Gallery

Gallery: 
Attributed to William Marlow, 1740-1813
The Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Saviour & St Mary Overie, Southwark, with stone Masons in the foreground
Cathedral & Collegiate Church of Southwark
oil on board
11.3/4 x 13.1/4in. (29 x 34 cm.)

Notes

This view is taken from the east end of the Cathedral and shows the Cathedral before it was restored between 1818 and 1830 by George Gwilt jun, who was determined to return the church to its 13th century appearance. By the early 19th century the fabric of the church had fallen into disrepair. All the medieval furnishings were gone , and the interior was as Francis Bumpus later described it, "pewed and galleried to a fearful extent". Gwilt removed the early sixteenth century windows at the east end of the choir and, lacking firm evidence as to the original design, substituted an elevation of his own invention, with three lancet windows, and a circular one in the gable above. The transepts were restored, less sympathetically, by Robert Wallace. The Bishop’s Chapel and parochial chapel were removed, but plans for the demolition of the retrochoir were averted, and it was restored by Gwilt in 1832.

At a vestry meeting held in May 1831 it was decided to remove the nave roof, which had become unsafe, leaving the interior open to the weather, and to hold all future services in the choir and transepts. In 1839, the roofless nave was demolished to within seven feet of the ground,and rebuilt to a design by Henry Rose.The new nave was at a higher level than the surviving mediaeval eastern part, and closed off from it by a glazed screen. It had a plaster vault carried on iron columns, and a wooden gallery around three sides. It was widely criticised, notably by Pugin who wrote "It is bad enough to see such an erection spring up at all, but when a venerable building is demolished to make way for it, the case is quite intolerable."On the initiative of Anthony Thorold, Bishop of Rochester, the nave was once again rebuilt between 1890 and 1897[21] by Arthur Blomfield, in a manner intended to recreate its 13th century predecessor as accurately as possible, and to preserve the few surviving mediaeval fragments.The main railway viaduct connecting London Bridge station to Blackfriars, Cannon Street and Charing Cross stations passes only eighteen metres from the southeast corner of the cathedral, blocking the view from the south side. This was a compromise when the railway was extended along this viaduct in 1852; the alternative was to demolish the building completely to allow a more direct passage for the line.

The collegiate parish church of St Saviour was designated as a cathedral in 1905 when the Church of England Diocese of Southwark was created. The nearby early-18th-century church of St Thomas became the new cathedral's chapter-house.The cathedral stands in an area heavily damaged by German bombing during the Second World War. The total number of bombs dropped on Southwark between 7 October 1940 to 6 June 1941 alone was 1,651 High Explosive Bombs and 20 Parachute Mines.On 20 February 1941 it was reported (after being unrestricted by the ministry of information) the cathedral had been damaged by a bomb. Shrapnel damage is still visible on the outside of the building to this day.There are memorials to Isabella Gilmore and the victims of the Marchioness disaster, and monuments to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. In 2001 Mandela opened a new northern "cloister" on the site of the old monastic one, with a refectory, shop, conference centre, education centre and museum. In 2002, these Millennium buildings received an award for being one of the best new buildings of the year. Between 1106 and 1538 it was the church of an Augustinian priory, Southwark Priory, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, it became a parish church, with the new dedication of St Saviour's. The church was in the diocese of Winchester until 1877, when the parish of St Saviour's, along with other South London parishes, was transferred to the diocese of Rochester. The present building retains the basic form of the Gothic structure built between 1220 and 1420, although the nave is a late 19th-century reconstruction.

The 16th-century London historian John Stow recorded an account of the origins of the Southwark Priory of St Mary that he had heard from Bartholomew Linsted, who had been the last prior when the priory was dissolved. Linsted claimed it had been founded as a nunnery "long before the [Norman] Conquest" by a maiden named Mary, on the profits of a ferry across the Thames she had inherited from her parents. Later it was converted into a college of priests by "Swithen, a noble lady". Finally in 1106 it was refounded as an Augustinian priory.

The tale of the ferryman's daughter Mary and her benefactions became very popular, but later historians tried to rationalise Linsted's story. Thus the author of an 1862 guidebook to the then St Saviour's church suggested it was probable that the "noble lady" Swithen had in fact been a man – Swithun, Bishop of Winchester from 852 or 853 until his death in 863.In the 20th century this identification was accepted by the Revd Thomas P. Stevens, Succentor and Sacrist, and later Honorary Canon, of Southwark Cathedral, who wrote a number of guidebooks to the cathedral, and a history that was revised and reprinted many times. He went on to date the foundation of the supposed original nunnery to "about the year 606", although he provided no evidence to support the date. Although recent guidebooks are more circumspect, referring only to "a tradition", an information panel at the east end of the cathedral still claims that there had been "A convent founded in 606 AD" and "A monastery established by St Swithun in the 9th century".It is unlikely that this minster pre-dated the conversion of Wessex in the mid-7th century, or the foundation of the "burh" c. 886. There is no proof for suggestions that a convent was founded on the site in 606 nor for the claim that a monastery was founded there by St Swithun in the 9th century.

The earliest reference to the site was in the Domesday Book survey of 1086, when the "minster" of Southwark seems to have been under the control of William the Conqueror's half-brother, Bishop Odo of Bayeux.The Old English minster was a collegiate church serving an area on the south side of the Thames. In 1106, during the reign of Henry I it became an Augustinian priory, under the patronage of the Bishops of Winchester, who established their London seat Winchester Palace immediately to the west in 1149. A remaining wall of the palace refectory, with a rose window, survives in Clink Street.The Priory was dedicated to the Virgin Mother as 'St Mary' but had the additional soubriquet of "Overie" ("over the water") to distinguish it from the many other churches in the City with the same name.Some fragments of 12th century fabric survive. The church in its present form, however, dates to between 1220 and 1420, making it the first Gothic church in London.

The church was severely damaged in the Great Fire of 1212. Rebuilding took place during the thirteenth century, although the exact dates are unknown.In its reconstructed state – the basic layout of which survives today – the church was cruciform in plan, with an aisled nave of six bays, a crossing tower, transepts, and a five bay choir. Beyond the choir stood a lower retrochoir or "Lady Chapel", the form of which can also be interpreted as group of four chapels with separate gabled roofs, two opening from the choir, and two from each aisle.There was a chapel dedicated to Mary Magdalen, for the use of the parishioners, in the angle between the south transept and the choir, and another chapel was later added to the east of the retrochoir. This was to become known as the "Bishop's chapel" as it was the burial place of Bishop Lancelot Andrewes.In the 1390s, the church was again damaged by fire, and in around 1420 the Bishop of Winchester Henry Beaufort, assisted with the rebuilding of the south transept and the completion of the tower.

During the 15th century the parochial chapel was rebuilt, and the nave and north transept were given wooden vaults following the collapse of the stone ceiling in 1469. Some of the carved bosses from the vault (destroyed in the 19th century) are preserved in the cathedral. The 15th-century poet John Gower lived in the priory precinct and is entombed in the church, with a splendid memorial, with polychrome panels. There is also a recumbent effigy of a knight in timber (rather than brass or stone) and it is suggested by the church that this dates from the 13th century. If so then this is one of the oldest such memorials and some credence can be given to the suggestion by its lack of heraldic emblems.

In around 1520 Bishop Fox carried out a programme of improvement, installing a stone altar screen, a new west doorway with a window above and a new window in the east gable of the choir. Along with all the other religious houses in England, the priory was dissolved by Henry VIII, being surrendered to the crown in 1540. In that year St Mary Overie received the new dedication of St Saviour and became the church of a new parish, which combined those of St Mary Magdalen (the attached parochial chapel) and the nearby church of St Margaret, which was deconsecrated. The parishioners leased the priory church and rectory from the Crown until 1614, when they purchased the church outright for £800.During the reign of Queen Mary heresy trials were held in the retrochoir. In January 1555, six high-ranking clergymen, including the Bishop of Gloucester, were condemned to death there.As the parish church for the Bankside area, St Saviour's had close connections with the great Elizabethan dramatists. William Shakespeare's brother, Edmund, was buried there in 1607. His grave is unmarked, but a commemorative stone was later placed in the paving of the choir. The Cathedral instituted a festival to commemorate this cultural history in the 1920s which endured into the late 20th century.There is a large stained glass window dedicated to William Shakespeare, depicting scenes from his plays, at the base of which is an alabaster statue] representing the playwright reclining, holding a quill. Two dramatists, John Fletcher and Philip Massinger were buried in the church. Along with Edward Alleyne they were officers and benefactors of the parish charities and of St Saviour's Grammar School.

John Harvard was born in the parish, and baptised in the church on 29 November 1607. He is commemorated by the Harvard Chapel in the north transept, paid for by Harvard University alumni resident in England. His father, Robert, a local butcher and inn-holder, was a business associate of Shakespeare's family and a parochial, school and church officer with the playwright's colleagues.The connection with the bishops of Winchester continued after the Reformation. One, Lancelot Andrewes, part-author of the Authorised Version, who died in 1626, was buried in a small chapel at the east end that afterwards became known as the "Bishop's Chapel". After the destruction of the chapel in 1830, his tomb was moved to a new position, immediately behind the high altar.It was from the tower of St Saviour's that the Czech artist Wenceslas Hollar drew his Long View of London from Bankside in 1647, a panorama which has become a definitive image of the city in the 17th century.

Artist biography

Marlow, William (1740/41–1813), landscape and view painter, was born probably in London or Southwark. He was apprenticed to the marine painter Samuel Scott, in whose London studio in Covent Garden he trained for five years from 1754 to 1759 and from whom he learned to paint carefully observed London scenes and river views in oil and watercolour which, like his teacher's works, clearly show the influence of Canaletto on English topographical painting at the time. Marlow probably also studied at the St Martin's Lane Academy. In the early 1760s he extended his repertoire to include picturesque landscapes which reflect seventeenth-century Dutch influences. He exhibited regularly at the Society of Artists from 1762, showing London scenes and views of east Wales, Twickenham, Worcester, and York which indicate that he was touring the countryside in search of landscape and topographical subjects. In his early years he also showed a number of ‘country house portraits’ (among them Ludlow Castle in Shropshire and Burton Agnes Hall near Bridlington) and associated views of local scenery, indicating that he was finding patrons among the landed nobility and gentry as well as in London. At an early date in his career he was employed by the duke of Northumberland, who was also a patron of Canaletto and Samuel Scott. Later Marlow ‘went on his travels to France and Italy in 1765 by the advice of the late Duchess of Northumberland’ according to an obituary notice which appeared soon after his death in January 1813 (Whitley papers, BM); a group of eight Italian paintings of Tivoli, Arriccia, and scenes in the Bay of Naples by him at Alnwick Castle suggests that the duchess was the principal sponsor for his tour of France and Italy. The earliest note of his departure is found on a drawing of an English river scene inscribed ‘William Marlow the Author of this Drawing is now studying in Italy—July 8th 1765’ (Sothebys, 1 April 1976, 166); the only other dated record of his absence occurs in Richard Hayward's list of artists in Rome in February 1766. The itinerary he followed through France and Italy is well documented by drawings and paintings, and after his return to London later in 1766 he largely specialized in producing watercolours and paintings of continental subjects which evidently proved popular as grand tour souvenirs. He showed his first such pictures at the Society of Artists in 1767, and the great majority of his 134 paintings and watercolours exhibited with the Society of Artists, the Free Society of Artists, and the Royal Academy from then onwards were of French and Italian subjects together with London views which continued the Canaletto–Scott tradition. He was one of the first English painters to exhibit views of Vesuvius erupting (Society of Artists, 1768) and dramatic alpine mountain scenery (Society of Artists, 1769).

Marlow's early success is evidenced by the painter Thomas Jones who recorded in his Memoirs for 1769 that when he was beginning his own career Marlow was one of the artists ‘in full possession of the landscape business’ (Oppé, 20), and later the Royal Academician Edward Garvey recalled to Joseph Farington that when he had first arrived in London in the 1760s he found Richard Wilson and William Marlow especially successful, and that ‘Marlow's work captivated him so much that … he thought that as a Young Man he would rather be Marlow than Wilson’ (Farington, Diary, 14 Feb 1804). In 1782 Marlow was listed among the ‘six most eminent landscape painters of our country’ by Joseph Pott in his anonymously published Essay on Landscape Painting. Marlow continued to enjoy some critical success until the end of the 1780s, and the large number of views he painted between 1767 and 1790 earned him an income large enough to move from his studio premises in Leicester Fields to the manor house at Twickenham in 1775. His patrons in the 1770s and 1780s included the dukes of Devonshire, Grafton, and Rutland, Frederick Howard, eighth earl of Carlisle, Lord Palmerston, and Horace Walpole, but business seems to have declined later and he resorted to selling his pictures at Christies St James's salerooms. Professionally he achieved recognition by his election to the Society of Artists in 1765, and he became one of its directors in 1768. His loyalty to the society led him to decline to seek membership of the Royal Academy when it was founded in the same year. Towards the end of his career, apparently in an attempt to restore his fading fortunes as an artist who had been overtaken by a new, more accomplished and adventurous generation, Marlow ventured into publishing etchings and prints, but without success. Among his last works was a series of six etchings of Italian coastal scenes (Baiae, Civitavecchia, Naples, and Pozzuoli), and two engraved London views reproducing pictures he had painted in 1792; both sets were issued by his pupil John Curtis in 1795. He virtually retired from painting about 1796 (the year he ceased exhibiting, apart from two pictures shown at the Royal Academy in 1807).

Very little is known about Marlow's personal circumstances, other than what was reported intermittently by Joseph Farington. In 1808 he recorded that:

Marlow resides at Twickenham with a man whose name is Curtis. He was a Butcher when Marlow first became acquainted with his wife, who he met at Vauxhall. He has lived more than 20 years with them, & there are now 6 or 7 children, some of them very like Marlow. A strange instance of infatuation. He still applies to painting, but with very little of his former power. (Farington, Diary, 28 June 1808)

In 1813 he was told by the painter James Northcote that ‘Marlow died possessed of property which brought him in £100 per annum’ and that ‘He was charitable, so as to expend the whole of his income. He had long given up painting for an amusement more agreeable to Him, the making of Telescopes & other Articles’ (ibid., 10 Feb 1813). When he died at Twickenham in early January 1813 aged seventy-two Marlow's estate was valued at less than £1000, and probate was granted to a sister, Eleanor Northorp. His one pupil, the same John Curtis who published his etchings in 1795 and who was part of the artist's Twickenham ‘family’, painted London views and river scenes on the Thames around Twickenham and Richmond which closely imitated those of his teacher. The Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, British Museum, and Tate collection have a number of his works.

M. J. H. Liversidge DNB