Address: London Bridge, London SE1 9DA


Phone: 0207 367 6700

Entry Price: Free

350m from London Bridge

100m from London Bridge

Southwark Cathedral is situated on the South Bank of the Thames near London Bridge railway station and is regarded as London’s first and finest Gothic building. Its official name is the Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie.

It’s been a cathedral since 1905 but is believed to have been a place of worship for much longer, probably well over 1,000 years. A community of nuns are thought to have lived on the site from the 7th century with St Swithin, who was Bishop of Westminster in the 9th century, setting up a college of priests. It was originally called the church of St Mary Ovarie and was rebuilt between 1220-1420 after a fire destroyed the old building.

In 1539, following the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII the church was taken by the Crown and rented back to the congregation, with its name changing to St Saviour’s. Tired of renting, and mindful that the area was becoming the most lively in London with property selling well, a group of churchgoers bought the church from James I for £800. The area saw the opening of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre as well as other theatres and all manner of entertainment and the congregation included actors, courtiers from the nearby palace and prostitutes.

The church was nearly demolished in 1820, to build London Bridge, but survived and was renovated in the 19th century in the original Gothic style. The nave emanated from this time and the building retained its early English choir and 16th century reredos.

Chaucer and Dickens wrote about the old church and on display today is a monument to William Shakespeare. John Harvard, the founder of Harvard University in America was baptised in the church in 1607. The Cathedral’s Harvard Chapel has been decorated today with gifts from Harvard University.

Near the river, it’s found within walking distance of a host of popular London landmarks which include The Shard, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.