Southwark Cathedral

1539AD to 1815AD

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852AD - 1212AD
1212AD - 1539AD
1539AD - 1815AD
1815AD - 1907AD
The Present

External photo of west end and retro-choir - click to enlageThe Reformation brought change to the priory church. In 1539 Bartholomew Linsted, the last prior, surrendered the buildings to Henry VIII. He, and the remaining 12 canons received a pension in return. An Act of Parliament made the  church a parish church, of St Saviour, Southwark. During the religious persecution of Protestants under Queen Mary, Bishop Stephen Gardiner of Winchester set up his consistory court in the retro-choir. He sentenced seven men to death for heresy, including John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester and John Rogers of London. A statue of Rogers appears in the altar screen. In 1555 Bishop Gardiner died and the retro-choir was left to fall into disrepair. For a while it was rented out as a bakery and the baker kept pigs in the church. The other monastic buildings were given to Sir Anthony Browne, the King's Master of Horse who built himself a mansion to the north east of the church. Other buildings were used as a Delft pottery and for the manufacture of starch. The kilns where Southwark Delftware was produced can be viewed by visitors in the Archaeological Chamber within Lancelot's Link.

Tired of paying rent for the church to the Crown, the parishioners banded together and bought the church from James I in 1614. They renovated the church and also had the right to appoint their own clergy. St Saviour's was now the parish church of one of London's most colourful areas. The connections with the Elizabethan theatre are reflected by monuments to Edmund Shakespeare, the dramatist's brother, dramatists John Fletcher and Philip Massinger. Half the actors' names which appear on the front page of the Shakespeare First Folio also appear in the church's registers

More repairs occurred in the 18th century and one of the parish's chaplains was the notorious Henry Sacheverell who preached against the Whig government and was deprived of his living only to be re-instated under a Tory administration.

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1999 Diocese of Southwark
Last updated: 06/10/04