St George's Cathedral, Southwark

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St George's Cathedral
Metropolitan Cathedral of St. George, Southwark
St George's Cathedral is located in Central London
St George's Cathedral
St George's Cathedral
Shown within Central London
51°29′52″N 0°06′28″W / 51.4978°N 0.1079°W / 51.4978; -0.1079Coordinates: 51°29′52″N 0°06′28″W / 51.4978°N 0.1079°W / 51.4978; -0.1079
Location Southwark, Greater London
Country England
Denomination Roman Catholic
Consecrated 1848
Architect(s) Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin
Archdiocese Southwark
Province Southwark
Archbishop Most Rev. Peter Smith
Dean Canon John O'Toole
Director of music Nick Gale
Organist(s) Norman Harper

St George's Cathedral, Southwark, (Br [ˈsʌðɨk])[1] is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the Archdiocese of Southwark, south London, England.

The Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Roman Catholic Province of Southwark which covers the Archdiocese of Southwark (all of London south of the River Thames including Kent and north Surrey) and the Dioceses of Arundel and Brighton, Portsmouth, and Plymouth. It is the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Archbishop of Southwark.

The Cathedral is situated opposite the Imperial War Museum on Lambeth Road in London (on the corner with St George's Road). In Westminster Bridge Road, close by to the north, is St George's Cathedral Roman Catholic Primary School and the headquarters of CAFOD.


Catholic priest Father Dixon walks through the cathedral in 1942, after extensive damage was caused by incendiary bombing

Opened in 1848, St George's became in 1852 one of the first four Catholic churches in England and Wales (and the first in London) raised to cathedral status since the English Reformation.[2] It was designed by Augustus Pugin, famous for his work with Charles Barry on the design of the rebuilt Houses of Parliament. Pugin was the first person to be married in the Cathedral on 10 August 1848 to his third wife Jane. The Cathedral was badly bombed during World War II and the rebuilt Cathedral was opened in 1958. Since then it has resumed its role as a focal point in the local community and has played host to many notable visitors, including the Dalai Lama (1998) and Pope John Paul II (1982), the latter being depicted in one of the Cathedral's many fine stained-glass windows.[3]

Easter 2011 saw the partial restoration of the 1958 John Compton organ and the installation in the chancel of the George Pace Choir Stalls, a gift from the Anglican St Alban's Cathedral. The Cathedral has strong links with both the Cathedral Church of Paderborn, North-Rhine-Westphalia, which suffered bombing by the British in the Second World War, and Southwark Cathedral, the local Anglican cathedral.



The Cathedral has a Cathedral Choir of boys and men which sings at the 11.30am Solemn Mass every Sunday and on major Feast Days. The Choir's repertoire encompasses Gregorian Chant, Tudor Polyphony, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical and Romantic Masses and motets, as well as the music of contemporary liturgical composers such as Judith Bingham, Arvo Pärt, Nicholas O'Neill and James MacMillan. The Choir has also broadcast on Radio 4 and BBC 1 television in the UK and on BBC Prime around the world. The Men of the Cathedral Choir are exponents of the performance of Gregorian Chant, many of them having studied at Solesmes in France. The Cathedral's Director of Music, Nick Gale, an Oxford graduate, is himself a pupil of Dom Daniel Saulnier of Solesmes and the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome. The Choir tours every two years and has sung in many notable churches including Santa Maria sopra Minerva and Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, Rome and Cologne Cathedral in Germany.[4]

The Cathedral also has a Girls Choir, run by the Cathedral Organist Norman Harper, which sings at the 10 am Mass on Sundays. In contrast to the male choir, the girls sing music of a more congregational nature, including in-house Mass settings by Nicholas O'Neill and Norman Harper, with English and Latin anthems and motets.[5] Former Choir members include Gayatri Nair, who is a first study pianist and singer in Purcell School for Young Musicians.

The Cathedral's choirs sang Midnight Mass on 24 December 2011 live on BBC1 television. At this Mass the choir of men and boys gave the broadcast premières of Nicholas O'Neill's Missa Sancti Nicolai (Latin, SATB + Organ) and James MacMillan's In splendoribus (Latin, SATB + Trumpet), as well as singing the Gregorian Propers of the Mass. The girls led the congregational carols and sang an arrangement of the Medieval macaronic carol Of one that is so fair and bright by Timothy Craig Harrison. The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Peter Smith, Metropolitan Archbishop of Southwark.[6]

St George's Cathedral from St George's Road


The cathedral is above all a working church for the community. For example, the vibrant Latin American community is served with a Spanish Mass every Sunday at 1pm, celebrated entirely in the Spanish language. Every Mass is attended by people of different ethnicities and ages, ranging from African to Asian to European. The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales have made several visits to the cathedral to celebrate both Low Mass and Solemn High Mass in the usus antiquior (older use) that Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum (2007) authorised as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (the 1962 version of the Tridentine Mass) and intends to continue to do so. The Cathedral is proud to be a religious home to all these groups.

The cathedral is located on a historic site close to the Imperial War Museum, and a few minutes' walk from London's South Bank and the Thames, Westminster Bridge, the London Eye, and landmarks such as St Thomas' Hospital and Waterloo Station. Each summer it is used by London South Bank University for its graduation ceremonies. It is also frequently used for the Convocations of the Academy of Saint Cecilia. The superb acoustics attract many orchestras and choirs to perform concerts in the Nave and the Whitehall Orchestra and Trinity College of Music are frequent visitors.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Southwark", in The Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World (1952), New York: Columbia University Press.
  2. ^ Decree of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, 21 April 1852. The other churches raised to cathedrals by this decree were St Chad's, Birmingham, St Barnabas, Nottingham and St John's, Salford: Decreta Quatuor Conciliorum Provincialium Westmonasteriensium, (2nd Edn, London: Burns & Oates), p.56; translation in: Robert Guy OSB, The Synods in English (Stratford-on-Avon: St Gregory Press, 1886) p.101.
  3. ^ Complete History of St George's Cathedral, Southwark Catholic Cathedral's website
  4. ^ Cathedral Music, Southwark Catholic Cathedral's website
  5. ^ Girl's Choir at Southwark, Southwark Catholic Cathedral's website
  6. ^ Midnight Mass from St. George's Cathedral, Southwark, BBC Christmas Programmes 2011

External links[edit]

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