Monday, June 23, 2008

Seven connections between Southwark Cathedral and The United States

Pausing your ipod to explore new discoveries is one of the many advantages and delights of an Audio Walk as I was reminded whilst reviewing our Bankside walk.

It was at the peaceful garden at the entrance to Southwark Cathedral that my hand pressed the pause button. Inside the cathedral is bright, certainly built to the glory of God, yet having a warmth and intimacy that is a haven of peace without stuffiness or overbearing formality. I received a friendly welcome from Kandeel Egbe who gave me a copy of The Cathedral Trail, which guides visitors around all areas of the Cathedral including The Retro Choir, the oldest part of the Cathedral dating back to 1215 – 1260.

David Payne, Visitors’ Officer for the Cathedral has kindly sent Cities in some useful information in advance of the Cathedral web site relaunch later this year.

Southwark Cathedral is renowned for the link to John Harvard the Founder of the famous Boston Ivy League College but there are 6 more links between the Cathedral and the USA and thanks to David I am able to bring them to you.

A gentle reminder… the Cathedral is a place of worship, please respect this, turn off your iPod and remove your headphones whilst you are in the Cathedral.

On every hour there is a two-minute break for prayer. This time for quiet reflection is an oasis of calm in the normal hurly burly of London life.

Visitors are asked to make a ‘voluntary donation’ to assist in the maintenance of this historic building.

Wonderfully peaceful and perfectly positioned on the Thames side of the Cathedral The Cathedral Refectory is open every day. Stop and refresh yourself before switching back on the ipod, heading on towards The Globe Theatre and more of the delights of our Bankside walk.

Southwark Cathedral Web site can be found at:

So here they are: Seven connections between Southwark Cathedral and the USA:

1. John Harvard

The baptismal records for St Saviour’s Church record that the son of parishioners Robert and Katherine Harvard was baptised here on 29 November 1607. He was given the name John. Robert was a prominent businessman who had a butcher’s business in Pepper Alley and was also warden of St Saviour’s.

John lost many family members, including his father, in the Southwark Plague. His mother Katherine went on to remarry, possibly twice more. However, after the death of both his mother and elder brother, John and his wife, Ann, left for Massachusetts in 1637. He died of consumption in 1638 and left half his estate and his library of books to the proposed new college, now known as Harvard University.

The Harvard Chapel in the Cathedral commemorates this ‘godly gentleman and lover of learning’.

2. Oscar Hammerstein II:

Inside the Chapel there is a plaque to Harvard-educated Oscar Hammerstein II. Oscar fell in love with the English Cathedral Choral tradition and would regularly visit the Cathedral and take the head boy of the Boy’s Choir to lunch with him. He gave the Cathedral Choir an endowment and two of the choir members are, to this day, known as the Hammerstein Chanters.

3. John La Farge

The window in the Harvard Chapel is by the New York stained glass artist, John La Farge. It was commissioned and paid for by Joseph Hodges Choate (1832 -1917), himself a Harvard graduate. Choate had an illustrious career in law, and headed many organisations, including the Union League Club and the Century Association. A life-long Republican he was appointed Ambassador at the Court of St James’s in London in 1899, where he worked closely with John Hay, Secretary of State on the territorial treaties between the US and Britain concerning Canada.

The main subject is the Baptism of Christ, alluding to the baptism of John Harvard in the church in 1607. This depiction is after Nicolas Poussin.

On the upper left are the arms of Harvard University and on the right those of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where Harvard studied. In the centre are the Royal Arms, as they appeared between 1415 and 1603; however, the supporters and crest are of a later period, probably dating from the restoration carried-out in 1948.

4. Charles Morton

In 1686 Charles Morton, son of Nicholas Morton, rector of St Saviour’s (now Southwark Cathedral) emigrated to Massachusetts, where he became Fellow and Vice-President of Harvard.

5. Mahomet Weyonomon

On 22 November 2006 HM The Queen accompanied by HRH Prince Philip visited the Cathedral to unveil a granite boulder from Connecticut in the churchyard to commemorate the Sachem Mahomet Weyonomon.

The story goes back to an entry in the Daily Journal for August 11th, 1736:

On Sunday last about one o’clock in the Morning died of the Small Pox, in the 36th Yeare of his Age, Mahomet Weyonomon, Sachem of the Tribe of the Mohegans in the Province of Connecticut in New England. He was Great Grandson to the famous Sachem Uncafs or Onkafs, who took part with the English upon their firft fettling of that Country. He was very decently interred laft Night (from his Lodgings at Mr Midhurst’s in Aldermanbury) in St Mary Over’s Burial-place.

The background to the story is the familiar colonial tale of settlers appropriating the land belonging to the original native population. In this case it was the tribal lands belonging to the Mohegans in Connecticut. When the settlers first took the land, Mahomet’s grandfather Oweneco came to England to petition Queen Anne. The Queen ordered a commission who found in favour of the Indians that they were unjustly deprived of their lands and the governor and company of the Colony of Connecticut was ordered to return the lands. Not only was this ignored but further encroachments took place. to the point where the Mohegans were unable to subsist on the remaining territory.

So in 1735 Mahomet Weyomon accompanied by John Mason, his son Samuel and Zachary Johnson came to London to petition King George II for restoration of their lands. They lodged in the City in the Ward of St Mary Aldermanbury. But before they could present the petition the whole party died of smallpox. The city authorities were happy to bury Mahomet’s European companions in the City but Mahomet had to be buried in the churchyard of St Mary Overie. It was quite a common custom at that time for burials to take place at night and we may imagine what a dramatic spectacle when the body was brought by torchlight over London Bridge.

At the simple unveiling ceremony in November, present with the Queen was the tribal chairman Bruce Two Dogs Bozsum and other members of the tribe. An audience with the monarch that failed in 1735 was finally achieved.

6. Sam Wanamaker

On the right of the memorial to William Shakespeare, is a memorial tablet to the American actor, Sam Wanamaker, who was the driving force behind the building of the present Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on Bankside. His ambition was achieved despite opposition at the time from local councillors, who did not want it to become a tourist attraction! How times have changed! Unfortunately, did not live to see his dream become a reality, dying before it opened its doors to the public.

7. Southwark pottery exported to the British Colonies

Within the Archaeological chamber which can be viewed in Lancelot’s Link (the internal glazed street) on the north /river side of the complex, are the remains of a 17th century pottery kiln. It was in 1614 that an application was made to make pottery ‘after the manner of Fiansa’ (Florence). Part of the old ‘fratree’ of the monastery was used as a pot house and colour house. The kilns were uncomfortably close to the church walls and a small fire in the 18th century ensured that the pottery was finally closed. Southwark Delftware (i.e. tin-glazed) was in production before it was made in Delft. Its distinctive yellow and blue colouring was popular in the American colonies and one of the largest collections of it is at Williamsburg, Virginia.

I am very grateful to David Payne for allowing me to use this information and for supplying some pictures. I returned to my Bankside walk re-invigorated after my break in the peace of the cathedral.

© David Payne, January 2008 - The photographs used here are reproduced with the kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Southwark.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Borough Market – Now 3 days a week

Borough Market – Now 3 days a week

Borough Market (London SE1) should be on everyone’s must do list. Even when the market is quiet, the local streets are likely to be familiar as they are frequently used as locations for film and television productions.

Until recently, however, those wishing to sample the finest produce and the buzzing atmosphere at the food market would have to visit on a Friday or Saturday…

Reviewing our Bankside Walk I paused (10 a.m. Friday) at the Only Organics fruit and vegetable stall and met Paul who runs the stall with his partner Harriet.

Paul gave me some tips on the best times to visit the market. On Saturdays the market opens at 9.00 and gets really busy around 11 a.m. with crowds peaking at lunchtime when it can be a jostle to get a leisurely look at what is on sale. So…

Get there at opening time for a traditional English (or vegetarian) breakfast followed by great food shopping!

Friday is a quieter day with the “calmest” time between opening at 12 and 1 p.m. and then after 3 when the lunchtime surge of locals and tourists has eased.

Paul also gave me the great news that around 30 stalls now open for trade on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. so even more opportunity to discover this treasure!

Check out the Borough Market web site for more details at

Sound Advice – added treasures to enhance your walking pleasure courtesy of: