Bell's Cathedrals: Southwark Cathedral
by George Worley
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Transcriber's Note: Inconsistent hyphenation in the original document has been preserved. Text enclosed between equal signs was in bold face in the original. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. For a complete list, please see the end of this document.


Formerly the Collegiate Church of St. Saviour, Otherwise St. Mary Overie

A Short History and Description of the Fabric, with Some Account of the College and the See



With XXXVI Illustrations

London George Bell & Sons 1905

Chiswick Press: Charles Whittingham and Co. Tooks Court, Chancery Lane, London.


The numerous authorities, ancient and modern, which I have been obliged to draw upon, are acknowledged, where necessary, in the text.

Those who wish to pursue the study of St. Saviour's Cathedral in greater detail and completeness than is here possible, must be referred to some of the larger works to which I have had recourse; e.g., those by Moss and Nightingale (1817-1818), F.T. Dollman (1881), and the Rev. Dr. Thompson (1904). The Surrey Archaeological Society's "Collections" are also to be recommended for the valuable subsidiary matter they contain, in the shape of original documents, selected and carefully edited from sources not easily accessible to the public.

For facts not elsewhere recorded I am under special obligations to Sir Arthur Blomfield and Sons, architects for the restoration, who have not only afforded most useful information, and given access to drawings, which they alone possessed, but have been good enough to draw up the plan, showing the most recent work at the Cathedral, expressly for this volume.

I am scarcely less indebted to their Clerk of the Works, Mr. Thomas Simpson, who superintended the whole restoration of 1890-1897, and has generously placed his exceptional knowledge at my disposal.

Others to be thankfully remembered are Mr. Harry Lloyd, of "The Daily Chronicle," and the Proprietors of "Church Bells," who have kindly contributed the illustrations bearing their names; Mr. C.A. Webb, Private Secretary to the Bishop of Southwark; Mr. A.W. Dodwell Moore, Chapter Clerk; the Rev. W.W. Hough and Mr. S.C. Lapidge, Secretaries to the Diocesan Society; Mr. F.C. Eeles, Secretary to the Alcuin Club; and the Rev. Dr. Thompson, Rector and Chancellor of St. Saviour's, each of whom has added something within his special province.

Most of the photographs have been taken by Mr. Godfrey P. Heisch, direct from the fabric. The specification of the organ comes from the builders, Messrs. Lewis and Co., Limited.

To all these thanks are due: also to the Cathedral authorities for facilities of access, and to the Vergers of the Cathedral and Chapter House for their services during my examination of the buildings.



















The history of St. Saviour's takes us back to those distant days when Southwark was but a marsh, and when there was no bridge across the Thames. John Stow, historian and antiquary (1525-1605), was acquainted with Bartholomew Linstede, the last of the Priors, and gives the following account of its origin on his authority:

East from the Bishop of Winchester's house, directly over against it, standeth a fair church, called St. Mary-over-the-Rie, or Overie; that is, over the water. This church, or some other in place thereof, was, of old time, long before the Conquest, a house of sisters, founded by a maiden named Mary; unto the which house and sisters she left, as was left to her by her parents, the oversight and profits of a cross ferry, or traverse ferry over the Thames, there kept before that any bridge was built. This house of sisters was after by Swithun, a noble lady, converted into a college of priests, who in place of the ferry built a bridge of timber, and from time to time kept the place in good reparations; but lastly, the same bridge was built of stone; and then in the year 1106 was this church again founded for canons regular by William Pont de la Arch, and William Dauncey, Knights, Normans.

Stow's account has been disputed in several particulars. Although it may be taken for granted that there was a cross-ferry before there was a bridge, it does not follow that the bridge immediately superseded it; and it has been suggested, as more likely, that both means of transit were used for some time simultaneously, as is the case to-day at other places.

If the first London Bridge was built by Roman engineers during the Roman occupation, it may be assumed that the bridge existed before the church. That the first bridge was a Roman structure has been almost proved by the discovery of Roman coins and other relics among the debris of the original work during the erection of later bridges. We have an evidence of the antiquity of the site in some Roman tesserae, discovered in 1832, while a grave was being dug in the south-east corner of the churchyard, and still preserved in the pavement, near the entrance, in the south aisle of the choir. These tesserae, with the pottery, tiles, coins, lachrymatories, sepulchral urns, etc., excavated from time to time in and about the church, are clear indications of an important Roman settlement.

It is known that after the destruction of Roman London by Boadicea, a great many Romans made their escape into Southwark, where they continued to live, and contributed greatly to the size and importance of the southern suburb. The principal buildings sprang up round the site of St. Saviour's Church, and it has been reasonably conjectured that a temple stood on the very spot that the church now occupies.[1]

It is true that no trace of this temple has been discovered; but the conjecture is not inconsistent with the known principles of the early Christian missionaries, in their contact with paganism, as illustrated in the history and traditions of other important churches.

Stow's phrase, "long before the Conquest," though somewhat ambiguous, has been thought to point to a date posterior to the Roman occupation. Some authorities, therefore, contend that the Romans had erected London Bridge and left the country before St. Mary's was founded, and consequently the bridge the antiquary mentions as built by "Swithun, a noble lady," was not the first. Again, it is doubtful whether the sub-title "Overie" means "of the ferry," or "over the river," or whether the form "Overies," which the word sometimes takes, does not suggest a derivation from "Ofers," "of the bank or shore," a meaning contained in the modern German Ufer. John Overy, or Overs, was the father of Mary, but whether the surname was derived from the place, or vice versa, is uncertain. In any case, the name, whether by accident or design, includes a reference to the foundress as well as to the locality of her foundation.[2]

Stow is obviously wrong, however, as to the person who converted the House of Sisters into a College of Priests, who was not a lady, but St. Swithun, Bishop of Winchester (852-862), whose devotion to the building of churches and bridges is well known.

The character of the foundation, altered by St. Swithun, was again altered in 1106, under Bishop William Giffard, with the co-operation of the two Norman knights to whom Stow refers. They not only erected the first Norman nave, but made a radical change within by abolishing the "College of Priests," in whose place they introduced "Canons regular" of the Augustinian Order, governed by a Prior, thus transforming the Collegiate Church into a monastery. Except as regards the sex of the inmates, the change was a reversion to the idea of the foundress.[3]

The Norman work of this period is the earliest of which any traces remain in the present church, unless the doubtful signs on a shaft in the exterior are to be taken as evidence of Saxon workmanship. This shaft is attached to the north wall of the Chapel of St. John-the-Divine (now used as a clergy vestry), which is perhaps the oldest part of the fabric. The undoubted Norman remains consist of three arches in the same chapel, where their outline is just discernible among the brickwork; the fragment of a string-course, with billet moulding, on the inner wall of the north transept; a portion of the Prior's entrance to the cloisters; the old Canons' doorway; and an arcaded recess. Of these, it may be briefly remarked that the remains of the Prior's door, showing the mutilated shafts and the zigzag moulding of the jambs, are preserved, in situ, in the outer face of the north wall to the new nave. The outline of the Canons' entrance, obviously of much simpler moulding, will be seen on the inner side of the same wall, towards the west end. The Norman recess lies still farther to the west on the same side.

Quite recently a valuable relic of the same period has been discovered in the north-east corner within the above-mentioned chapel (by the side of the new Harvard window)—apparently part of the original arcading to the apse.

Early in the thirteenth century London was visited by one of those great fires, which occurred at rather frequent intervals, before the greatest of all, in 1666, led to the rebuilding of the city, and better means for its protection. The date of the particular fire is sometimes given as 1207, sometimes as 1212 or 1213. It is not unlikely that there were several, in one or other of which London Bridge, Southwark, and the church were seriously injured. (Vide Stow and Harleian MSS., No. 565.)

The repairs were soon taken in hand by Peter de la Roche, otherwise de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester (1205-1238), who altered the nave into the Early English, which was then generally superseding the heavier Norman work, and shortly afterwards built the choir and retro-choir in a still lighter and more ornate style. The architecture gives us the approximate date of de la Roche's work as the early part of the thirteenth century, which is about as near as we can get to it in the absence of a more precise record than that it was "begun after the fire." In consequence of this, or some previous fire, the Canons were led to found a hospital close to the Priory for the relief of the distress and disease caused by the disaster. During the restorations by Peter de Rupibus, in or about 1228, he had the hospital transferred to a more favourable site in the neighbourhood, where the air was fresher and water more abundant, and dedicated it to St. Thomas of Canterbury, to whom the chapel on London Bridge was also dedicated.[4]

In addition to all this excellent work, Bishop de Rupibus built a chapel for the parishioners, the conventual church being reserved for the Prior and monks. This chapel stood in the angle between the walls of the choir and south transept, and was called St. Mary Magdalene Overy.

In the reign of Richard II there was another fire, involving repairs; and then, as well as in the reign of Henry IV, Perpendicular features were introduced by Cardinal Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester (1405-1447), aided by John Gower, the "Father of English Poetry." The Cardinal is said to have restored the south transept at his own expense, and is there commemorated in a sculptured representation of his hat and coat of arms affixed to a pier by the door. The difference in style between the two transepts shows that on the north to be of somewhat earlier date, though it was probably not left untouched by the restorers. The poet Gower founded a chantry in the Chapel of St. John Baptist, in the north aisle, where he was eventually buried, and where daily masses were said for the repose of his soul before the Reformation. His monument was transferred to the south transept during the "repairs and beautifications" of 1832, but is now restored to its original place over the poet's remains in the fifth bay (from the west), of the north aisle of the nave. The chapel and chantry have unfortunately disappeared.

In 1469 the stone roof of the old nave fell down. The accident has been attributed to the removal, in the reign of Richard II, of the flying buttresses by which the vault was originally supported, as is still the case with the choir walls. Another roof of groined oak was soon substituted, as less likely to suffer from its own weight. That it was not a specially light structure, however, may be inferred from the massive bosses preserved from it, and now to be seen on the floor of the north transept.

The crowning piece of work, which very shortly preceded the ruin brought about by the Dissolution, was set upon the Priory Church by Bishop Fox in 1520, in the magnificent altar-screen, which through all its mutilations has borne witness to his work in his favourite device of the "Pelican in her piety," and the humorous allusion to his name, in the figure of a man chasing a fox, among its sculptured ornaments. The west end of the church was considerably altered, and a new western doorway inserted, with a six-light window above it, at about the same time; when also the upper stages of the tower were erected. The window is said to have been altered for the worse in the seventeenth century, and in its last phase the whole facade presented what Mr. Dollman describes as "a heterogeneous mass of masonry and brickwork," not worth preserving when the modern restoration was taken in hand. The flying buttresses have been reproduced in the new nave, and the chief doorway placed in the south-west corner, which the architect was led to believe was its original position.

It is generally admitted that by the sixteenth century the monastic institutions had so far departed from the ideal of their founders, and outlived their usefulness, as to call for some drastic measures for their improvement. Steps had been taken from time to time with this object, before the reign of Henry VIII, when a combination of circumstances, into which we need not now enter, enabled the King to carry out his scheme for the Dissolution of the monasteries, comprising the two chief classes of abbeys and priories into which they were divided. The coming storm was heralded at St. Mary's on 11th November, 1535 on which date, "by command of the king," a solemn procession was held in the church to inaugurate its downfall by a Litany, in which the Prior and Canons took part, "with their crosses, candlesticks and vergers before them," as if in mockery of the state of which they were so soon to be deprived. The "Act of Suppression," passed in 1536, sealed the fate of the smaller foundations, to be followed three years later by the "voluntary surrender" of their property by the larger monasteries, thus making a clean sweep of the whole. The last Prior, Linstede, has been blamed for so far acquiescing in the measure as to accept a pension from the royal bounty; but with the fate of the last Abbot of Glastonbury before him, who had been hanged for his resistance, he probably thought that his own opposition would only have led to a useless martyrdom without averting the fall of his priory. It may be mentioned, as having some bearing on our history, that part of the wealth released by the Act was applied to the foundation of six new bishoprics, thus by a strange coincidence bringing up the English dioceses to the number of twenty-four, originally fixed upon by Pope Gregory the Great, while his successor was set at defiance by the measures through which they were created.

St. Mary Overy now enters on a new phase of existence. We have seen that it had become a double church, by union with the church, or chapel, of St. Mary Magdalene, the one a conventual, the other a public, place of worship. In the immediate neighbourhood there was a third church, dedicated to St. Margaret, which had been founded by Bishop Giffard in 1107, and granted to the fraternity at St. Mary's by charter of Henry I. By an Act of 1540, the year of Linstede's surrender, the whole were united into a single parish, under the title of St. Saviour's, thenceforward the official designation of the Collegiate Church and surrounding district. The new dedication was suggested by, and intended to perpetuate the memory of, the convent of that name in Bermondsey (founded by Alwin Child, a London citizen, in 1082), which shared the fate of its companions at the Dissolution.

Soon after the amalgamation, St. Margaret's Church was secularized, and divided into three portions for use respectively as a Sessions' Court, a Court of Admiralty, and a prison. It stood on the ground where the old Southwark Town Hall was afterwards built, itself a perpetuation of the secular uses to which the deconsecrated church was put before it was destroyed. A relic of St. Margaret's survives in the shape of a monumental slab to Aleyn Ferthing, five times Member for Southwark, about the middle of the fourteenth century. The stone was discovered in 1833 during some excavations on the site of the old church, and transferred to St. Saviour's, where it is imbedded in the pavement of the retro-choir. From 1540 the Priory Church and Rectory were leased to the parishioners by the Crown, at a rental of about L50 per annum, till 1614, when the church was purchased right out from James I for the sum of L800.

The Corporation into whose hands the newly constituted parish of St. Saviour's passed in 1540 consisted of thirty vestrymen, of whom six were churchwardens.[5]

The latter, as representatives of the ancient Seniores Ecclesiastici, were charged with the protection of the edifice and church furniture, but the records show that they had no special veneration for either. The Act of 1540, appointing them to St. Saviour's, had formed them into a Corporation in continuation of the Perpetual Guild or Fraternity of the Assumption, incorporated in 1449. This Guild was afterwards merged in the Churchwardens of St. Margaret's, whence the existing officers were transferred to St. Saviour's on the amalgamation of the parishes, and others added to their number. With the help of their fellow vestrymen they soon set to work to render the Collegiate Church more convenient. To secure an easy communication between that church and the adjacent chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, they cut through the south wall of the choir, and constructed four clumsy arches in it, thus opening the way from one building to the other. From that time forward the smaller of the two was used as a vestibule, and the other chapels and chantries pertaining to the larger church were doomed to destruction, as being no longer required under the altered conditions. The proceedings which strike us as most sacrilegious occurred in the Lady Chapel. Perhaps they cannot be better described than in Stow's graphic words:

The chapel was leased and let out, and the House of God made a bakehouse. Two very fair doors ... were lathed, daubed, and dammed up, the fair pillars were ordinary posts, against which they piled billets and bavens. In this place they had their ovens, in that a bolting place, in that their kneading trough, in another (I have heard) a hog's trough, for the words that were given me were these: "This place have I known a hog-stie, in another a storehouse to store up their hoarded meal, and in all of it something of this sordid kind and condition."

That the description is not exaggerated is proved by the parish registers, which also show that the state of things went on for some years and did not improve with time. On 15th May, 1576, for instance, a vestry order is recorded in which the lessee of the chapel is called upon to repair certain broken windows and remove nuisances. In the following December, a further entry states that fourteen members of the vestry went in a body to the chapel to see whether their orders had been attended to, having allowed the lessee more than six months to act on the notice. They found the place turned into a stable "with hogs, a dung-heap and other filth" about, and were thereupon empowered to take legal proceedings to keep the tenant up to his contract.[6]

In the reign of Edward VI the Prayer-book and its vernacular services were introduced. The people had hardly got used to them before the accession of Queen Mary, and the consequent papal reaction, restored the Latin mass, around which most of the religious controversies of the time were furiously raging. During that brief reign the retro-choir was turned to more respectable use as a Spiritual Court, though the memories attaching to it in that character constitute a gloomy chapter in its history which we would gladly eliminate.

On Monday, 28th January, 1555, and the two following days, a commission, appointed by the Cardinal Legate, sat there for the trial of certain preachers and heretics. It was presided over by Bishops Gardiner, of Winchester, and Bonner, of London, and included eleven other Bishops, besides several eminent laymen. On the first day the proceedings were open to the public, but as the crowd was inconvenient, and the example or logic of the accused thought likely to be contagious, the doors were closed on the Tuesday and Wednesday, except to a few privileged spectators. The trials ended in the condemnation of six clergymen of high standing, viz.:

1. The Rev. Lawrence Saunders, Rector of Allhallows', Bread Street.

2. The Rev. John Bradford, Prebendary of St. Paul's Cathedral.

3. The Rev. John Rogers, Prebendary of St. Paul's, and Vicar of St. Sepulchre's, Newgate Street.

4. The Rev. Rowland Taylor, Rector of Hadleigh, Suffolk.

5. The Right Rev. Robert Ferrar, Bishop of St. David's, and

6. The Right Rev. John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, all of whom were afterwards burnt. They are commemorated in the windows of the chapel, which include the Ven. John Philpot, Archdeacon of Winchester, who suffered at the same time, though his examination was held elsewhere. The odium of this melancholy transaction of course rests on the presiding Bishops, neither of whom was afterwards anxious to take the undivided responsibility. Bishop Gardiner did not long survive it. He died on the 13th November, in the same year, at Whitehall, whence his body was conveyed, via Southwark, to Winchester for interment. The funeral procession went by water from Westminster to St. Mary Overy, where his obsequies were performed, and his intestines buried before the high altar, in order that the honour of holding his remains might be shared by the two principal churches in his diocese.[7]

Immediately on the accession of Queen Elizabeth, steps were taken to reconcile the conflicting elements within the Church of England, whose extreme representatives had been brought into violent collision in the previous reign. A compromise was offered to them in a new Prayer-book, which aimed at combining the principles of the first and second books of Edward VI, in order to comprehend within the pale of the Church those who had been excluded from it by a rigid interpretation of the rubrics on either hand. On one side the rubrics of Edward's second book were modified so as to allow greater liberty in the use of ornaments and vestments, while on the other, the sentences employed at the distribution of the elements in Holy Communion, which had been held to support two opposite theories of the Sacrament in the previous books, were united in the new one, as involving no real contradiction.

Notwithstanding the rubric which was inserted in Elizabeth's book for the retention of the ornaments in use under Edward VI, an order was issued in the first year of her reign (18th September, 1559), for the sale of certain "Popish ornaments" at St. Saviour's, to meet the expenses of repairing the church, and in consideration of the purchase of the new lease. A list of the ornaments so disposed of may be interesting:

Two small basons of silver, parcel gilt, weighing 22 ounces, with a salver, double gilt, and a paten, parcel gilt.

Two altar-cloths, and a vestment of black velvet and crimson satin, embroidered in gold and silver.

A cope and vestment (deacon and sub-deacon) of green velvet, with flowers of gold.

Three copper cases, 43 pieces of stuff, and 4 "aules."

The whole of which were sold for L14 5s. 8d.

Other articles sold included:

A painted cloth from before the rood, realizing 7s.

Two altar-cloths of white fustian, 16s.

Two altar-cloths of white damask, with flowers of green and gold, 21s.

Two altar-cloths, pea-green and white damask, 17s.

Two altar-cloths of green and white satin, with letters of gold, 58s.

One altar-cloth of satin, 17s.

Three vestments of blue damask, with crimson velvet crosses, 42s.

A white damask cope; "a little narrow thing like a valance," with the name of Jesus in gold—sold for 8d.

Candlesticks, censers, with "other broken brass," "as little bells and such like," containing in weight, 34 lb., sold at 6d. a pound.

In pursuance of this destructive work an order was given on 31st May, 1561, "That all the church books in Latin be defaced and cut according to the injunctions of the Bishop"; the effect of which has been to deprive us of many valuable parish records which happened to be written in the Latin language, in addition to the more distinctly ecclesiastical books expressly included in the order.

On the very next day another order followed to the effect, "That the Rood Loft be taken down, and made decent and comely as in the other churches in the City." The changes which all this implies in the adornment and accessories of religious worship under Queen Elizabeth, were supplemented by the teaching from the pulpit. This was chiefly done by the "Preaching Chaplains" introduced at St. Saviour's in that reign. The first appointments were made in 1564, when two Chaplains assumed office, and divided the preaching between them.

The arrangement, allowing two men to act simultaneously but quite independently of each other, remained in force till our own times, though its disadvantages soon began to appear. The Chaplains, though committed by their appointment to the general doctrines of the Reformation, were by no means bound to agree on the many debatable questions to which the Reformation had given rise, and did not always convey the same doctrines to their people, or work harmoniously together. It was not, however, till the year 1868 that this inconsistency was corrected by merging the two offices into one; and in 1883 the measure was supplemented by an Act which abolished the office of Chaplain altogether, and made him who then held it the first Rector.

It may here be added that the parishioners had acquired the right of appointment to the pastorate by their purchase of the church in 1614; but the scandals attending the public election at every vacancy led to its abolition in 1885, when the right was transferred to the Bishop of the diocese by Act of Parliament.[8]

In 1618 Dr. Lancelot Andrewes was appointed Bishop of Winchester, where he died in 1626. During his episcopate he often visited St. Saviour's, as the most important church in his diocese, next to his own cathedral. His pronounced churchmanship occasionally brought him into strong contrast with the Chaplains, who usually went much further in the Puritan direction than their Bishop, while they were themselves apt to be pushed forward or restrained by the parishioners. The latter, as holding the appointment in their hands, had established a sort of censorship over their pastors, which they were not slow to exercise against any tendency to "unsound" teaching. The records of the parish show that the Chaplains had to ask leave of absence when they wanted a holiday, and were otherwise kept in excellent order by their lay superiors.

About this time considerable alterations were made in the interior of the church to bring it into line with the current spiritual discipline. In or about 1615 galleries were set up for the first time across the north and south transepts, and in 1618 a screen and gallery in place of the old rood loft between the nave and choir, were "worthily contrived and erected." Somewhere between this date and 1624 an inner porch, of semi-classical design, was inserted at the west end.

That closed and rented pews were introduced at this period may be inferred from the following Representation, made by the churchwardens to the Bishop of the diocese in 1639:

"We assure your Lordship that a Pew wherein one Mrs. Ware sits, and pleads to be placed, is, and always hath been, a Pew for Women of a far better rank and quality than she, and for such whose husbands pay far greater duty than hers, and hath always been reserved for some of the chiefest Women dwelling on the Borough side of the said Parish, and never any of the Bankside were placed there, the Pews appointed for that Liberty being for the most part on the North side of the body of the Church."[9]

The Prayer-book services were suspended at St. Saviour's, as elsewhere, during the Commonwealth, by the Act of Parliament passed on 3rd January, 1645, which established the "Directory" in their place.

"The Directory for the Public Worship of God in the three Kingdoms" was not so much a book of devotions as a set of instructions to the minister, who was allowed the discretion of using what the book provided, or extemporising a service of his own upon its principles. On the Restoration of Charles II, an attempt was made at the Savoy Conference (1661) to reconcile the conflicting religious parties into which the country had been divided—an attempt which was not at all successful with those outside the Church of England. The result of the Conference, as far as the Church was concerned, was the issue of the revised Book of Common Prayer in 1662, which restored, with certain modifications, the form of services withheld during the inter-regnum.

The sacraments had been much neglected under the Protectorate; baptism was seldom administered, and the records of St. Saviour's show that marriages were then performed by the magistrates instead of the ordained ministers, the banns being published in the market-place.

During the next few years various structural alterations were made within and without the edifice. The chief of these were the rebuilding, in 1676, of the Bishop's or Lady Chapel, which had been damaged by fire; and some alteration in the tower pinnacles in 1689, when new vanes (bearing that date) were also set up. Mr. Dollman conjectures that the buttresses, if they ever existed, were then removed from the tower.[10]

The "Bishop's Chapel" was a small building projecting eastward from the retro-choir. The name was popularly conferred upon it as the place of Bishop Andrewes' interment, but there can be no reasonable doubt that it was the true Lady Chapel, and that its more correct designation, though popularly disused, was the "Little Chapel of Our Lady." This small building was destroyed in 1830, as interfering with the approach to new London Bridge, when the body of Bishop Andrewes was transferred to its present place in the retro-choir.

In the eighteenth century the interior was altered in various details, with the object of bringing it into harmony with the current notions of ecclesiastical beauty, and the classical forms which architecture had assumed. In the year 1703 a new altar-piece, in the Corinthian style, was erected in front of Bishop Fox's fine stone screen, which it completely concealed. A wooden framework of classical pillars, with figures of Moses and Aaron on either side, and the Creed, Lord's Prayer, and Ten Commandments in the spaces between them, the whole surmounted by flaming censers and a circle of flying cherubs, made up a composition not at all bad in itself but utterly out of character with the Gothic work behind and around it. At the same time the sanctuary was railed and paved with black and white marble, the body of the church newly paved and galleried, a pulpit with sounding-board erected, and the whole church "cleaned, white-washed, and beautified throughout, at the charge of the parish." That the work was generally approved may be inferred from the remark of Stow's "Continuator": "This is now a very magnificent church since the late reparation"; while another exponent of public opinion, speaking of this and some later improvements of the same kind says, "Though the church hath been often repaired, yet the beauty for which it is justly admired consists in this repair."

In May, 1821, the restoration of the choir was proposed and entertained for the first time, a restoration which the dilapidated state of the clerestory and triforium showed to be necessary. The proposal was not allowed to pass without opposition, for a counter motion was submitted for the complete destruction of the whole building except the tower, to which a brand-new church was to be adapted. Fortunately this latter scheme was negatived by a large majority of the parishioners, and the work of restoration was committed to the then famous Gothic architect Mr. George Gwilt. He did his work most carefully and conscientiously, adhering as far as possible to the original, though hampered throughout his progress by contradictory instructions from the managing committee, who, like most bodies of that kind, were apt to fluctuate between motives of economy and a sense of what was due to the ancient fabric. The Gothic revival was then in an incipient stage, and Mr. Gwilt, or his committee, must be held responsible for the removal of the old east gable, with its five-light Tudor window, erected by Bishop Fox, in place of which a new window of three lights was inserted. During this restoration the Church of St. Mary Magdalene was demolished in 1822, together with some old houses, which are less to be regretted as having encroached too closely on the walls of the choir.

In 1825 the restoration of the nave began to be seriously considered, its dilapidated state having been made more conspicuous by contrast with the restored chancel. Tenders for the work were invited by public advertisement, but nothing important was done while the vestry were discussing the respective advantages of "rebuilding" and "repairing," and the nave was neglected till it got beyond repair. In the meantime the two transepts were restored by Mr. Robert Wallace in 1830.

He substituted new designs of his own for the original tracery in the most important window in the south transept; and (probably influenced by an economical committee) made the fatal mistake of employing cement instead of stone for the interior mouldings, and a soft Bath stone for his repairs to the exterior. The action of time and weather has shown the false economy of the work. In the same year the "Bishop's Chapel" was destroyed, as before mentioned. In 1832 a much graver act of vandalism was threatened by the Bridge Committee in their proposal for widening the roadway, which meant the entire destruction of the retro-choir. The suggestion was to leave a space of sixty feet wide, afterwards extended to seventy, between the east end of the church and the bridge.[11] This was too much for the inhabitants of Southwark, who rose to the occasion in a vigorous protest by which the venerable building was saved.

At their first meeting on the subject (24th January) the vestrymen endorsed the proposal of the Bridge Committee by a large majority. At a subsequent meeting, held within a week, public opinion had been aroused on the subject, and the majority was reduced to three. The moral victory for the Church and Borough of Southwark, headed by Bishop Sumner, was secured by the poll there and then demanded, the result of which was announced, in two days' time, as: "For the retention of the building, 380; against, 140; majority for the retention, 240."

The retro-choir was saved, and Mr. Gwilt completed the good work by restoring it, giving his services gratuitously. The nave had been already doomed. It had got into such a ruinous state by 1831 that at a Vestry Meeting holden on the 3rd, and confirmed on the 10th, of May, it was resolved:

"That the whole of the roof, from the western door to the west end of the tower, called the nave, consisting of ceiling, roof, walls, and pillars, as far as dangerous, be sold and cleared away; the remainder of the walls, pillars, and family vaults to be left open to the weather. And that the choir, north and south transepts, be enclosed, to the eastern part of the church, for divine service; and that the pews, situated in the nave, be removed into such part, for the accommodation of the inhabitants."

In 1838 the nave, having been sufficiently operated on by the climate and other destructive forces, was taken down; and in the following year the foundation stone of a mean and flimsy substitute, in the "Gothic" of the period, was laid by Dr. Sumner, then Bishop of Winchester. The interior, thus limited and reduced, was fitted up with timber staircases, wainscoting, galleries, high pews, and a "three-decker" pulpit, which answered the double purpose of obscuring the sanctuary and enabling the preacher to command his audience in the galleries.

The barbarous result did not escape the sensitive eye of Mr. A.W. Pugin, the great Gothic revivalist, who gave vent to his indignation in a scathing article in the "Dublin Review." He said:

"It may not be amiss to draw public attention to the atrocities that have lately been perpetrated in the venerable church of St. Saviour's, Southwark. But a few years since it was one of the most perfect second-class cruciform churches in England, and an edifice full of the most interesting associations connected with the ancient history of the Metropolis. The roof was first stripped off its massive and solemn nave; in this state it was left a considerable time, exposed to all the injuries of wet and weather; at length it was condemned to be pulled down, and in place of one of the finest specimens of ecclesiastical architecture left in London—with massive walls and pillars, deeply moulded arches, a most interesting south porch, and a splendid western doorway—we have as vile a preaching-place ... as ever disgraced the nineteenth century.

"It is bad enough to see such an erection spring up at all, but when a venerable building is demolished to make way for it, the case is quite intolerable. Will it be believed that, under the centre tower, in the transepts of this once most beauteous church, staircases on stilts have been set up, exactly resembling those by which the company ascend to a booth or race-course?... Nothing but the preaching-house system could have brought such utter desolation on a stately church; in fact, the abomination is so great that it must be seen to be credited."

Strange as it may appear, the seating accommodation under this arrangement was even greater than it is at present, and the congregations at the Sunday services were almost as large as they are to-day. It would be quite wrong, therefore, to suppose that no religious work was going on in the parish. But beyond the parishioners, and the few antiquaries who visited the church from time to time, it was scarcely known to the outside world, except when the bells rang out the old year on the 31st of December, or when a dismal light in the windows proclaimed the Christmas distribution of bread, coals, and blankets to the poor of the neighbourhood.

It was impossible, however, that an edifice with the history and associations of St. Saviour's, should escape the religious and artistic revival of which the Oxford movement was the cause or the outcome; and the restoration of this fine church to its original beauty, and more than its original usefulness, has followed almost as a matter of course. The scheme for its restoration, although in the air for some time previously, began to take a definite shape in 1877, when St. Saviour's, Southwark, with other South London parishes, was transferred from the diocese of Winchester to Rochester. Dr. Anthony Wilson Thorold was appointed to the See of Rochester in the same year, and very soon lent his full energies to the work. In 1889 a meeting of the chief parishioners was summoned to inaugurate the scheme, and a subscription list was at once opened, headed by his Lordship with L1,000. An appeal to the public was immediately issued, and was generously responded to by great and small. Among the larger donations may be mentioned the sum of L5,000 from Lord Llangattock, L2,000 from Messrs. Barclay, Perkins and Co., with several gifts of L1,000 each from Sir Frederick Wigan and others. These large amounts were supplemented by the equally acceptable offerings of humbler people, for which collections were made at numerous churches within and without the diocese. Perhaps the most important of these, in a money sense, was that at a Masonic Service, held in the Collegiate Church itself on Ascension Day, which yielded over L2,000. On 3rd November, Bishop Thorold preached at St. Saviour's on behalf of the fund, and in the same month Sir Arthur Blomfield was chosen as architect for the restoration. The miserable structure of 1839 was at once swept away, and on 24th July, 1890, King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, laid the foundation stone of the new nave. It was completed within seven years by Messrs. T.F. Rider and Sons after the design of Sir Arthur Blomfield. Guided throughout by the remains of the old work, and many existing drawings of the ancient nave, as a whole, and in its separate details, the architect has succeeded in a practical reproduction of the original building.[12] The erection, with other reparatory work, was accomplished at a cost of over L40,000; but he who had initiated it was not spared to witness its completion. Shortly after its commencement, Bishop Thorold was transferred from Rochester to Winchester, and died in the summer of 1895.

His successor in the See of Rochester, Dr. Randall Thomas Davidson (appointed in 1891), did not allow the work to flag under his administration, which came to an end with the death of Dr. Thorold in 1895. The episcopal changes then made resulted in the translation of Dr. Davidson to the See of Winchester, and the appointment of Dr. Edward Stuart Talbot to Rochester. By a happy coincidence, the parish church at Leeds, from which he was transferred, bore the same dedication as that of the Collegiate Church whose completion it was his good fortune to celebrate.

On Tuesday, 16th February, 1897, the building was reopened after restoration, and reinstated in its position as a Collegiate Church, with the added dignity of a pro-Cathedral, in anticipation of its becoming the Cathedral Church of the new diocese of Southwark already in view.

The Collegiate Chapter was formed by Statutes promulgated by the Bishop of Rochester in February, 1897. The following were the members of that body immediately before the changes consequent on the formation of the new diocese:


The Lord Bishop of Rochester, the Rt. Rev. Edward Stuart Talbot.


The Lord Bishop of Southwark, the Rt. Rev. Huyshe Yeatman-Biggs.


Rev. William Thompson, D.D. Chancellor. The Archdeacon of Southwark (Ven. S.M. Taylor, M.A.) Precentor. Rev. R. Rhodes Bristow, M.A. Canon Missioner. Rev. Allen Edwards, M.A.

Lay Members of the Chapter:

Sir Frederick Wigan, Bart. Treasurer. W.A. Bell, Esq. Assistant Treasurer. J.T. Scriven, Esq. The Warden of the Great Account. George Newton, Esq. The Rector's Warden.

Other Officers:

Rev. W.A. Chaplin, M.A., Mus. Bac. Succentor and Sacrist. A. Madeley Richardson, Esq., M.A., Mus. Doc., Oxon. Organist and Director of the Choir. Rev. J.H. Greig, M.A. Librarian. A.W. Dodwell Moore, Esq. Chapter Clerk. Mr. Hutching and Mr. Spice. Vergers. Mr. Coombes. Chapter House Verger.

The Collegiate Church and Chapter, being dependent on voluntary contributions for their maintenance, a fund was raised which assured a sum of about L2,000 per annum for all purposes for five years. As that period has already expired, a like sum has again to be secured. It may be added that this fund does not suffice to meet the expenses incurred by the daily choral Evensong, which was started in June, 1899. The contributions received for this purpose ("The Daily Choral Service Fund") have hitherto been just sufficient, and it is hoped that by help from a somewhat wider circle of those interested in the efficiency of the Collegiate Church, this service, which has been increasingly appreciated, will not have to be discontinued. The Treasurers are the Bishop of Southwark and the Precentor.

A Collegiate House has also been purchased, in which the unmarried members of the Chapter may reside as well as the Collegiate body. The latter consists of clergy in Priest's Orders, who undertake to place themselves at the disposal of the Bishop for work in connection with the diocese or Collegiate Church.

A valuable addition has been made to the Collegiate buildings in view of the elevation of the church to the rank of a cathedral. The old church of St. Thomas, adjoining the Collegiate House, which would have been pulled down, has been saved and turned into a Chapter House. It serves for diocesan meetings, and will hold about 400 people. It is connected by a corridor with the Foster Hall of the Collegiate House, and thus forms a convenient series of rooms for large or small conferences. It is a plain red brick building, with stone dressings, at the west end of which is a three-storied tower of the same materials. The ground floor of the tower forms the porch. Entering by this way we find ourselves in a lofty oblong hall, about 60 feet by 30, with a gallery on the north and west, and the altar-piece before us at the east end, shut in by a wooden partition, in front of which stand two chairs—one for the Bishop, the other for his Suffragan. The history of the present building dates from 1702, when it was erected on a monastic foundation, the funds being provided by a grant of L3,000—out of the coal dues, pursuant to a Statute of William and Mary, the Governors of St. Thomas's Hospital providing the balance. The date is given on the central panel of the old pulpit, which is preserved, in reduced form, as a reading desk. Both this and the altar-piece are made of oak. The altar-piece is rather a fine specimen of wood-carving in the Corinthian style, with the usual tables for the Creed, etc. (now blank) between two pilasters, surmounted by the arms of George I. The old pews were demolished, as no longer required, when the church was transformed into a Chapter House, but the fine grained oak of which they were made was turned to account for doors and panelling. Below all this there is a crypt, of much earlier date, which now answers the purpose of a refreshment department on special occasions.

Behind the eastern wall a smaller hall has been erected between the Chapter House and the adjacent Collegiate House. This serves the double purpose of a vestibule and a place for smaller gatherings. The generous donor wishes to remain anonymous, but is partially revealed in a tablet over the fireplace, which says:

"As a Thank-offering for many blessings during a long life, a merchant of the City of London constructed this Meeting Hall, and munificently contributed to the purchase of the Collegiate House of St. Saviour, Southwark, Sep 4, 1898," surmounted by his arms and the legend "Watch and be ready."

A library, already consisting of several hundred volumes, is being formed in the Chapter House, for the use of the clergy and licensed Readers of the diocese—in addition to the Collegiate Library proper, which at present is kept in the same place.

With all its advantages, the present Chapter House is acknowledged to be an unworthy representative of the original, as being at an inconvenient distance from the Cathedral, and out of character with it in design. Unfortunately no trace of the old house, or of its exact site, is left to us. The Cloisters and the College, or Priory, are known to have been on the north, the Prior's residence at the north-west angle of the Cloisters, and the Refectory at the north-east end. The whole formed a splendid group of buildings and covered a large area, bounded on the north by the Thames; on the south by the church and churchyard; on the east by the "Bishop's Chapel," with a wall beyond it (at about the distance of the present roadway); and on the west by a small creek (St. Saviour's dock), beyond which lay the Bishop of Winchester's palace and garden.

By an instrument dated 15th July, 1545, the whole of the Priory lands were made over to Sir Anthony Browne, Knt., in the following comprehensive terms: "Totum situm septum circuitum ambitum et precinctum nuper Monasterii sive Prioratus beate Mariae Overey in Com. Surr."

The work of demolition dates from that time, and the old buildings have gradually disappeared to make way for the modern wharves and warehouses which have since occupied the ground. The finishing strokes were put to the destruction during the first half of 1835, when Mr. E.J. Carlos, the archaeologist, visited the ruins, and describes them as then showing "scarcely one stone upon another." They had previously been visited by another antiquary (Mr. John Carter) in 1797 and 1808, when there was a little more to be seen. Both gentlemen gave their experience in the pages of the "Gentleman's Magazine," with a conjectural description of the group of buildings as it had been, contrasted with the desolation they then witnessed. (See the "Gentleman's Magazine" for 1808 and 1835.)


[1] See a paper read before the Society of Antiquaries, in 1833, by Mr. A.J. Kempe.

[2] Burnham-Overy, in Norfolk, and Barton-Overy, in Leicestershire, show that the suffix is not peculiar to St. Mary's, Southwark.

[3] It may be well to explain that a "Collegiate Church" takes its name from the Collegium, or collected body of priests, attached to it, who were called "Secular Canons" in distinction from the "Regular Canons" of a monastery. The latter were monks who had been admitted to Holy Orders, but still continued in obedience to the rule (regulus) of the foundation to which they belonged. The Seculars were more or less like our parochial clergy in that they were subject to no such regulation, lived and moved without restraint among the people, and in early days were not infrequently married. Until the time of Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085), the celibacy of the extra-monastic clergy was not at all generally insisted on. Even after the twelfth century, when greater strictness had been enforced by the first and second Lateran Councils, the marriage of the secular clergy was frequently connived at by their superiors, who even tolerated a system of concubinage which they were unable to prevent—propter duritiem cordis—by which a law of nature was provided for, in defiance of the law ecclesiastical. The question was finally settled by the Council of Trent in 1563, since when the celibate rule has generally been strictly observed in the Roman Church. The absence of such a rule in the Church of England is, of course, due to the Reformation.

With very few exceptions the English "Colleges" were suppressed by an Act of 1545. The name seems to have clung to St. Saviour's through all its subsequent changes, rather by old association than as having any practical value, till the collegiate character, as well as the title, was formally restored to it in 1897 by Dr. Talbot, then Bishop of Rochester.

[4] The dedication of the hospital was altered to "St. Thomas-the-Apostle," in 1540, when the official title of the church was changed to St. Saviour. To make way for the line of railway between London Bridge and Charing Cross, a wing of the hospital had to be pulled down, and the whole was transferred to the Albert Embankment, where the new buildings were opened by Her late Majesty Queen Victoria in 1871.

[5] In 1900 the number of churchwardens was reduced to five, of whom two only discharge ecclesiastical duties.

[6] That the vestrymen were not indifferent to creature comforts is shown by an entry in their records for 5th April, 1569, from which it appears that it was their wont to eat a calf's head pie in the vestry in celebration of Easter. The luxury was supplemented in 1600-1607 by the gift of a buck and 20s. from Sir Edward Dyer, to provide an entertainment for the vestrymen and their wives at the same season. On the other hand, they were not allowed to have it all their own way, for a resolution of 25th April, 1569, prohibits more than one of them from speaking at once, under a penalty of 4d., and imposes a fine of 2s. 6d. for irreverent behaviour in the vestry. They were also required to wear their gowns in the vestry, and to attend the funeral of any of their confreres, or their wives (if desired), under a penalty of 4d. It is fair to add that they were alive to their responsibilities as they understood them, e.g., on 3rd March, 1571, they gave the clerk warning, and appointed another in his place who was "a good bass and tenor," at a salary of L1 6s. 8d., "that the choir might be better served."

[7] The viscera of his successor, Bishop Horne, are also said to have been buried at St. Mary's in 1579.

[8] We have a striking illustration of the joint pastorate at the same period, when the judicious Hooker was Master of the Temple, and Mr. Travers the Lecturer. The result was that "the forenoon sermon spake Canterbury, and the afternoon Geneva."—Walton's "Life of Hooker."

Another instance of this difference of opinion comes before us at St. Saviour's itself. Dr. Thomas Sutton, who was appointed Chaplain there in 1615, was an ardent denouncer of plays and players, of whose iniquities he was constantly reminded by the Globe and other theatres in the neighbourhood. His superior, Dr. Lancelot Andrewes, on the other hand, does not scruple to draw freely on the theatre for his illustrations. See for example Bishop Andrewes' sermon on St. Matt. vii, 6, preached before James I on Ash Wednesday, 1622.

[9] It may be mentioned, as throwing some light on the above, that the Bankside had acquired an evil reputation through the brothels and other iniquities tolerated in that quarter, and more or less recognised in the Acts of Parliament for their regulation. The north side of a church was in the Middle Ages usually appropriated to women, as inferior to the south, which was reserved for the opposite sex. The north side of the churchyard was used for the burial of ordinary people, a fact which explains St. Swithun's humility in choosing it for his own resting-place.

[10] His words are these: "Supposing Hollar's and other views of the church (in which buttresses at the angles of the tower are shown) to be correct, the buttresses as well as the pinnacles were then removed."

[11] The space was eventually left at 130 feet, as it now stands.

[12] Mr. Dollman, who probably knew more about the ancient fabric than any living man, was heard to express his regret that his own great age prevented his active co-operation, but he was delighted that the work of restoration had fallen to such competent hands.



At the present day St. Saviour's Cathedral is most unfortunate in its surroundings, and cannot be seen as a whole from any point, near or distant. Hemmed in as the church is by London Bridge on the east, the Borough Market and railway arches on the south, and by tall warehouses on the other sides, the confined space in which it stands is a decided hindrance to the near perspective, while the surrounding buildings shut off the view from a distance in all directions.[13]

The railway line from Cannon Street commands a fairly good prospect from the south-west, as it passes the church in its course. A closer prospect is to be obtained from the London Bridge approach which takes in the Lady Chapel, the east and south sides of the choir, the tower and south transept. A few yards further up the slope we, of course, lose the south aspect, but get a fair view, from the north-east corner, of part of the east front and the north transept, including the new Harvard window in the chapel beneath it. If we descend the short flight of steps at the foot of the bridge, and take up a position in the south-east corner of the open ground outside the church railings, we get a fairly good view of the south side from the Lady Chapel to the south-west porch, but lose sight of much of the east end, and therefore of one of the most characteristic external features.

The church lies in a general east and west direction, and is cruciform in plan, consisting of a nave, north and south transepts, a central tower, and choir, beyond which is the retro-choir, or so-called Lady Chapel. The nave and choir have aisles, but the transepts have not. While strict orientation has been secured in the main building, it will be noticed that the chancel is slightly deflected towards the south, in supposed mystic allusion to the drooping head of the Saviour upon the Cross, a piece of symbolism very frequent in Gothic churches, and here rendered peculiarly appropriate by the dedication.[14]

Starting our perambulation at the East End, it will be noticed that the so-called Lady Chapel is actually an enlargement of the choir, such as we find on a much grander scale at Durham or Fountains, and may be compared to the "Presbytery" at Chichester, from which the Lady Chapel projects, or to the "New Building" at Peterborough Cathedral. This addition was made to the church by Peter de Rupibus in the thirteenth century, as a retro-choir or ambulatory. It was carefully restored by Mr. George Gwilt, in 1832, from much external mutilation to something like its original state. The eastern side consists of four bays, divided by buttresses, and surmounted by pointed gables, with ornamental crosses on the apices. In each of the gables there is a triplet of narrow lancet windows, which light the space between the internal vault and the roof. They have sculptured heads in the moulding above the central light in each triplet. The bays below are lighted by a similar series of larger windows of simpler construction, the moulding of the sides being carried over the lancet points in unbroken continuity. In the north-east corner there is a short hexagonal stair turret, but the opposite corner is simply supported by ordinary buttresses. The walls are made up of rubble and flints, with ashlar dressing, as is supposed to have been the case throughout the original church, where, however, the flints are said to have been squared. In the reign of Edward III, a small Lady Chapel was built against the east end of this retro-choir: it projected from the second bay from the south, where the window was removed to connect it with the church. After the interment of Bishop Andrewes within it, this little appendage became popularly known as the "Bishop's Chapel." It was demolished in 1830, on the ground of its supposed interference with the approach to the new London Bridge; but as it only projected thirty-four feet (a distance which would have placed it well within the present churchyard railing) its destruction seems to have been an unnecessary act of vandalism. The retro-choir itself narrowly escaped sharing its fate, but was fortunately spared, and the tomb of Bishop Andrewes was removed to its present position immediately behind the high altar. The true Lady Chapel being destroyed, the dedication seems to have been popularly transferred to the structure so closely associated with it, and most people concerned are now very unwilling to part with the familiar name.[15]

Above the Lady Chapel, as it is now called, we have a view of the East End of the Choir, as restored by Mr. Gwilt at the same time. This part of the church having been considerably altered by Bishop Fox, in or about the year 1520, the restoring architect, though anxious to go back to the thirteenth century work, had scarcely any data to guide him to its reproduction. The result was the more or less original elevation that we now see. It consists of a three-light lancet window at the east end of the choir, with a small circular window, with seven cusps, in the gable above, surmounted by a cross, and a stair-turret, terminating in an octagonal pinnacle at each end of the elevation.[16]

The pitch of Mr. Gwilt's gable was below that of its predecessor; but with this exception (the responsibility for which lies rather with the building committee than with him) his work must be considered very satisfactory. His body now lies at rest in the family vault in the south-east corner outside his work, and he is commemorated in a window within, as well as in a marble tablet behind the altar-screen.

The South side of the Lady Chapel contains a central window of three lights and geometrical tracery, with a lancet window on the right and left. The mouldings of these side windows are not exactly alike, that on the right (of the spectator) being extremely plain, while the other is supported by slender shafts, terminating in delicate floral capitals.

This aspect of the chapel was completely hidden by the parish church of St. Mary Magdalene Overy, erected against it in the thirteenth century, and destroyed in 1822, after having undergone many alterations. The choir entrance, at the intersection of the choir and south transept, is not remarkable, and need not detain us.

The South Transept, which has a public doorway on its eastern side, was erected, with its companion on the north, in the first half of the fourteenth century (circa 1300-1350) in the Decorated style of that period. It was rebuilt by Cardinal Beaufort in the following century, which accounts for certain architectural differences between the two transepts, chiefly noticeable in the windows and in the interior walls. The front of this transept was repaired in brick in 1735, and the restoration of both was taken in hand by Mr. Wallace in 1830. At the earlier date the original window in the south elevation was "enlarged and beautified," which means that the tracery was taken out, and a cheap substitute inserted, without tracery, and with plain mullions instead of the original elaborate lights. Mr. Wallace improved upon this feeble design by introducing another window, on a pattern partly of his own invention, partly based on a circular window in the adjacent Winchester Palace, which is said to have been singularly ill adapted for stained glass.

When the restoration was undertaken by Mr. Wallace, enough of the old work remained to show that the original design had a high-pitched roof, with a gable recessed behind a straight parapet, and that the large window, though all cusping and tracery had disappeared, was similar, in its main divisions, to that which Sir Arthur Blomfield has inserted. Mr. Wallace's restorations, here and elsewhere, were made quite independently of the suggestions to be found in the ancient work, which Sir Arthur was before all things anxious to reproduce. In the present window we have a practical reproduction of the original, as far as its features could be ascertained. It consists of five lights, combining the earlier geometrical with the later flowing tracery of the Decorated period, and an element of Perpendicular.

Below the transoms there is a series of unglazed panels, which have not escaped criticism as spoiling the proportions of the window; but most people are satisfied with them in the interior, where the wall arcading at once explains the necessity, and gives effect to the whole. A simple three-light window has been placed in the gable above. The windows on the east and west sides of this transept, though renovated by Sir Arthur Blomfield, date from the time of Edward III, as Mr. Wallace did not interfere with them beyond shortening the length of one on the east. Below the great window in the south elevation there had formerly been an entrance to this transept, to which a wooden porch was added. These are now swept away, and the entrance has been transferred to the eastern side, formerly blocked up by the church of St. Mary Magdalene. Mr. Wallace had changed the design of the buttresses, and affixed pinnacles to them, on the authority of certain old engravings which represent them as existing at an earlier period. It may be said, however, that the old pictures differ very much from each other in such details, and cannot be relied on for accuracy. Sometimes, no doubt, though almost contemporaneous, they represent alterations actually made at the church within a short time of one another; but the discrepancies between them are just as likely to be due to the caprices of individual engravers. On the other hand, it is fair to them to remember the innovations, for better or worse, which the vestry and churchwardens thought it right to make at frequent intervals. Some of them occur in the history of this very transept. For instance, the original gable was removed early in the eighteenth century, and a covering substituted, of a kind which Mr. Dollman humorously describes as "the pleasing novelty of a hipped roof." Again, in 1679 a sundial was placed over the central window, to give way in 1735 to an ingenious combination of sundial and clock, for which a triangular arrangement, presenting a clock of two faces, was substituted four years later. See illustration, p. 27. All these may now be regarded as among the things that have never been, except in the historical lessons they contain.

The Tower, at the intersection of the nave and transepts, is 35 ft. square externally, and rises to the height of 129 ft. 6 in., exclusive of the pinnacles, which stand 34 ft. higher. The exterior walls throughout consist of the intermixture of flint and stone, characteristic of the rest of the church, except the transepts, which are of Bath stone. It has been stated that the tower was originally supported at the angles by buttresses, but it is not at all certain that this was the case, and it would have been an unusual and dangerous experiment to remove them, unless the tower had been altogether rebuilt. That the old builders did not shrink from such daring alterations, however, is proved by their having removed the flying buttresses from the original nave, which led to the collapse of the roof in 1469. In a bird's-eye view of Southwark, including St. Saviour's Church 'as it appeared' in 1543, the buttresses are absent. In an engraving by Hollar (usually accurate), dated 1647, the buttresses are shown. The present appearance of the tower is against the theory, as there is next to nothing for the buttresses to rest on; but it is probable that the angles were altered at the same time, and Mr. Dollman has given his weight to the conjecture, apparently relying on Hollar's correctness, in preference to less known engravers. The first stage of the tower, just visible above the roof, was erected at the same time as the adjoining transepts. The two upper stages are attributed to Bishop Fox (circa 1520), and are in the Perpendicular style of his date. The uppermost stage is chamfered at the quoins, leaving a small off-set at the level of the next. Each story contains two windows of two lights, transomed, the whole terminating in an embattled parapet, with crocketed pinnacles at the corners, surmounted by vanes. These were put up by Mr. Gwilt in 1818, in place of the old vanes, dated 1689, the pattern of which was slightly different. If the early engravings are to be trusted, Mr. Gwilt also made a considerable alteration in the design of the pinnacles at the same time. The two rooms within the tower are reserved for the ringers and the peal of twelve bells which the church has possessed since 1735.[17]

The South side of the Nave brings us to Sir Arthur Blomfield's chief restoration, or rather rebuilding, of 1890-1897.

As explained in the introductory chapter, the nave had been walled off from the eastern portion of the church and allowed to drop into ruinous neglect from 1831 till 1839, when a flimsy substitute was begun. The foundation stone was laid by Dr. Sumner, then Bishop of Winchester. The fragile nature of this work may be inferred from the fact that it was finished in the following year, and as the floor was raised seven and a half feet above the old level it was impossible to use the new nave in connection with the choir and transepts.

Guided by the ground plan of the thirteenth-century nave, showing the position of the columns of the arcade, and the outer walls generally, as revealed when the modern brickwork was removed, Sir Arthur has succeeded in giving us a practical reproduction of the original, both in character and material.[18] It will be no disparagement to his admirable work to say that it was made more easy by the labours of his predecessors, Mr. Gwilt and Mr. Dollman, and especially by the careful plans and drawings which the latter gentleman left behind him after fourteen years' patient study of the fabric. The south elevation exhibits seven bays, divided and supported by flying buttresses, each bay of the clerestory being lighted by a plain lancet window.

The flying buttresses had been removed from the old nave, with disastrous consequences to the original roof, as already stated. They are now replaced, and at once give strength and effect to the elevation, besides bringing it into harmony with the architecture of the choir, where the flying buttresses were never removed. The wall spaces in the aisle below are occupied by five lancet windows, matching those in the clerestory, except in the bay next the transept, where there is a beautiful window of three lights. Before describing it, the interesting fact may be mentioned that the window in the westernmost bay of this aisle had been concealed and protected, while its neighbours were destroyed, through having a small wooden house, or shed, built up against it. The single window thus accidentally preserved, was taken as a model for the new ones throughout the aisle and clerestory, with the exception of the larger aisle window just referred to. This, though also entirely rebuilt, is a modified reproduction of that which filled the same space in the time of Edward II—a fine example of the Decorated style. Divided by sub-arcuation into three lights, surmounted by circles of quatrefoil tracery in the spandrels of the arches, and supported by composite shafts, with moulded bases and foliated capitals, this elegant window had been allowed to drop into a ruin. Drawings of it had fortunately been taken before it was too late, and the present work gives us the leading features, and practically the details, of the original.

The most conspicuous object in the whole of this elevation is the Doorway to the south-west, which is the principal entrance to the Cathedral. In all probability the door was placed in this position when the Norman nave was built by Bishop Giffard (circa 1106); but its character was altered by Peter de Rupibus, a century later, to bring it into harmony with the rest of his Early English work, when he remodelled the nave in that style.

The porch that we now have agrees in its main features with the drawings taken of the earlier one before it was destroyed. A deeply recessed and acutely pointed arch is divided into two by a central shaft, with moulded base and foliaged capital. The jambs contain five shafts on each side, which differ from that in the centre, in that they are of Purbeck marble, and banded, in pleasing contrast to the plain stone of their own bases and capitals, and of the (unbanded) central shaft. In the tympanum of the double doorway thus formed, there is a pointed arcading, consisting of a central arch and two smaller arches on either side. The deep soffit of the arch in which this elegant arcading is enclosed, is adorned with a series of quatrefoil panels.

From the remains of a bracket discovered in the ruins of the former arcading, it is obvious that the central space was intended for a statue. We are not left to mere conjecture on this point, but have documentary evidence to confirm it, which shows that the recess held a seated figure of the Blessed Virgin, the patroness of the church.[19] The arch is now vacant, though supplied with a suggestive pedestal; and there is one other detail in which the restorer appears to have departed from his original, viz., in not reproducing the small clusters of foliage that were distributed along the hollows of the mouldings.

The long gargoyles projecting horizontally on either side of the roof, and the floriated cross on the apex, are worth notice. The modern restoration is indicated by a cross (patee) carved on the central buttress on this side of the Cathedral, which marks the stone laid by King Edward VII on 24th July, 1900, when His Majesty was Prince of Wales.

The West Front is chiefly remarkable as presenting a dead wall where we usually expect to find the grand entrance. It is a debated question among antiquaries and architects whether the first Norman church ever had a doorway in this front; and the question has not got beyond conjecture as to the Early English church which superseded it in the thirteenth century. It is certain, however, that a rich and elaborate entrance, deeply recessed, was inserted here in the Perpendicular age (sixteenth century), about the same date that the upper stages of the tower were set up, either for the first time, or in place of an earlier doorway.[20]

The same uncertainty attends the history of the great west window; all traces of the original having disappeared when a window of the Perpendicular style was introduced in agreement with the doorway below. Before the alterations, or mutilations, of the seventeenth century, this window was of six lights transomed, with cinquefoil tracery at the heads of the lower (and probably also of the upper) lights, as inferred from the fragments which survived its mutilation.[21]

In the absence of data as to the Early English facade, the architect for the restoration has been thrown to a large extent upon his own resources. The question of the doorway he has answered in the negative. The window he has given us consists of three lancet lights corresponding with those at the east end, but considerably longer, with an unglazed panel of similar design, on either side, diminishing in height from the central light outwards in harmony with the lines of the roof. The north and south ends of the facade are flanked by stair-turrets, square in their lower portion, rising into octagons, and surmounted by sharply pointed roofs. To relieve the monotony of the horizontalism, a simple arcading has been inserted in the wall spaces above the central window, and above the aisle windows (plain lancets) on the right and left. Independently of the question of precedent, the absence of a doorway in this front is quite intelligible at the present day, when the church wall almost touches the narrow public pavement, and the close street of lofty business houses allows no room for perspective, or even convenient access.

The North Side of the nave corresponds with the south, each bay containing a lancet window in the clerestory. The spaces in the aisle below are similarly lighted, except in one bay towards the east, where Gower's monument in the interior necessitates a shorter window, which is here made a double lancet. At the extreme eastern end of this side of the nave we come to a most interesting relic in the remains of the Norman Doorway (twelfth century), which had been the Prior's entrance from the cloisters. Shut in and completely hidden by brickwork, it was discovered in 1829 in a shocking state of mutilation, but fortunately in situ. It was further mutilated, and bricked up again during the building operations of 1839, to be again revealed when the rubbish of that date was cleared away for the new nave, where the fragments are now carefully preserved in the wall. The archivolt is no more, all that we have being some fragments of the jambs on which it rested, one of which, on the east side (on the returned face), shows two old consecration crosses. In its perfect state this fine specimen of late Norman work is known to have consisted of three orders of shafts (banded) in the jambs, with moulded bases and sculptured capitals, the bold archivolt also displaying three orders.

Of these the outermost was of leaf ornament, the second zigzag, and the third a conventional floral design, suggesting a combination of the trefoil and Greek honeysuckle. The zigzag moulding forming the innermost order was continuous along the jambs and arch. Close to this doorway, on its eastern side, there is a smaller, but equally interesting, relic in the remains of a Holy-water Stoup. It is fixed in a large and deep recess, with an angular arch above it, too dilapidated to afford a hint as to the original moulding, which we can only assume was not unworthy of the rich doorway by its side.

A few yards westwards we are reminded of the antiquity of the site by a mass of Roman tiles, arranged herring-bone fashion, as if they had been used in the wall of some earlier (probably Saxon) building on the spot. They are now tightly packed in a case, exactly as they were discovered, for their better protection against relic hunters, whose ideas of property, when it happens to be of a portable kind, are a constant source of anxiety to the vergers.

Our progress along the north wall is here interrupted by the projecting transept, which touches the wooden fence separating the Cathedral from private property. Neither the north end of this transept, nor the north side of the "Lady Chapel," is to be seen from the exterior. It may be mentioned, however, that the windows on the east and west sides of the north transept are extremely simple compared with that in the end of the same transept or with those in the south arm; and that the north side of the "Lady Chapel" differs slightly from the south in the disposition of the windows. Here the largest (a fine example of modern work) is in the easternmost bay, the other two bays being lighted by simple lancets, whereas on the opposite side the largest window occupies the central bay, with a lancet in the bays on either side of it.

Before entering the church, it may be well to walk once more along the east front to see the outside of the new Harvard window in the chapel below the north transept, which stands out in marked contrast to the older work around it. It may also be noticed that while the windows in the choir clerestory are all plain lancets, like those in the restored nave, there is a considerable difference in the glazing. In the choir we have an ornamental pattern of Mr. Gwilt's invention. In the nave Sir Arthur Blomfield has preferred small square panes of glass, as more in character with the lancet type of window, and the other Early English work, which he has so well reproduced.


[13] There is a further disadvantage, of a more material kind, in the encroachments. The smoke and soot from passing trains on one side, and the dust from a coffee-roasting establishment on the other, are having a sufficiently obvious effect on the fabric, as well as on the surrounding grass-plats. The latter require frequent renewal in consequence.

[14] Perhaps the deflection is more frequently towards the north.

[15] A converse instance of mistaken nomenclature occurs at Westminster Abbey, where the Lady Chapel is commonly called after Henry VII, who began its erection, in place of the earlier chapel, and is buried in it.

In an inventory of 1538 the "Bishop's Chapel" at St. Saviour's is styled "the little Chapel of our Lady," which perhaps indicates that there was an altar to the Virgin in the retro-choir. Two Lady Chapels in one church are not unknown, as, e.g., at Canterbury Cathedral, where there was one in the north-west transept, now called "the Dean's Chapel," and another in the crypt under the high altar.

A case more directly to the point may be quoted from Barnwell Priory, where the Lady Chapel is known to have occupied a similar position to the retro-choir at Southwark, with a "little Lady Chapel" appended to it. (Vide "The Observances in use at the Augustinian Priory of Barnwell," by J. Willis Clark, and the accompanying plans.)

[16] The pinnacle at the south end was removed a few years ago to prevent its falling.

[17] The original number of bells, in 1424, was seven, and their names were Nicholas, Vincent, St. Lawrence, Anna Maria, Stephen, Maria, Augustine. In the same year the bells were increased in weight and one more added to the number. The names were then changed, and became Christ, St. John-the-Evangelist, All Saints', Gabriel, St. Lawrence, Augustine, Mary, St. Trinity. They were recast, with 64 cwt. of fresh metal, in 1735, when the peal was brought up to its present number. More recently the two largest of the treble bells (D# and C#) were slightly reduced in weight.

[18] The builders of 1839 fortunately contented themselves with building round the bases of the piers, which they left on the old foundation.

[19] E.g., in the will of Joan de Cobham, dated 1369, the testatrix expresses her wish to be buried before the door of St. Mary Overie, "where the image of the Blessed Virgin sitteth on high." It will be noticed that this is the principal feature in the Priory seal.

[20] Drawings of the Perpendicular doorway are given by Moss and Nightingale (1817-1818), and by F.T. Dollman (1881). The ruins of the old nave, including this fine doorway, were finally removed towards the end of 1838, to make way for the pure Gothic structure (as it was called in the newspaper descriptions of the day), which was commenced in the following year.

[21] Mr. Dollman holds that the cinquefoil tracery occurred in both divisions, but has omitted it from the upper lights in his drawing of the west elevation, as it appeared before it was finally destroyed.



The Nave was entirely rebuilt by Sir Arthur Blomfield in 1890-1897. Not the least difficult part of the architect's work was the removal of the unsatisfactory structure, of 1839-1840, without destroying the few Norman and Early English features imbedded in the plaster and brickwork, which it was desired to recover as far as possible, and preserve intact and in situ. This has to a great extent been done, thanks to the care with which the debased nave was taken to pieces, every stone that was worth preserving being carefully released from its accretions, measured, and reinstated in its proper place in the new work. Fortunately the earlier nineteenth century builders had not disturbed the bases of the old piers, but had contented themselves with building round them, and when their superstructure was cleared off, enough of the old work remained to show the position of every pier, as well as the lines of the original ground plan. In nearly every part also the old foundations were found satisfactory, though, of course, they were thoroughly tested, and renovation generally applied. The old lines have been adhered to throughout the restoration, and the new nave is a practical reproduction of its Early English predecessor in every detail, with the single exception to be afterwards noticed. This minute adherence to the original includes such intentional irregularities as the unequal distances between the piers and the varying width of the aisles, which not only differ from each other, but are not of the same width throughout in each case.

Ancaster stone has been chiefly employed, except in the roof, where the ribs of the vaulting are of Bath stone, the filling being made up of chalk and firestone.

The nave consists of seven bays on each side, divided by piers, alternately circular and octagonal, like those in the choir, with triple vaulting shafts on the north and south sides (the central shaft in each case being of Purbeck), and a single shaft on the east and west, corresponding with the interior order of the arches. The vaulting shafts are banded. The deeply moulded arches are somewhat loftier and more acutely pointed than those in the choir, placing the triforia on a slightly higher level, but the triforia of nave and choir are alike in that in both cases they consist of four arched openings in each bay. Every bay is walled off from its neighbours on either side, but has an opening at the back into a passage above the aisles, which is continuous throughout nave and choir. In the westernmost bay on either side, the triforium arcade has a wall immediately behind the shafts. In the other bays it is recessed, and open above the level of the aisle vaulting. In these respects the architect has reversed the old arrangement, as in the original nave the two westernmost bays had open triforia, the others simply containing a shallow arcading. This arrangement, taken in conjunction with traces of an incipient tower discovered within the two western bays, seems to show that these bays were intended to form a narthex, or vestibule, to the church, but it does not appear that the tower was ever erected, or that the vestibule ever went beyond the conception. The clerestory is lighted by plain lancet windows, enclosed in an elegant arcading.

Entering the church by the great doorway at the south-west, and looking towards the east, we get a fine perspective of over two hundred feet, including the nave arcading in its three stages, the groined and vaulted roof, and a good view of the choir, terminating in Bishop Fox's fine stone screen, with the three-light window above it.

In both aisles there is an interesting series of modern windows intended to memorialise the great names associated with the Church, the Borough of Southwark, and the history of England—all excellent specimens of the revived art of glass-staining, and all at present designed by Mr. C.E. Kempe. The visitor will find it convenient to begin his examination of the interior at the North Aisle. The window at the extreme west end of this aisle contains a figure of St. Augustine of Hippo, as Patron of the Augustinian Canons, introduced early in the twelfth century, when the Collegiate Church was transformed into a monastery.

The next three windows are at present vacant, but they are already destined for three great names included in the memorial scheme, viz.: Oliver Goldsmith, Dr. Johnson, and Dr. Sacheverell, each of whom has a place in the history of Southwark entitling him to commemoration in the church. Goldsmith once set up as a medical practitioner at Bankside. His friend Dr. Johnson was on friendly terms with the Thrale family, whose successors (Messrs. Barclay, Perkins and Co.) still retain the Doctor's chair on their premises. Dr. Sacheverell was Chaplain at St. Saviour's from 1705 to 1709, and appears to have engaged Johnson's attention, as a preacher, in his childhood.[22]

Beneath the Goldsmith window there is a fine relic in the shape of a late Norman Recess, which has escaped serious mutilation. A segmental arch, surmounted with a simple chamfered moulding with quirks, supported at each end by a column with moulded base and capital, would seem to indicate a seat rather than a tomb, and the date as about the end of the twelfth century. Beneath the Johnson window there is another Norman relic, of about the same date, in the outline of the old Canons' Doorway, formerly connecting the aisle with the cloisters. The extreme plainness of the moulding will be contrasted with the elaborate work in the Prior's entrance further east, on the exterior of the same wall. The next window contains a memorial to Alexander Cruden, compiler of the Scripture Concordance, who died on 1st November, 1770, and was buried in the parish. This window is the gift of Mr. W.H. Francis.

John Bunyan is commemorated in the window beyond it, as having preached and worked in Southwark, and as author of the immortal "Pilgrim's Progress." The cost was defrayed by subscriptions from children of the parish.

The next bay is occupied by a short two-light window (at present plain), and by John Gower's Tomb in the space below. This fine monument was removed to the east side of the south transept during the destructive alterations of the early nineteenth century, but had been worse treated by its friends in 1748, when a large sum was spent on its "embellishment." Its history, combined with that of the Priors who erected it, may be summed up in the opening words of the inscription which was placed in a marble tablet at the back of the tomb to commemorate the embellishment referred to, not without a touch of sarcasm, though, of course, unintentional: "Hoc viri inter inclytos memorandi." Gower died in 1408, eight years after his friend Chaucer. He had been a liberal benefactor to the Church, and founded a chantry in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, where he was eventually buried. The chapel and chantry are no more, but the monument marks the spot, having been restored in 1894 to its first position. It is in the Perpendicular style, and consists of an altar-tomb, with a dado, ornamented by seven panels in front, on which lies the effigy of the poet, surmounted by a canopy of three ogee arches, with an inner order of five cusps, and terminating in crocketed pinnacles. There is a pilaster set angle-wise at each end, banded at the separate divisions of the monument, and also rising into crocketed pinnacles. There are similar pinnacles between the arches of the canopy. Behind the canopy is a screen, divided into open panels of three trefoil-headed lights. The cornice at the top is modern, and the hands and nose of the figure are restorations.

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