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Southwark Cathedral (part two)
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The mediaeval nave was cleared away in 1838, but its roof bosses of 1469 survive. Sir Arthur Blomfield designed the present seven-bay nave in 1890-7. Its design is based on the 13th-century choir, but adds a few embellishments. It is a very worthy contribution to the whole and serves to remind us of the huge and costly effort that the Victorians put into the care of churches. In effect, all the works from 1890 to 1905 were undertaken to make the old church into a cathedral. Woodwork, stained glass, font, organ and memorials were all inserted or renewed as well as a new nave being built. The works between 1890 and the First World War gave the cathedral much of its present character.

Southwark Cathedral (part two)

The west end, forming part of the nave rebuilt by Sir Arthur Blomfieldin 1890-7.


Southwark Cathedral is rich in monuments. The oldest is a cross-legged knight from the later 13th century, which may represent one of the family of de Warenne, Earls of Surrey, whose members were benefactors to the priory. The main interest is that this is a wooden effigy, a comparatively rare class. From the 15th century, there survives in the north nave aisle the monument of John Gower, a poet, who lived in the priory's precinct until his death in 1408. His head rests on his three books, which were written in Latin, French and Middle English respectively. The Tudor and Stuart periods are well represented. This was a time of some prosperity and civic pride. It was also the time of the Bankside theatres, including the Globe. Shakespeare's memorial in the south nave aisle dates only from 1912 (by H. W. McCarthy) and the window above is as recent as 1954 (by Christopher Webb). The effigy reclines in front of a panorama of Southwark, with the Globe clearly seen.

Southwark Cathedral (part two)

Pugin's tabernacle in the Harvard Chapel, brought here from Pugin's own church at Ramsgate, to Southwark's great advantage.


The grandest of the Tudor and Stuart monuments flank the choir. On the north side there is a memorial to Alderman Richard Humble (died 1616) and his two wives, all kneeling under coffered arches and wearing huge ruffs. The design is attributed to William Cure II, one of the local group of sculptors sometimes known as the Southwark School. On the other side of the choir there is the monument to Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester (died 1626), who was the last bishop to live in the palace next door. His many writings still have a readership today. Sir Ninian Comper gave the monument a worthy new canopy in 1930. To the west of it there is a modern memorial by Cecil Thomas to Edward Talbot, the first Bishop of Southwark. It is a very dignified addition, dating from the twentieth century.

Southwark Cathedral (part two)

A skewed arch betrays different building campaigns.


Further notable early memorials are these: in the north choir aisle, to John Trehearne (died 1618), 'Gentleman Portar to James I, and his wife; in the north transept, Nicholas Stone's so-called Austin monument, which was erected in 1633 by William Austin for his mother, Lady Clerke, and which has an allegorical theme in agricultural dress; in the same transept, to Lionel Lockyer (died 1672), the inventor of a famous (but dubious) pill that promised to 'vanquish all manner of distempers'; and in the south transept, monuments to William Emerson (died 1575) and John Bingham (died 1625). Outside the south transept a later monument of note is that to George Gwilt the younger (died 1856), whose exertions saved and restored much of the surviving mediaeval fabric of the church.The stained glass of the great west window is Henry Holiday's. С. E. Kempe's firm originally filled the windows of the nave aisles: those on the north side remain, but those on the south were blown out in the Second World War. Sir Ninian Comper designed the glass for the east window of the choir: another post-war replacement. Ward and Hughes designed the martyrs' window at the east end of the north wall in the retrochoir. A window in the Harvard Chapel was made by John Lafarge, an American artist, as part of the 300th anniversary celebrations for John Harvard.

Southwark Cathedral (part two)

The north transept.


The treasure of the Harvard Chapel is the tall, gilded tabernacle by A. W. N. Pugin. Southwark Cathedral is very fortunate to have such a fine piece. From a later period comes G. F. Bodley's font and cover, but the latter has regrettably been strung up in an unseemly fashion on a metal frame. Bodley also contributed some woodwork in the choir. The great chandelier under the crossing dates from 1689. The stone screen behind the high altar was given by Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, in 1520. All the statues are modern. Gilding was introduced earlier this century by Comper. He was also responsible for the furnishings of the altars in the retrochoir; his usual riddel posts and angels abound. Just south of the crossing there is a more recent memorial to the Bohemian (i.e. Czech) artist, Wenceslaus Hollar (died 1677), who completed his famous panorama of London at about the same time the Civil War erupted in 1642. Only the tower of St Saviour's could have provided such a perfect platform for what proved the most accurate depiction of London before the Great Fire destroyed its mediaeval profile forever.

The recent Chapter House and ancillary buildings, which were opened in 1988, were by Ronald Sims. The work is unsympathetic in style to the Gothic cathedral, even if it tries a little in the choice of materials. Further buildings to more agreeable designs by Richard Griffiths have since been erected on the north side.


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