Southwark Cathedral is a beautiful building to explore, whatever your family believes in. As the oldest Gothic church in London, the site is steeped in history, rich with stories and interesting facts for both adults and kids alike to learn. One of the best, accessible and family-friendly cathedrals in England, it’s well worth a visit.
With history dating all the way back to the 12th century, for its first few hundred years this building was an Augustinian priory. It then became a parish church, which is remained until 1905, when it was officially branded the cathedral it is today. It has links with many historic figures, from William Shakespeare to John Harvard, one of his namesake university's founders.
There are tours available for groups as well as individuals, making it a wonderful day out for the family. Learn about the history of Southwark Cathedral, including learning about all the writers from Chaucer to Charles Dickens and of course, Shakespeare, who all attended this church. In fact, Shakespeare's brother was buried at the church, and nowadays there's a stained-glass window dedicated to the playwright himself. This makes it a must-see for any budding English Literature lovers. See if you can find the Shakespeare monument in the cathedral as you explore! There are lots more interesting memorials too, including a 17th-century doctor famous for his cure-all pills.
Be sure to check out the exhibitions displayed from the work of students, local artists and school children. Throughout the year this work is displayed and available for visitors to look at.
You definitely don’t want to miss out on the performances that Southwark Cathedral hosts, for example, an outdoor performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream by theatre company The Three Inch Fools. Southwark Cathedral events run throughout the year, including carol services during the festive season. Set against the stunning Gothic architecture on a cold winter's night, the atmosphere is nothing short of magical.
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