St Alphege Church

The chapelry of St Alphege was formed in 1872 as a sub-parish of St George the Martyr and covers an area west of Southwark Bridge Road to Blackfriars Road, to the south of the parish which would become All Hallows. Revd. Alfred B Goulden was sent to serve the parish, a man of great energy, personality and determination, and a great talent for fund-raising and publicity. He wrote colourfully about the conditions of the parish, some said his methods were sensationalist and misleading. This is an extract of what he wrote when he arrived at the parish:

It is a poor parish in the middle of poor parishes, only to be distinguished by surpassing all others in poverty; what few shops there are share in the desperate aspect of depression. The wretched, ruinous houses with battered doors, dingy broken windows and blackened walls, cluster thickly together in murky courts and alleys. Foul sewers pour out disagreeable smells. Rotten refuse lies in every direction. All disagreeable smelling trades seem to be actively practised in the neighbourhood. Here they smoke haddocks, boil bones, slaughter horses, make catgut, soap and whatever else can make a parish disagreeable.

Even the children and mere infants sprawling in the gutter look up at passers-by with pinched and ugly faces; evil eyed men leer out of the open doors of the public house; women in faded and tattered finery, with awful history written in their faces, lounge about the dark archways and doors. Down these narrow and dirty streets, costermongers, tramps, labourers and thieves are huddled together. A small low room suffices for a whole family, streets and lanes abound where it would be hard to find a person who had not served his time in some prison or reformatory. Immorality of the coarsest type is regarded with utter indifference.

St Alphege