The All Hallows Project
Within the Cathedral parish are the remains of a bombed-out church. The one aisle that remained after the War was a functioning church until 1970. The building then became a recording studio until 1990 (it was where Alison Moyet and Depeche Mode amongst others cut their disks). Since then the church has stood unused, though the garden around it has been maintained by the local community.
It is an unused asset in the heart of a fast changing environment.
We have taken the opportunity over the last year to revisit the question of the future of the All Hallows site, working closely with a cross section of the local community, as well as the Cathedral Chapter, with help from the PwC Emerging Leaders team. The vision that has begun to emerge is to see the whole site come back to life, with the church building developing a new identity as a hub for the social and spiritual life of the neighbourhood, and the garden retaining its status as an oasis for local residents and workers.
Having listened to various stakeholders we are now ready to go wider with what is still very much a developing but already exciting vision.
Philip Sturrock, the Chairman of United St Saviour’s Charity, has written this about the vision.
Southwark Cathedral stands at a crossroads. From Roman times to the eighteenth century it was the only crossing of the Thames to the world of the City, and its surroundings were home to tradesman, entrepreneurs and travellers seeking to do business in the capital. With its inns and theatres, it was the capital’s entertainment area, even sometimes its red light district. From Chaucer to Shakespeare, from Borough Market to the Shard, it has been a place where all humanity rubs up against each other.
Southwark Cathedral stands for engagement with this bustling and vital world, and always has. The Augustinian canons who lived in the priory that became in the early twentieth century a Cathedral and Mother church for South London and beyond, founded St Thomas’ Hospital and supported, as did their parishioners, almshouses and schools.
Now it stands geographically at that same crossroads. Bounded on the west by the vibrant South Bank from the Royal Festival Hall, by Tate Modern and the Globe Theatre and to the east by the renascent Borough Market, the Shard and the Mayor’s City Hall. But all is not new and shiny. Move south only a few paces and there is deprivation and homelessness. Human life with all the challenges seen in Shakespeare’s time is very much in evidence in today’s world. So Southwark’s crossroads are spiritual and visionary, as well as physical.
The Cathedral has a vision to engage with this. To challenge the rich and powerful, be they individuals or corporations, to engage with the very real problems evident around us. The Cathedral’s calling is to be the modern Samaritan. It cannot pass by: it must ensure the continuation of its historic structure at the heart of this area, to support boys and girls enhancing our lives with fine and uplifting music and thirdly - and you will hear more of this from the Dean - to reach out into the community, to include all in its social mission. That is the challenge the Dean will put to you and I urge you to respond to it not just financially, though that is important, but with your time and imagination. This crossroad is one we should navigate with enthusiasm.
We want this to model of a different way of doing this work – of growing the life of the place organically – responding to the community and enabling the community, residential and business, to help grow what they want to grow there.