Southwark

Southwark is one of the major boroughs of Inner London, the most affluent inner city area in the world. Southwark is just south of the River Thames and the nearby City of London, and is around 11 square miles in area.

Some of the most recognizable symbols of the city of London and the United Kingdom as a whole can be found in Southwark. It is particular cultural significance in its landmarks that are bridges and buildings; the famous Tower Bridge is in Southwark, as is the oft mistaken London Bridge and various other notable crossing points of the River Thames.

Southwark - LondonThere are many Christian religious buildings in Southwark, including two cathedrals. Southwark Cathedral sits on a site that has been known for Christian worship for over 1,000 years, though it was not officially given cathedral status until 1905. In 1555, it was the scene of numerous heresy trials – designed to root out those of the Protestant faith – by the then-monarch Mary I. During her reign, Mary executed around 280 men and women for heresy, the majority of whom were tried at the Southwark Cathedral. From there, the unfortunate condemned would be escorted a few miles across the city into the official City of London for a death by burning at Smithfields Marketplace.

Thankfully, the other cathedral within the boundaries of Southwark has something of a more pleasant history. Although a less grand building than the larger Southwark Cathedral, the St. George’s Cathedral of Southwark is nevertheless a site of much Christian significance. It was originally opened in 1848, and the only key significance in its history is that it tends to be used as the host of graduation ceremonies for students from the nearby London South Bank University.

Southwark is not, however, famed for its religious significance – the borough also has something of a tradition for art and literature. The world famous Globe Theatre, originally built by Shakespeare’s players and rebuilt mere meters from where it originally stood in 1997, is within the boundary limits of Southwark. There is also the Tate Modern gallery in Southwark, one of the biggest museums of modern art in the world.

Continuing this theme are some notable arts and literary figures that were born in, or lived in, Southwark. Famous children’s author, Enid Blyton, hails from the area, as does much celebrated Victorian novelist Charles Dickens. The arts have plenty of famous figures with their roots in Southwark, such as noted actors Kenneth Branagh, Michael Caine, Charlie Chaplin and Elizabethan actor Edward Alleyn.

The borough of Southwark was created in 1965, when three former Metropolitan London boroughs – Southwark, Camberwell and Bermondsey – were amalgamated to form what is now known as Southwark borough. The borough has a population of some 244,000 residents, 63% of whom are believed to be white.

Politically, since its creation in 1965, Southwark has elected primarily candidates from the Labour party. Three different voting constituencies fall cross over Southwark borough, two of which are Labour and one of which is in the hands of the Liberal Democrats. This makes Southwark the most uniformly left wing borough of inner London, a belief reinforced all the more in that they have never had a borough council controlled by anyone but Labour.