Whilst not featuring in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Musical, Doorkins Magnificat, the Cathedral cat, is popular with many of Southwark Cathedral’s visitors. He is pictured on two exclusive cards and a jigsaw available from their shop.
Situated on the south side of the Thames, near to London Bridge, and in the shadow of The Shard, this is London’s oldest Gothic church building. Built initially as a priory, it subsequent became a parish church, and was elevated to cathedral status in 1905. King James I of Scotland was married here. Thomas Becket preached here. Shakespeare and his fellow actors worshipped here. US university benefactor, John Harvard, was baptized here. Nelson Mandela opened their Millennium complex of buildings on the north side in 2001, and HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 is commemorated in a stained glass window.
There is much for the visitor to discover. 17/18th-century pottery kilns adjacent to its walls, a Mohegan Indian buried in their south churchyard, and memorials to several merchants and servants to Elizabeth I and James I of England (James VI of Scotland). The statues in the High Altar Screen, recall its rich and colourful history.
The awe inspiring architecture, the calm from the noise and bustle of the nearby Borough Market, and the friendliness of its team of Welcomers, all add up to an unexpected gem in the middle of an ever-changing part of London.
On Mondays, except in August and December, there are lunchtime organ recitals, and on Tuesday afternoons, apart from December, you may catch an afternoon music recital, often given by music students from London schools and colleges.
The Cathedral Refectory is open daily for breakfasts, coffees, lunches, and afternoon teas.
There is no admission charge for individual visitors to the Cathedral, although donations are always appreciated. Mandatory charges apply for groups who are strongly encouraged to pre-book their visits. Photography is permitted, subject to the purchase of a £2.50 permit.
There are five daily acts of worship, to which all are welcome to attend.