Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral stands on the south bank of the Thames, near London Bridge and I’ve walked past many times when I’ve been in London both for work and pleasure. After wandering around Borough market we decided to go and have a closer look.

There’s been a church on the site since Norman times, if not earlier. Between 1106 and 1538 it was the church of an Augustinian priory. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, it became a parish church. It only became a cathedral in 1905 when the diocese of Southwark was established.

This is an old drawing of the church  and the nearby old London Bridge from 1616 (source: Wikipedia)

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The famous panorama of London in 1647 by the Czech artist Wenceslas Hollar was drawn from the top of the tower of the church, then known as Saint Saviour’s.

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The present building is mainly Victorian Gothic following the reconstruction of the building, which was in a bad state of repair, in the 19th Century, although there are some remnants of the older structures, particularly in the retro-choir.

Looking down the Nave

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The high alter screen. The original was installed in 1520 but the two rows of statues are in excellent condition and were only added in 1905.

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An older part of the building at the far end of the nave

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Originally the building had a timber roof, but that was replaced during the Victorian restoration. However, a reproduction has been created in the crossing, underneath the tower

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The original roof would have been held together by several hundred carved bosses. Some of the originals have been preserved and are displayed at the far end of the nave. Here’s some of them.

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During Elizabethan times, the Bankside area, south of the Thames, where the church is located, was outside the jurisdiction of the City of London, and became something of a “pleasure garden”  occupied by the bear baiting pits and theatres including the Globe, Rose and Swan. The reconstructed Globe is a short walk away. So, not surprisingly, the cathedral ahs a close connection with the historic dramatists. William Shakespeare’s brother, Edmund, was buried there in 1607. His grave is unmarked, but there’s a commemorative stone in the paving of the choir.

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There is a large stained glass window dedicated to William Shakespeare, depicting scenes from his plays, at the base of which is an alabaster statue of him reclining, holding a quill.

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There’s also a memorial to Sam Wannamaker, the American actor who left the USA to avoid persecution during the McCarthy era and who inspired the reconstruction of the Globe Theatre. (Inspired isn’t the right word, really. He had to fight tooth and nail and put a lot of time, energy and sweat into getting it built)

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John Harvard the founder of Harvard University in the USA was born in the parish, and baptised in the church on 29 November 1607. He is commemorated by the Harvard Chapel in the north transept, paid for by Harvard University alumni resident in England.

There’s an attractive Arts and Crafts style stained glass window in the chapel

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There’s some other attractive stained glass in the church, though the bright autumn sunlight streaming through them made it difficult to take decent photographs.  I rather liked this modern design in the retro-chapel

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Outside there’s a small but attractive garden. Overlooked by Borough Market it’s something of an oasis of peace in a rather hectic neighbourhood.

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There was a recreated Augustinian herb garden at the back of the church. The monks would have grown herbs for both culinary and healing purposes – in medieval times the monks would have tended to the sick which is why many older hospitals have their origins in churches, monasteries and nunneries.

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A view of the shard from the churchyard.

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And a pleasant surprise. I spotted this sculpture in the churchyard. My immediate reaction was that it looked like a work by Peter Randall-Page.

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Checking out the information board confirmed my suspicion

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Back to Borough Market

A few days after our short break in the Peak District I was down in Dartford with work. I’d travelled down by train via London so we decided to combine work with pleasure and the other half travelled down on the Friday morning and met me in London for a short stay. We were staying in a Premier Inn at Southwark near Borough Market. It’s a really “buzzing” area during the evening with plenty of places to eat and lots of pubs and bars, all of which were busy on an autumn evening. The terrorist attack by zealots who don’t like people having fun only a few weeks ago doesn’t seem to have stopped people getting out and enjoying themselves – and that’s the way it should be.

We had a rather nice contemporary style Leabanese meal at a busy Arabica , a restaurant under the railway arches on Rochester Walk near the market

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followed by a stroll along the South Bank before turning in

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The next day, after breakfast we went for a wander around the market.

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Unusual Neo-Gothic Building in Glasgow

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One of the buildings that took my eye while I was mooching around Glasgow Merchant City last Monday afternoon was what the British Listed Buildings website describes as a

Bizarrely detailed Gothic warehouse,

I think that just about sums it up! It’s relatively restrained in that there isn’t much decoration or embellishment and looks more like a later Art Nouveau or Glasgow School style building than a typical Victorian Gothic wedding cake.

I particularly liked this eyecatching

unusual semi-octagonal door head with heavily moulded octagonal oculus above.

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I haven’t been able to find much information on it other than from the British Listed Buildings posting, but that does tell us that it was originally a warehouse, that it was built in 1859, and that the architect was R W Billings

The Hatrack

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This distinctive tall, slender, Art Nouveau style listed building at 142 St Vincent St, Glasgow, is popularly known as the Hatrack

It was designed by James Salmon Jnr a contemporary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh Salmon, who was affectionately nicknamed “the Wee Troot”, a play on his name (Troot = Trout) and short stature. He was also one of the architects of the Anderston Savings Bank I stumbled upon during my last visit to the city.

The building was constructed between 1899 and 1902. Its name was inspired by the cupola, which has projecting finials that resemble the “pegs” of a hat rack. It was difficult to get a decent snap of it from street level so this is my best effort.

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Above the entrance to the building is an attractive stained glass oriel window with the design of a sailing ship on top of a sculpture of what appears to be a mythical dragon.

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The front of the building is a curtain wall supported on a concrete frame and is mainly glass with only a bare minimum of decorative sandstone. It does rather remind me of a more slender version of Oriel Chambers, built in Liverpool in 1874 and designed by the revolutionary architect, Peter Ellis. This resemblance and likely influence is also noted on the Scotcities website.

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Street haunting in Glasgow

I was up in Glasgow on Monday and Tuesday for some meetings. I took a train up late morning and when I arrived had a few hours before my first commitment so decided to have a mooch around the city centre. It’s a city with plenty of character and interesting architecture. Here’s a few snaps I took during the short time I had street haunting, mainly round the Merchant City area.

NGI Renovated and Renewed

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During my visit to the National Galley of Ireland I was able to take a look at the older parts of the building that only reopened on June 15th. They’ve been closed for the past six years for extensive renovation works including building repairs, fire upgrading, environmental controls and improving accessibility.

First impressions were that the architects in charge of the project, Heneghan Peng, who were also responsible for the Giant’s Causeway Visitor’s Centre, had done a good job. All the services have been well hidden and the older rooms, which I remember looking tired when I last visited them, have been refreshed and brightened up. Windows in the Shaw room, that were previously covered over to facilitate the hanging of paintings, have been uncovered making it a much brighter space lit with natural light.

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They’ve also created an airy, bright covered courtyard in the space between the between the Dargan Wing and the 1901 Milltown Wing

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At one end of the courtyard there’s a rather beautiful sinuous wooden sculpture, Magnus Modus, by Joseph Walsh, made of olive ash with a Kilkenny limestone base. It was commissioned by the Office of Public Works on behalf of the National Gallery of Ireland.

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Burne-Jones window at St James Staveley

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While I was in Staveley the other week, just before I set out on my walk I popped into St James’ Church. I wanted to take a look at the East window, which was designed by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones and made by William Morris & Co.

The window depicts the Crucifixion, and the Ascension, with angels grouped on a starry background.

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My photograph really does not do justice to this outstanding work of art.  Definitely “worth the diversion” as they would say in the Michelin Guides. (There’s a better photograph here)

The Church is listed, not because the building is special, but because of the window – which certainly is!

Listed for 3-light East window: glass by Morris and Co. after designs by Burne-Jones. Centre light shows Crucifixion over Ascension with angels, side lights three tiers each of single angels against a background of dark blue with stars. In memory of David Harrison d.1878. (Historic England)

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There are other windows made by Morris and co. and designed by Burne-Jones in Cumbria. I’ll have to seek them out.