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Little Dorrit's Church

little dorrits church londonJust down the road from Southwark Cathedral, along traffic strewn Borough High Street and away from any tourist route you'll find the pretty church of St. George the Martyr.

St George the Martyr is one of the ancient parishes of Southwark and probably the first church in London to be dedicated to St George. The earliest record of the church is an entry in the Annals of Bermondsey Priory, for the year 1122.

Scarcely anything is known about the original Norman church, as it was rebuilt at the end of the 14th century. The second church appears on some early maps and drawings of Southwark and can be seen in Hogarth's picture of "Southwark Fair" in 1733.

Almost immediately after this, the church was again demolished and rebuilt, the present structure being consecrated in 1736. The architect, John Price, did not live to see its completion.

The church retains its Georgian appearance, though a spectacular new ceiling was added in 1897. Designed by Basil Champneys, in an Italianate style, it represents the glory of God breaking through the clouds, and cherubs holding scrolls with words from the Te Deum and Benedicite.

The church suffered blast damage during the Second World War and a major restoration was carried out at the beginning of the 1950s. St.George's contains galleries and an organ which had been saved from the previous building. The box pews are still present, and many organ pipes from that pre-1734 building remain.

During the middle ages, the Borough High Street, running south from London Bridge, ended at the church with St George's Fields lying beyond.

On special occasions, the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London would come out to St George's to welcome important visitors, as they did for Henry V on his return from Agincourt.

The poet John Gower left money to the church in his will. Peter Carmelianus, poet and Latin tutor to Henry VII was rector, and Nahum Tate, author of "While Shepherds watched their flocks by night", was buried here.

Two famous mathematicians, Edward Cocker and Edmund Gunther, were also associated with the church.

During the 19th century, the Borough became one of the most densely populated areas in the country and the church has strong associations with Charles Dickens, whose father was imprisoned for debt in the Marshalsea prison. The surviving wall of the prison adjoins the north side of the churchyard.

Dickens himself lived nearby, in Lant Street, lodging in a house that belonged to the Vestry Clerk of St George's.

This was during the darkest period of his life when, as a teenager, with his father in prison, he had

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