Having walked past Southwark Cathedral many, many times I had never been inside. Until yesterday.
Now yesterday just happened to be right in the middle of peak tourist season on one of the hottest days of the summer. Crowds of people were enjoying a leisurely stroll along the south bank of the Thames. Although at this point, the path takes a detour inland along Montague Street and the aptly named Cathedral Street.
If you walk along Montague Street, you could not be criticised for missing Southwark Cathedral since, even though it is a substantial building, the cathedral nestles in amongst a surprising amount of greenery and seems almost overwhelmed by the modern buildings and railway lines that surround it.
Even finding the entrance can be a challenge.
Once inside the original building and having left the modern entrance lobby behind, the building is a magnificent, well preserved oasis of calm in the middle of a sea of chaos.
The interior is simply stunning. Churches like St Pauls, St Peters Basilica in Rome or the Duomo in Milan are spectacular partly because of their size. Southwark is spectacular despite its size.
The cathedral is built on a roughly East – West axis. This lets shafts of light stream in through the stained glass windows along the entire length of the building.
The interior is extremely well kept and crammed with the history of the nearly 1,000 years of the existence of a religious institution on this site. Not to be missed.
…and just to make sure you can sound like a local, it’s pronounced sutherk. That’s suth as in ‘southern’ and erk as in ‘perk’.
For detailed visitor information see: Southwark Cathedral