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St George the Martyr (Borough High Street)
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Ghosts of the past teem at the road junction in Borough High Street where St George the Martyr stands in an uncommonly fine position. Roman, mediaeval and modern roads of the first importance have all converged here for 2,000 years. King Henry V, for example, passed by in 1415 after his victory at Agincourt. Dickensian ghosts feature, too: the church is widely known as the Little Dorrit Church, for it features prominently in Dickens's novel of 1857, which was prompted by the imprisonment of the novelist's father as a debtor in the neighbouring Marshalsea Prison in 1824. Little Dorrit appears in the east window, at the bottom right-hand comer. St George's is also notable as the burial-place of Nahum Tate, who wrote the Christmas carol 'While Shepherds watched their Flocks by Night'.

St George the Martyr (Borough High Street)

St George's has an enviable site at an important road junction.


The present church was built in 1734-6 by John Price, in red brick and Portland stone, on the site of a building that had appeared in Hogarth's Southwark Fair. The north and south elevations have the usual two tiers of windows to reflect galleries inside, and their brick parapet breaks into a stone balustrade as it nears the west end. The exterior's dominant feature is the west tower, which stands over the main doorway in an eye¬catching combination. The fact that the east clock-face of the four in the steeple is not illuminated gave rise to the myth that a snub to Bermondsey was intended. In fact, the original proposal was to light two faces only. A counter-proposal to light all four was then made, and eventually the parish compromised on three. Bermondsey had nothing to do with the matter.

St George the Martyr (Borough High Street)

The interior preserves its Georgian galleries, box-pews and pulpit. Basil Champneys added the painted plasterwork to the ceiling, showing cherubim singing the Те Deum.


The Georgian interior is well-preserved. It has kept its galleries, of which the west one houses an organ rebuilt by Abraham Jordan in 1702. The box-pews are cut down from the originals, but retain their doors, and the impressive pulpit, held high on four fluted Ionic columns, is one part of the former three-decker. The ceiling is of moulded plaster, which is painted to show cherubim singing the Те Deum, originally by Basil Champneys, 1897. Marion Grant designed the postwar stained glass in the east window. There are many old memorials. In the north gallery there are some to the family of Florance Young, a vatmaker whose premises occupied the site of the nearby King's Bench Prison. A brass tablet of 1618 commemorates the wife of a Marshal of the King's Bench, many of whose inmates found their last resting-place in St George's churchyard, some after execution. In 1610 Michael Banks was hanged twice: he revived after the first time and then spent three hours in the vestry before a second and decisive hanging. The church underwent major restoration in 2005-07.


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