St George the Martyr

Famous as Little Dorrit’s church, the present Church of St George the Martyr in Borough High Street is the third church to be built on this site. There is a tradition that there was a church here in Saxon times, but the first written record there is concerning the church of St George the Martyr is dated 1122 in the Annals of Bermondsey Abbey. This records that Thomas Arderne and his son of Hordon on the Hill, Essex, whose family had been given the land by William the Conqueror, gave their patronage of the church to the Abbey which gift was confirmed by Henry I. There is no record giving any details about the Norman church but it is thought to have been the first church in London dedicated to St George.

The church was rebuilt at the end of the 14th century and it is the square stone tower that features in the Wyngaerde Panorama of London and Hogarth’s engraving of Southwark Fair of 1733. The tower had a clock and a peal of eight bells and fine stained glass windows which were probably made locally. When people travelled to and from the City of London from Europe, they passed by the Church of St George the Martyr. In 1393, when Richard II sought a reconciliation with the City of London after a disagreement, he was met at the church by the Bishop of London accompanied by his clergy and 500 choristers before proceeding over the river to the City. In 1417, before setting out to France for the military campaign, Henry V made an offering at St George the Martyr and the Mayor and Alderman of the City met him at the church upon his return.

St George the martyr - Wyngaerde

Church of St George the Martyr from Wyngaerde'sPanorama of London

St George the Martyr
little dorrit gets married


A H Brayne, Historical Notes on the Church of St George the Martyr, Southwark SE1 (1929)
Ida Darlington (ed), Survey of London, Vol 25 (1955)
Tony Lucas, Poets, Parsons and Prisoners, London (2005)
John Pindar, St George the Martyr Church, Southwark, London (1965)
George Weight, Statistics of the Parish of St George the Martyr, Southwark, Journal of the Statistical Society, (April 1840) (Google Books)
Interview with Revd. W J Somerville, St George the Martyr Charles Booth Notebook (District 31 Book No. C1) 1899
St George the Martyr, Annual Report and Statement of Accounts 1898