Point of Interest

Southwark Cathedral

England / Europe

Southwark Cathedral (the former Priory Church of St Marie Overie at Southwark), is one of only three churches in London that survive from the great monasteries of London. Mary Overie was the daughter of John Overs, who amassed a fortune ferrying people over the Thames in the days before London Bridge. He decided to save money by feigning his own death, and thus obliging his servants to fast. But they hated him so much that they held a celebratory feast. He was so annoyed by this that he rose from his hiding place. But one of his servants thought he was the devil, and ran him through, killing him. His sorrowing daughter, Mary, founded a convent, which developed into priory, church and later Cathedral. It was raised to Cathedral status in 1905. In 1552 the Priory Church became the parish church to a colourful area of London, whose parishioners included merchants, minor courtiers and even prostitutes. By the 1830s it had fallen into a dilapidated condition and was under threat of demolition. Some of it was restored under the architect, George Gwilt, though the Nave was beyond repair. In 1841 a new Nave was built, and in 1895 this was replaced by the present Nave. Today Southwark Cathedral is frequently used by the Archbishop of Canterbury to consecrate bishops. The cathedral contains a memorial to those who died in the Marchioness boat disaster in which 51 people lost their lives when the Marchioness collided with a dredger near Southwark Bridge on an August night in 1989. The cathedral also contains a memorial to William Shakespeare, designed by Helen McCarthy, and placed there in 1911. There is also a Shakespeare window, depicting Shakespearian characters.  

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