Southwark (/ˈsʌðərk/ SUDH-ərk) is a district of Central London
and part of the London Borough of Southwark. Situated 1 1⁄2
miles (2.4 km) east of Charing Cross, it forms one of the oldest
parts of London and fronts the
River Thames to the north. It
historically formed an ancient borough in the county of Surrey, made
up of a number of parishes, which increasingly came under the
influence and jurisdiction of the City of London. As an inner district
Southwark experienced rapid depopulation during the late
19th and early 20th centuries. It is now at an advanced stage of
regeneration and is the location of the City Hall offices of the
Greater London Authority.
1.2 Early history
1.4 Local governance
1.5 Relationship with the City of London
5 Further reading
6 External links
The name Suthriganaweorc or Suthringa geweorche is recorded for
the area in the 10th-century Anglo-Saxon document known as the Burghal
Hidage and means "fort of the men of Surrey" or "the defensive
work of the men of Surrey".
Southwark is recorded in the 1086
Domesday Book as Sudweca. The name means "southern defensive work" and
is formed from the
Old English sūþ (south) and weorc (work). The
southern location is in reference to the
City of London
City of London to the north,
Southwark being at the southern end of London Bridge. Until 1889, the
Surrey included the present-day London Borough of Southwark,
yet the name has been used for various areas of civil administration,
including the ancient Borough of Southwark, the Metropolitan Borough
Southwark and the current London Borough of Southwark. The ancient
Southwark was also known simply as The Borough—or
Borough—and this name, in distinction from 'The City', has persisted
as an alternative name for the area.
Southwark was also simultaneously
referred to as the ward of
Bridge Without when administered by the
City (from 1550 to 1900) and as an aldermanry until 1978.
For the toponymy of the area's street names see Street names of
Museum of London, inscription on a stele that mentions 'Londoners' for
the first time
Southwark is sited on a previously marshy area south of the River
Thames. Recent excavation has revealed prehistoric activity including
evidence of early ploughing, burial mounds and ritual activity. The
area was originally a series of islands in the River Thames. This
formed the best place to bridge the Thames and the area became an
important part of Londinium, owing its importance to its position as
the endpoint of the Roman London Bridge. Two Roman roads, Stane Street
and Watling Street, met at
Southwark in what is now Borough High
Street. Archaeological work at Tabard Street in 2004 discovered a
plaque with the earliest reference to 'Londoners' from the Roman
period on it.
Londinium was abandoned at the end of the Roman
occupation in the early 5th century and both the city and its bridge
collapsed in decay. Archaeologically, evidence of settlement is
replaced by a largely featureless soil called the
Dark Earth which
probably (although this is contested) represents an urban area
Southwark appears to recover only during the time of King Alfred and
his successors. Sometime about 886, the burh of
Southwark was created
and the Roman city area reoccupied. It was probably fortified to
defend the bridge and hence the reemerging
City of London
City of London to the
north. This defensive role is highlighted by the use of the bridge in
1016 as a defence against King
Sweyn and his son King Cnut by Ethelred
the Unready and again, in 1066, against Duke William the Conqueror. He
failed to force the bridge during the Norman conquest of England, but
Southwark was devastated.
Southwark appears in the
Domesday Book of 1086 as held by several
Surrey manors. Its assets were: Bishop
Odo of Bayeux
Odo of Bayeux held the
monastery (the site of modern
Southwark Cathedral) and the tideway –
which still exists as St Mary Overie dock; the King owned the church
(probably St Olave's) and its tidal stream (St Olave's Dock); the dues
of the waterway or mooring place were shared between King William I
and Earl Godwin; the King also had the toll of the strand; and 'men of
Southwark' had the right to 'a haw and its toll'. Southwark's value to
the King was £16. Much of
Southwark was originally owned by the
church—the greatest reminder of monastic London is Southwark
Cathedral, originally the priory of St Mary Overie.
During the early Middle Ages,
Southwark developed and was one of the
Surrey towns which returned Members of Parliament for the first
commons assembly in 1295. An important market occupied the High Street
from some time in the 13th century, which was controlled by the City's
officers—it was later removed in order to improve traffic to the
Bridge, under a separate Trust by Act of Parliament of 1756 as the
Borough Market on the present site. The area was renowned for its
inns, especially The Tabard, from which Geoffrey Chaucer's pilgrims
set off on their journey in The Canterbury Tales.
Just west of the Bridge was the
Liberty of the Clink
Liberty of the Clink manor, which was
never controlled by the City, technically held under the Bishopric of
Winchester's nominal authority. This area therefore became the
entertainment district for London, and it was also a red-light area.
In 1587, Southwark's first playhouse theatre, The Rose, opened. The
Rose was set up by Philip Henslowe, and soon became a popular place of
entertainment for all classes of Londoners. Both Christopher Marlowe
and William Shakespeare, two of the finest writers of the Elizabethan
age, worked at the Rose.
In 1599 the Globe Theatre, in which Shakespeare was a shareholder, was
erected on the
Bankside in the Liberty of the Clink. It burned down in
1613, and was rebuilt in 1614, only to be closed by the
1642 and subsequently pulled down not long thereafter. A modern
replica called Shakespeare's Globe, has been built near the original
Southwark was also a favourite area for entertainment such as
bull and bear-baiting. The impresario in the later Elizabethan period
for these entertainments was Shakespeare's colleague Edward Alleyn,
who left many local charitable endowments, most notably Dulwich
On 26 May 1676, ten years after the Great Fire of London, a great fire
broke out, which continued for 17 hours before houses were blown up to
create fire breaks. King Charles II and his brother, James, Duke of
York, were involved in the effort.
There was also a famous fair in
Southwark which took place near the
St George the Martyr.
William Hogarth depicted this fair in
his engraving of
Southwark Fair (1733).
Southwark was also the location of several prisons, including those of
the Crown or Prerogative Courts, the Marshalsea and King's Bench
prisons, that of the local manors courts e.g. Borough Compter, The
Clink, and the
Surrey county gaol originally housed at the White Lion
Inn (also called informally the Borough Gaol) and eventually at
Horsemonger Lane Gaol.
One other local family is of note, the Harvards. John Harvard went to
the local parish free school of St Saviour's and on to Cambridge
University. He migrated to the
Massachusetts Colony and left his
library and the residue of his will to the new college there, named
after him as its first benefactor.
Harvard University maintains a
link, having paid for a memorial chapel within
(his family's parish church), and where its UK-based alumni hold
services. John Harvard's mother's house is in Stratford upon Avon.
In 1836 the first railway in the London area was created, the London
Greenwich Railway, originally terminating at Spa Road and later
extended west to London Bridge.
In 1861, another great fire in
Southwark destroyed a large number of
Tooley Street and the Thames, including those around
Hays Wharf (later replaced by Hays Galleria) and blocks to the west
almost as far as St Olave's Church.
The first deep-level underground tube line in London was the City and
South London Railway, now the Bank branch of the Northern line, opened
in 1890, running from King William Street south through Borough to
Stockwell. Southwark, since 1999, is also now served by Southwark,
London Bridge stations on the Jubilee line.
A map showing the wards of
Southwark Metropolitan Borough as they
appeared in 1916.
The ancient borough of
Southwark initially consisted of the Surrey
St George the Martyr, St Olave, St Margaret and St
Mary. St Margaret and St Mary were abolished in 1541 and their
former area combined to create
Southwark St Saviour. Around 1555
Southwark St Thomas
Southwark St Thomas was split off from St Olave, and in 1733 Southwark
St John Horsleydown was also split off.
In 1855 the parishes came into the area of responsibility of the
Metropolitan Board of Works. The
St George the Martyr parish was large
enough to be governed by a vestry. St John Horsleydown, St Olave and
St Thomas were grouped to form the St Olave District. St Saviour was
Southwark Christchurch (the former liberty of Paris
Garden) to form the St Saviour's District. In 1889 the area became
part of the County of London. St Olave and St Thomas were combined
as a single parish in 1896.
The local government arrangements were reorganised in 1900 with a
Metropolitan Borough of Southwark
Metropolitan Borough of Southwark created comprising the parishes of
Southwark St Saviours,
St George the
Martyr and Newington. The eastern parishes that had formed the St
Olave District instead became part of the Metropolitan Borough of
Bermondsey. In 1965 the two boroughs were combined with the
Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell to form the current London Borough
Relationship with the City of London
Southwark was outside of the control of the
City of London
City of London and was a
haven for criminals and free traders, who would sell goods and conduct
trades outside the regulation of the City's Livery Companies. In 1327
the City obtained control from King Edward III of the manor next to
the south side of
London Bridge known as the Town of
latterly the Guildable Manor—i.e., the place of taxes and tolls).
The Livery Companies also ensured that they had jurisdiction over the
From the Norman period manorial organisation obtained through major
lay and ecclesiastic magnates.
Southwark still has vestiges of this
because of the connection with the City of London. In 1327 the City
acquired from Edward III the original vill of
Southwark and this was
also described as "the borough". In 1536 Henry VIII acquired the
Bermondsey Priory properties and in 1538 that of the Archbishop. In
1550 these were sold to the City.
After many decades of petitioning, in 1550
Southwark was incorporated
City of London
City of London as the ward of Bridge Without. However, the
Alderman was appointed by the
Court of Aldermen
Court of Aldermen and no Common
Councilmen were ever elected. This ward was constituted of the
Guildable Manor and the properties previously held by the
church, under a charter of Edward VI, latterly called the King's Manor
or Great Liberty. These manors are still constituted by the City under
a Bailiff and Steward with their Courts Leet and View of Frankpledge
Juries and Officers which still meet—their annual assembly being
held in November under the present High Steward (the Recorder of
London). The Ward and
Aldermanry were effectively abolished in 1978,
by merging it with the Ward of Bridge Within. These manorial courts
were preserved under the Administration of Justice Act 1977.
Therefore, between 1750 and 1978
Southwark had two persons (the
Alderman and the Recorder) who were members of the City's Court of
Aldermen and Common Council who were elected neither by the City
freemen or by the
Southwark electorate but appointed by the Court of
The Borough and
Bankside Community Council corresponds to the
Southwark electoral wards of Cathedrals and Chaucer. They are part
Bermondsey and Old
Southwark Parliament constituency whose
Member of Parliament is Neil Coyle. It is within the
London Assembly constituency and the London European
Southwark is the location of City Hall, the
administrative headquarters of the
Greater London Authority and the
meeting place of the
London Assembly and Mayor of London. Since 2009,
Southwark London Borough Council
Southwark London Borough Council has its main offices at 160 Tooley
Street, having moved administrative staff from the town hall in
Camberwell. There are five business improvement districts (BIDs) in
Southwark; Better Bankside, The Blue Bermondsey,
South Bank BID, Team
London Bridge, and We Are Waterloo.
Tower Bridge towards Southwark: City Hall and the rest of
More London development in the foreground, and the Shard London Bridge
skyscraper (under construction at the time of the photo) in the
In common with much of the south bank of the Thames, the Borough has
seen extensive regeneration in the last decade. Declining wharfage
trade, light industry and factories have given way to residential
development, shops, restaurants, galleries, bars and most notably
major office developments housing international headquarters of
accountancy, legal and other professional services consultancies, most
London Bridge City and
More London between Tooley Street
and the riverside. The area is in easy walking distance of the City
and the West End. As such it has become a major business centre with
many national and international corporations, professional practices
and publishers locating to the area. London's tallest skyscraper, the
Shard, is located next to
London Bridge Station.
To the north is the River Thames,
London Bridge station and Southwark
Borough Market is a well-developed visitor attraction and
has grown in size. The adjacent units have been converted and form a
gastronomic focus for London.
Borough High Street
Borough High Street runs roughly north
to south from
London Bridge towards Elephant and Castle. The Borough
runs further to the south than realised; both St George's Cathedral
Imperial War Museum
Imperial War Museum are within the ancient boundaries, which
border nearby Lambeth.
The Borough is generally an area of mixed development, with council
estates, major office developments, social housing and high value
residential gated communities side by side with each other.
^ "Southwark". The Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World. New
York, NY: Columbia University Press. 1952.
^ a b c Mills, D. (2000). Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names.
Oxford University Press.
^ a b c Johnson, David J. (1969).
Southwark and the City. Oxford
University Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-19-711630-2.
^ a b c d Youngs, Frederic (1979). Guide to the Local Administrative
Units of England. I: Southern England. London: Royal Historical
Society. ISBN 0-901050-67-9.
^ "Where's your community council".
Southwark London Borough Council.
Retrieved 4 September 2010.
John, Timbs (1867). "Southwark". Curiosities of London (2nd ed.).
London: J.C. Hotten. OCLC 12878129.
Findlay Muirhead, ed. (1922). "Southwark". London and its Environs
(2nd ed.). London: Macmillan & Co. OCLC 365061.
Southwark at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
Digital Public Library of America. Works related to Southwark, various
London Borough of Southwark
Elephant and Castle
Bramah Tea and Coffee Museum
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Fire Brigade Museum
Herne Hill Stadium
House of Dreams Museum
Imperial War Museum
Livesey Museum for Children
Mandela Way T-34 Tank
Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret
The Old Vic
Pumphouse Educational Museum
Purdy Hicks Gallery
Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
South London Gallery
Bridges and tunnels
Blackfriars Railway Bridge
Cannon Street Railway Bridge
Parks and open spaces
Bermondsey Spa Gardens
Dickens Square Park
Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park
Little Dorrit Park
Camberwell and Peckham
Southwark and Bermondsey
Dulwich and West Norwood
Tube and rail stations
Elephant and Castle
Queens Road Peckham
Grade I and II* listed buildings
Areas of London
Central activities zone
City of London
City of London wards
Holloway Nags Head
Kensington High Street
King's Road East
Elephant and Castle
Isle of Dogs
Lists of areas
Barking and Dagenham
Hammersmith and Fulham
Kensington and Chelsea
Kingston upon Thames
Richmond upon Thames
Canley (borough) (The Bill: TV soap)
Charnham (suburb) (Family Affairs: TV soap)
Gasforth (town) (The Thin Blue Line: TV series)
London Below (magical realm) (Neverwhere: TV series, novel)
Walford (borough) (EastEnders: TV soap)
The London Plan 2011, Annex Two: London's Town Centre Network –