Southwark Cathedral, London

Southwark Cathedral, London

Known as "suth-uck" in pronunciation, this stands as London's oldest Gothic church, with certain sections tracing their origins back to the 12th century. Despite its historical significance, it remains somewhat tucked away from the usual tourist path, even though it houses notable memorials, including a late-13th-century wooden effigy of a knight. Additionally, it hosts a concert program featuring complimentary half-hour organ recitals at 1:20pm every Monday (except for August and December) and classical music performances at 3:15pm every Tuesday during the school year.

Originally established as a priory, Southwark later served as a palace church under Henry VIII until it was purchased by merchant parishioners in 1611. It achieved cathedral status in 1905, but endured significant damage during the London Blitz of 1941. Germany dropped an estimated 1,600 explosive bombs on this site during the war, and remnants of shrapnel damage are still visible on its exterior.

Be sure to seek out the vibrant 15th-century roof bosses (intricate ornamental wood carvings), as well as the brightly refurbished tomb of John Gower, who served as the poet laureate to Richard II and was a friend of Chaucer. Another notable feature is the Harvard Chapel, where John Harvard, a local butcher's son who later founded the American university, was baptized in 1607. In the south aisle, you'll find a memorial to Shakespeare, who worshipped here, and above it, there's a stained-glass window depicting characters from his plays. The churchyard has been transformed into a herb garden, and the charming Millennium Courtyard leads to the riverside.

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Southwark Cathedral on Map

Sight Name: Southwark Cathedral
Sight Location: London, England (See walking tours in London)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

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