A church has stood on the site of Southwark Cathedral for over 1,000 years. The Cathedral contains several remarkable tombs and monuments. Among them is that of John Gower (c1330-1408), the poet and friend of Chaucer, whose famous Canterbury Tales begin in Southwark. Across the nave is a memorial to the great literary genius William Shakespeare – who spent much of his life in the Southwark area – and a fabulous stained glass window depicts scenes from his plays.
Early in 2001 a northern cloister was opened where once the monastic cloister stood. It offers the public a refectory, library, purpose-built shop, hi-tech visitor exhibition and conference rooms. The churchyard is landscaped to provide a serene green space at the heart of the city. Watch out for a programme of concerts and events throughout the year. Visiting is free but donations are welcomed.