Southwark Cathedral

London Bridge, London, SE1 9DA

Originally known as St. Mary Overie, meaning ‘over the river’, is on the south bank of the river Thames where there has been a place of Christian worship since the 7th century. Over its long history, the buildings have survived conquests, the reformation and world wars. It became an Anglican church and changed its name to St. Saviours during the reign of Henry VIII and was the parish church of William Shakespeare. In 1611 it was bought by a group of merchants called the ‘Bargainers’ and served the local bustling community of actors, the ‘ladies’ of Bankside and craftsmen who had come to work in London from far and wide. In 1905 it became known as Southwark Cathedral. Today it still retains a lot of its Gothic structure alongside 19century reconstructions and has gained over the years a reputation as a venue for international concerts particularly for choral recitals with its shearing acoustics. As you look around the cathedral don’t miss the Harvard Chapel which commemorates the chief benefactor of Harvard University, who was baptised here with its stained glass window designed by American artist John La Farge a colleague of Louis Tiffany and see if you can spot the Shakespearian characters in his memorial window.

Holy Trinity Church Sloane Square

Sloane Square, London

Holy Trinity Church Sloane Square is a London Anglican parish church situated in the heart of Chelsea. It was built between 1888-90 to a striking Arts & Crafts design by the architect John Dando Sedding, who was one of the most prolific and influential ecclesiastical architects of the time. The church’s original benefactors were the 5th Earl of Cadogan and his wife Lady Beatrix, within whose London estate it lies. Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman, named it The cathedral of the Arts & Crafts Movement and you will see many examples of art, sculpture and metal work by some of the finest artists and craftsmen of the late 19th century. The first thing that impresses visitors to Holy Trinity is the wealth of stained glass, particularly the great east window designed by Burne-Jones, the largest window William Morris & Company ever made; equally impressive are the windows by William Blake Richmond and Christopher Whall in the North and South aisles respectively. Miraculously all these windows survived the direct hit which destroyed the roof during a bombing raid in the second World War.

St John’s Smith Square

Westminster, London

St Johns Smith Square is a unique concert venue in the centre of London. This converted 18th century church is a masterpiece of English Baroque style and has exceptional acoustics, making it a favourite for national and international singers, musicians and chamber ensembles. It is currently the home of the Southbank Sinfonia. St John’s was designed and built by Thomas Archer. It was completed in 1728 and operated as a parish church for the next 200 years. It was bombed in 1942 and left in ruins until restored to its present glory in the late 1960s. Dame Joan Sutherland, Richard Bonynge performed at the inaugural concert. Since then, St. John’s has presented some of the finest classical concerts including World Premiers by Tippet, Boulez, Birtwistle and Aaron Copeland. World renown performers include Placido Domingo, Teresa Berganza, Philip Glass, Nigel Kennedy and a young Sir Simon Rattle.