St Margaret's Church / The Town Hall

St Margaret's Church was situated in the piece of land that is enclosed by the fork in Borough High Street just before Southwark Street. Where the St Saviour's War Memorial now stands, there once stood a cross. Owned by St Mary Priory who appointed the parish priest, St Margaret's was serving as a parish church by the early 12th century. It was a small church with private pews, tiled floors, a steeple and a belfrey with three bells.

For a short while, plays adapted from the Bible were performed in the church by priests, clerks and sometimes children from the parish which were for both the entertainment and instruction of the congregation. In 1444 and 1445 plays were performed on St Margaret's Day (20 July) and on the church's dedication day which fell on the feast of St Lucy (13 December). In 1446 only one play was performed, on St Margaret's Day, when a pair of new organs were bought and a man was hired to play them. The plays continued until 1456 after which time money was spent on hiring singers instead.

By the time of the Reformation, the church had become too small for the expanding population. The congregation of St Margarets joined together with that of St Mary Magdalen, another parish formerly within the bounds of St Mary Priory, who worshipped in a small church to the South of the Church. The two congregations petitioned the King for the use of the Priory church, which had been surrendered by the Priory to the King in October 1539. The Bishop of Winchester supported the petition and by Christmas, the unwanted church fittings of St Margaret's were being sold off in impatient anticipation of the move. An Act of Parliament in 1540 ratified the union of the two parishes and a grant of the Rectory and Priory Church made at an annual rental of 49.5s.4d. The enlarged parish and church was renamed St Saviour's. In the middle of the fifteenth century, the parishioners of St Margarets had founded a Guild in honour of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and the influential wardens of St Saviour's date their origin as a corporate body from that date. The congregation purchased the church for 800 in 1611.

Town hall

The Site in Borough High Street (approximate) of St Margaret's Church and later Town Hall.

The former church of St Margaret's was converted into a session house with gaol for the County of Surrey magistrates, and in 1550, a room was built for the use by the Mayor of London. The bulding became known as St Margaret's Hall, or Justice Hall, but was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1676. A new session house and gaol was built to replace it where both the Surrey justices and the City of London justices held quarter sessions. The new building had a statue of Charles II , who had received the freedom of Southwark, situated in an external alcove at the first floor level. The Sessions House was replaced by a Town Hall in 1793, which was used now only by the City of London as in 1782 Union Hall, had been built in Union Street, where the Surrey Sessions were now held. As the City's interest in Southwark grew less and less, fewer sessions were held. The Town Hall building deteriorated and was later demolished to make way for the premises for a bank.