What did the Victorians ever do for us?
Well a lot actually and especially here south of the river. For Southwark Cathedral the Victorians gave us a rebuilt nave and some wonderful stained glass, including a beautiful window in the north transept commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It was the Queen, who gave her name to the age, who defined a century and who remains a recognisable figure today, that writer and broadcaster, Lucy Worsley, came to the cathedral to talk about.
The nave was packed for her talk and book signing which took us through four stages of Victoria’s life – ‘Naughty Child’, ‘Good wife’, Bad mother’ and the ‘Widow of Windsor’. It was lovely to learn so much about someone with whom we feel so familiar, to learn surprising details of an amazing life and in a completely accessible way.
We laughed at some of the stories, were moved by others. Lucy Worsley is a fan of the queen but not so much of her beloved Albert and that in itself was intriguing. What was this ‘love affair’ that persisted into a life of widowhood really about? As far as we know Queen Victoria never came into St Saviour’s Church, as we were then, but she was driven past it on her triumphal progress around London to celebrate that Diamond Jubilee. But it was good to spend an evening in a Victorian restoration admiring a woman who helped create the nation – for good and not so good – that we are.