Area 3 (Choir)
The Choir is a fine example of Early English work. There are five bays and the piers, alternately circular and octagonal, attach to triple vaulting shafts.
The Pulpit, Stalls, and Bishop's throne, or 'cathedra', all date from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The High Altar
The Great Screen
This magnificent screen was erected by Bishop Fox of Winchester in 1520. Although the general appearance of the screen, with three broad rich bands of carvings and statuary, is that of the original, most of the detail is from later periods.
Whether all the original statues were ever installed is uncertain, as the screen was completed within a decade of the Reformation when such statues were forbidden. The small carvings of the Lamb of God and the pelican (a badge of Bishop Fox) immediately above the rows of angels are probably original, as are some of the bases of the niches. The small carvings in the corners of the two doorways, showing hunting scenes, may also be original.
In 1703 the screen was concealed by a painted wooden screen with the Lord's Prayer, Creed, the Ten Commandments, a dove descending with a group of cherubs 'heads' and topped with flaming urns.
This screen was removed in 1833, and the niches restored and three rows of carved angels added.
The statues were added from 1905 onwards and depict people with an historical connection to Southwark.
In 1930, the lower portion was gilded and a new panel showing the Greek and Latin Fathers of the Church was added. This was inspired by a panel in St Mark's, Venice.
The statues from left to right of the upper row are:
- Bishop Thorold of Rochester, when Southwark was transferred to that diocese in the late 1800’s.
- Saint Olaf, King of Norway who was converted to Christianity, then protected Londoners from the Danes by pulling down London Bridge. St Olaf’s Church was nearby, on the site now occupied by Olaf House, part of the private London Bridge Hospital.
- Bishop William of Wykeham of Winchester who lived at Winchester Palace nearby.
- Cardinal Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester who rebuilt the South Transept after a fire, in the 1400’s.
- Saint Paul.
- Christ the Saviour. After the Dissolution the Church was renamed St Saviour’s Parish Church.
- Saint Augustine of Hippo. The Priory was an Augustinian House.
- Bishop William Gifford of Winchester helped to build the Priory in the 1100’s.
- Prior Aldgood was the first Prior at the Priory of St Mary in 1106.
- St Justus was the first Bishop of Rochester in the 600’s, the diocese then included Southwark
- Bishop Talbot, the first Bishop of Southwark Diocese when it was formed in 1905.
The statues of the lower row are:
- Prebendary Rogers, first of the Protestant Martyrs, translator of the bible with Tyndale and Coverdale.
- Saint Swithin, Bishop of Winchester. Founder of a College of Priests on this site in 800’s.
- Saint Thomas Becket. The Priory Hospital was dedicated in his memory.
- Saint Margaret of Antioch. A church to her memory nearby was amalgamated with the Parish church after the Dissolution.
- Saint Peter.
- St Mary (with the infant JESUS) to whom the Priory was dedicated.
- St John the Evangelist.
- St Mary Magdalene. A church for the laity dedicated to her was attached to the Priory.
- John Gower, the poet of the 1300’s, lived at the Priory in his old age and was buried there.
- Bishop Peter des Roches of Winchester, who rebuilt the church in the 1200’s after a great fire.
- Archbishop Randall Davidson of Canterbury, but Bishop of Rochester, then Winchester, before becoming Primate of all England.
The four angels with shields bear the arms of:
Canterbury, Rochester, Winchester and Southwark.
The statues on either side of the Altar are:
- King Henry I, Monarch when the Priory was founded in 1106.
- Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, of Winchester, buried in the Church, one of the translators of the bible for King James’ I’s Authorised Version.
- Bishop Fox of Winchester, who had the Altar Screen built in the 1500’s.
- King Edward VII who laid the foundation stone for the rebuilding of the Nave and was present at the Inauguration of the Cathedral.
The Humble Monument
The Humble Monument portrays Alderman Richard Humble and his two wives, Elizabeth and Isabel. Effigies of his sons and daughters are portrayed on the sides.
The monument is a typical example of the 'Southwark School' of monuments made by a group of Flemish refugee sculptors who lived and worked in the area.
A City Alderman, Humble was a member of the Church Vestry, the laity helping with the day- to-day running of the church and its charities. On one occasion he was fined for bringing his sheep into the churchyard for grazing without prior permission!
Wooden effigy of a Knight
In the North Choir Aisle, is a wooden effigy of a Knight. This is one of only 94 similar wooden effigies throughout Great Britain. The knight wears mail coat and coif dating him to around 1280. The carving is very similar to stone effigies of the same period.
The identity of the knight is unknown. He may be a member of the de Warenne family which had strong links with the church at this time.
A magnificent Nonsuch Chest
Also in the North Choir Aisle one can find a magnificent Nonsuch Chest. This beautiful inlaid chest was made by German immigrants in Southwark. It was given to the church in 1588 by Alderman Hugh Offley.
Picture / Sketch of Nonsuch House on the Bridge
It is called 'Nonsuch' either because it is a unique piece or because it was inspired by Nonsuch House, an elaborately decorated house towards the south end of the old London Bridge.
Parish records were formerly stored in this chest.
John Trehearne and his wife
A former local inhabitant, John Trehearne and his wife, are shown on a Flemish-style monument within the North Choir Aisle. The coat of arms bearing three herons is a pun on the name of Trehearne. He was one of the 'Bargainers' helping to buy the church from King James I. [See also John Bingham]
Tomb of Lancelot Andrewes
Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1625) was a great preacher of the 17th century. The original part of the tomb, the effigy of Andrewes and the cresting on the north side, is by a Flemish refugee, Gerard Johnson. Johnson is probably better known for the Shakespeare monument within Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Andrewes is shown wearing the mantle of the Order of the Garter (one of only three in the country) as the Bishops of Winchester are Prelates to the Order of the Garter.
Click here or the history and further details of the Order of the Garter.
He carries a small book which may represent his Preces Privatae, a collection of prayers he composed which are still in use today.
Bishop Andrewes was baptized at All Hallows, Barking by the Tower, in which parish he was almost certainly born. He was educated at Merchant Taylor's School and Pembroke College, Cambridge, of which he was an elected Fellow. He became Master of the College and Dean of Westminster. Subsequently he was Bishop of Chichester, Ely, and Winchester. Andrewes is said to have mastered fifteen modern languages and six ancient ones and he was part of the Old Testament translation team working on the King James (Authorized) Version of the Bible published in 1611. He was personally credited with translating the 'Pentateuch', the first five books of the Bible, into English. It was said of him, "Doctor Andrewes in the school, Bishop Andrewes in the pulpit, Saint Andrewes in the closet".
He is commemorated within the Anglican Calendar on 25 September. On that day, Evensong in the Cathedral concludes with a procession and prayers at his tomb.
For more information about the Life and times of Lancelot Andrewes:
A Prayer written by Lancelot Andrewes: An Evening Commendation
Take us, we pray thee Lord of our Life, into thy keeping this night and for ever.
O thou Light of lights, keep us from inward darkness, grant us so to sleep in peace that we may arise to work according to thy will, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The First Bishop of Southwark
The effigy shows the recumbent bishop in cope and mitre with the badge of the Order of the Garter at his feet and the symbols of the four Gospel writers at each corner.
The First Bishop of Southwark
Talbot had been Bishop of Rochester and later went on to become Bishop of Winchester. He is buried in Winchester Cathedral.
Within the South Choir Aisle, set into the floor and surrounded by a border of Victorian glazed tiles, these tesserae were discovered in 1833 and serve as a reminder the Roman remains on the Cathedral site.
Roman statuary and inscriptions were discovered in the crypt in 1977 and the surface of a Roman road that bisects the Cathedral site can be seen in the archaeological gallery in Lancelot's Link, which connects the church with the Millennium Buildings.