lionel Lokier, and the 18th-century Londoner Richard Bliss in an allonge wig, and the saddler of Elizabeth I and Jacob I John Bingham. Parishioners of past centuries are staring at life today: in 1999, the cathedral ordained Anglican women priests.

Question of origin

The earliest references to this place were found in the Doomsday Book, which contains records of the first land census conducted in medieval England and dates back to 1086. In this codebook, the Cathedral was designated as a church in the Southwark Monastery. Most historians agree that the monastery could not be built before the formation of the Kingdom of Wessex in the middle of the 7th century. Also dubious is the fact that the construction was completed before 886 (when Londinium - the predecessor of London - again came under the control of the Anglo-Saxons), although the modern head of the Cathedral claims that the monastery was founded by Bishop Saint Svitun in the 9th century.

It is reliably known that in the 11th century the monastery church served parishioners from the south bank of the Thames. Later, in 1106, the monastery was renamed Augustinian. Then the monastery began to bear the name of St. Mary with the additional designation Overy (which means "above the river") - this made it possible to distinguish it from many other monasteries with the same name. Like most of the surrounding lands, Southwark belonged to the Bishop of Winchester, and the future of the monastery was completely curtained by his will. A hospital was organized near the church, which is the direct forerunner of the modern St. Thomas Hospital.

Calling God For Money

In 1536, the monastery collapsed, although six of its canons continued to live in buildings north of the church. The very same church passed into the ownership of King Henry VIII, who handed it over to the flock for prayers for money. The church was renamed the Church of Christ the Savior, although the old name did not go out of use by parishioners for many years.

In 1611, tired of paying for the right to pray, a group of merchants from parishioners bought the church from King James I for 800 pounds. By that time, the church was serving the most diverse representatives of London society: not only merchants and courtiers, but also actors, foreign artisans, and brothel workers.

Demolition Disputes

The church served its parish throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. During this time, various improvements and changes were made to the building. However, the church suffered the most serious shock in 1820. At that time, a proposal was made to move the London Bridge closer to the church. The church itself, already in need of repair, was considered necessary to demolish, and then rebuild in another place. After much discussion, the church was decided to leave in the old place and reconstruct. One of the ardent defenders of the Church of Christ the Savior was the architect George Gwilt, who later engaged in reconstruction.

Last changes

By the mid-19th century, difficult social and economic conditions had developed in south London. The flock proposed the idea of ​​creating a new diocese, and in anticipation of changes under the direction of Sir Arthur Bloomfield, a new nave was designed in the church.
The Church of Christ the Savior became the Southwark Cathedral in 1905. The diocese that it serves covers the territory from the south bank of the Thames to Gatwick Airport, from the Thames district in the east to the village of Thames Ditton in Surrey in the west. More than 300 parishioners visit the Cathedral daily.

The architecture and interior of Southwark Cathedral

The cathedral has the shape of a cross. Inside the Cathedral there are six longitudinal naves and two transverse ones (North and South). The so-called Tower at the intersection rises from the center. The altar and four chapels with gabled roofs are noteworthy. There is a parish chapel adjacent to the southern transverse nave. And the so-called Bishop's Chapel was attached to the eastern end of the church.

And in the South and North transverse naves you can see several interesting sculptures. One of the most impressive monuments here is the monument to Lady Joyce Clerk, erected by her husband William, a local poet and lawyer. It was built by Nicholas Stone, a prominent sculptor of the 17th century.

Another monument was erected in honor of Dr. Lionel Lokier, who in the mid-17th century invented tablets containing, as he himself assured, sunlight. The monument is located above his tomb.

Monument to Richard Bliss - a typical creation of the 18th century. Richard Bliss was a parishioner of Christ the Savior Church and wore a luxurious wig. His bust can be recognized precisely by the wig, which was skillfully fashioned by the sculptor. The widow of Bliss in memory of her husband handed over to the church a silver jug, which is still used.

An unusual structure in the Cathedral is a stilted arch, which often goes unnoticed by visitors. This arch, bearing the color prints of the Middle Ages, is curved to accommodate a spiral staircase going to the top of the tower.

Tourist info

Southwark Cathedral is located in the West End (West London), Canary Wharf, on the south bank of the Thames, near the London Bridge. The nearest metro station is London Bridge. The cost of the metro ride depends on how many transport zones you are going to travel (there are 10 in total), and ranges from 1.5 to 6 GBP. London Bridge is located in transport zone 1. A large number of buses stop near the Cathedral: 21, 35, 40, 47, 133, 17, 43, RV1, 149, 141, 48, 521, 343, 381, 344 - all these routes go to the London Bridge station stop. The cost per bus trip is 1.5 GBP. To save money on traveling around London, you should buy an Oyster card, which will give you a discount of about 50% on the metro and bus.

Southwark Cathedral is open daily from 8am to 6pm. Free admission. Organization of group excursions is possible. The cost of the tour is 4 GBP per person with a guide, for 5 GBP the cathedral will provide its own guide.