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Visit Southwark Cathedral

Home > London > Fun Things To Do
Published March 10th 2011
You don't have to be a believer to appreciate some of London's religious-based offerings.

Located a stone's throw from the Thames, near London Bridge, is the capital's oldest Gothic building, the delightful Southwark Cathedral.

Although the site has been a place of worship for more than 1,000 years, the structure has only served as a cathedral since 1905.

Various extensions and renovations have been made over the years, including in 2000 when a library, education centre and shop, among other things, were added. Overall, though, the look of the main part of the building hasn't changed in hundreds of years.

A relaxing experience can be had by attending a service at the cathedral. These are held five times each day of the week, and everyone is welcome to join. Click here for detailed information about services.

You could also go along to a choral event, with singing backed by the imposing cathedral organ, built at the end of the 19th century. Click here for up-to-date information on cathedral concerts.

Alternatively, simply wander around by yourself and enjoy the cathedral's charming interior, bedecked with monuments commemorating various locals from the area's past.

Be sure to visit the Harvard Chapel, with its pretty stained-glass window. The chapel, located by the north transept, commemorates John Harvard, who was born in Southwark and baptised in the church in 1607.

Harvard eventually emigrated to the United States where he helped fund the college which eventually became Harvard University.

Keep an eye out for the stilted arch as well. If you look carefully, you'll notice that the arch is actually distorted. This is due to the spiral staircase located behind it, which leads to the top of the tower.

Outside you can sit comfortably while away some time in the cathedral's south side churchyard. Enjoy lunch on a sunny day while gazing up at this splendid structure.

Group tours of Southwark Cathedral last around 90 minutes and need to be be arranged in advance. Click here for more information about tours.

The Refectory provides sustenance in the form of light meals, cakes, and drinks, or combine a visit to the cathedral with a trip to nearby Borough Market (Thurs-Sat), which is an attraction in its own right, and full of some amazing food.
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Why? It's a magnificent old building that tends not to get the attention it deserves.
When: 10am to 5pm, though restrictions occasionally apply depending on activities taking place.
Where: Montague Close, City of London SE1 9DA
Cost: Free to loo around. Group tours can be arranged for around 5 per person.
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