St George's Cathedral, Southwark

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St George's Cathedral, Southwark
Metropolitan Cathedral Church of St George
St George's Cathedral, Southwark is located in Central London
St George's Cathedral, Southwark
St George's Cathedral, Southwark
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
Status Active
Functional status Cathedral
Architect(s) Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin
Style Neo-Gothic
Archdiocese Southwark
Province Southwark
Archbishop Most Rev. Peter Smith
Dean Fr Richard Hearn
Director of music Norman Harper
Organist(s) Frederick Stocken

The Metropolitan Cathedral Church of St George, usually known as St George's Cathedral, Southwark is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark, south London and is the seat of the Archbishop of Southwark.

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.

Choirs & Music[edit]


St George's Cathedral has a well-established musical tradition, with a diversity of styles represented at the different Masses, ranging from congregational hymns and unison Mass settings at the 10.00 Family Mass, through plainsong and polyphony at the 11.30 Solemn Mass, to instrumental and contemporary music from across the world at the 18:00 Mass on Sundays.

The Cathedral Choirs sing at the Sunday morning Masses and on major events of the year, such as Advent, Christmas, Holy Week and Easter. The Girls' Choir leads the worship at the 10.00 Family Mass, and occasionally at the 11.30 Solemn Mass with the Lay Clerks. Their repertoire ranges from music by the medieval abbess St Hildegard von Bingen, through to 21st Century compositions by Nicholas O'Neill and Timothy Craig Harrison. The choir of Boys and Lay Clerks sings at the 11.30 Solemn Mass on Sundays and on major Feast Days, with a repertoire that encompasses Tudor Polyphony, Gregorian Chant, Baroque, Viennese Classical, and contemporary composers such as Arvo Pärt, Petr Eben, John Tavener and James MacMillan.[3]

The original Cathedral Choir was formed in 1848 when the Cathedral was opened, and it sang during the visit to the Cathedral of Pope John Paul II in 1982. Our choirs play a special part in the Cathedral's community and they occasionally broadcast to a wider public on BBC Radio and TV, most recently at Christmas Midnight Mass in 2011 on BBC1.[4]

At present there are 14 boy choristers aged between 8 and 13 and 16 girl choristers aged between 9 and 15, together with 8 adult Lay Clerks. Auditions for choristers are held once a year during the spring, though the Director of Music is always happy to hear prospective candidates at any time.[5]

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). 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. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Complete History of St George's Cathedral, Southwark Catholic Cathedral's website
  3. ^
  4. ^ Midnight Mass from St. George's Cathedral, Southwark, BBC Christmas Programmes 2011
  5. ^

External links[edit]