Bradshaw’s Hand Book to London, The South, St George’s Church & Kent Street (No.84)

‘..at the corner of Great Dover Street and Blackman Street is the parochial church of St George the Martyr…’ which is believed to be the third church on the site. The first church was Norman, the second was built at the end of 14C, and the third (current) dates from 1734-36. (The image below.) I couldn’t get into the church to check Bradshaw’s description, but I did see that three of the clock faces are painted white and the fourth, facing Bermondsey, is painted black because the parishioners refused to give money for rebuilding the church.

St George the Martyr c.1840

St George the Martyr c.1840

The Church of St George the Martyr, from the Church Yard

The Church of St George the Martyr, from the Church Yard

The Church of St George the Martyr, with one black clockface

The Church of St George the Martyr, with one black clockface

Edward Cocker (1631-76) is buried in the church and is known for his book Cocker’s Arithmetic, of which I had not heard, but it ran to 100 editions and so must have been popular, or useful!

Edward Cocker (National Portrait Gallery)

Edward Cocker (National Portrait Gallery)

The church has strong associations with Charles Dickens who lived in Lant Street as a teenager while his father was imprisoned in the Marshalsea Prison. (The site of the prison, alongside Angel Place) is now a library. One wall of the prison can still be seen on the north side of the churchyard.

The wall of the Marshalsea Prison, on the north of the churchyard

The wall of the Marshalsea Prison, on the north of the churchyard

‘..Kent Street, at the back, so called from its having formed the great road to the county of Kent, is a wretched and profligate part of the Borough..even more disreputable [than in 1633]..’. It was described as a ‘thieves district’. It is hard to understand the conditions of these slums today.

Kent Street, originally a Roman Road and the route to Dover, ran through open countryside in the Middle Ages, with only a few inns. The Leper Hospital, The Lock, was situated at the junction of Tabard Street and Great Dover Street and closed as late as 1760. Kent Street was renamed Tabard Street in 1877 with the clearance of the slums.

Kent Street slums, 1916 (London Transport Museum)

Kent Street, 1916 (London Transport Museum)

2014-12-20 Borough LR-93

The junction of Tabard Street and Great Dover Street

The junction of Tabard Street and Great Dover Street

The Chapel of the Leper Hospital (www.londir.so.uk)

The Chapel of the Leper Hospital (www.londir.co.uk)

The Lock Hospital (www.british-history.ac.uk)

The Lock Hospital (www.british-history.ac.uk)

‘On the site of a distillery opposite St George’s Church, was the palace of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, the husband of Mary, sister of Henry VIII and widow of Louis XII..’. It was shown as a lavish building in Wyngaerde’s view of London, c.1550, (bottom left, with towers and turrets), briefly owned by the King and then converted to a mint but demolished in 1557. The area was a ‘Liberty’, outside the jurisdiction of the City and deteriorated into a rookery, tenemented and the haunt of criminals. Today Brandon House is on the site of the original palace and currently under redevelopment.

Panorama_of_London_in_1543_Wyngaerde_Section_2

 

You may be interested in
Southwark
Charles Brandon and here
The development of Southwark
Workhouses in Southwark
The History of Tabard Street
Suffolk Place & The Mint and here
Bermondsey (for the photograph of Tabard Street)


Alsatia
Workhouses