Shakespeare in Stained Glass: The Shakespeare Memorials of Southwark Cathedral and "Local" Bardolatry

Brian Walsh, Yale University


This essay offers a novel history and analysis of a little known episode in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Shakespeare appropriation: Southwark Cathedral's claim to Shakespeare as its most famous parishioner. During a decade when the church was undergoing a major renovation in anticipation of its translation to a cathedral, it memorialized Shakespeare in stained glass windows, an act that anticipated the later installation there of a prominent Shakespeare effigy, and a replacement Shakespeare window when the first was destroyed in WWII. I show how the rhetoric of the Cathedral's main historian at the turn of the century shifted from making claims about the relationship between his parish and a thoroughly Christian Shakespeare to emphasizing more forcefully a "local" Shakespeare of Southwark, whose genius was nursed in South London. I suggest that this was the first iteration of the thinking that seeks to celebrate Shakespeare in a site-specific London location, the fruits of which include the new Globe Theatre in Bankside.

Samuel Colman's painting The Edge of Doom — The End of All Things and the Immortality of Shakespeare (1836-1838) depicts an apocalyptic scene in which a Londonesque city and various revered pieces of art collapse around a statue of Shakespeare. Commenting on the pitch this work makes for Shakespeare's cultural status, Diana Henderson wittily remarks: "in time, Westminster may crumble, Guido Reni may tumble, but our Bard is here to stay" (Henderson 2006, 4).
Figure 1. Samuel Colman, The Edge of Doom; Bequest of Laura L. Barnes, by exchange
Figure 1. Samuel Colman, The Edge of Doom; Bequest of Laura L. Barnes, by exchange
Colman's vision of an effigy of Shakespeare amid rubble provides a harbinger of the ominous scene that would have greeted a visitor to Southwark Cathedral, located near the foot of London Bridge on the south bank of the Thames, early in 1941. A bomb dropped by Nazi air forces in mid-February had exploded nearby the Cathedral, killing at least six people and destroying within it a series of windows that stood over an alabaster statue of Shakespeare ("Southwark Cathedral" 1941). While portions of the ancient church's edifice were shattered, the monument to Shakespeare remained.
Not all of the Cathedral's icons of Shakespeare were here to stay, though. The windows blown out by the bombing featured a stained glass representation of the poet amid texts of some of his works. The story of the Shakespeare statue, the memorial window that was shattered, and a replacement window devoted to images of Shakespeare's characters, which can still be seen today, has not been fully told or analyzed in relation to the history of Southwark, the Cathedral itself, or the broader history of nineteenth and twentieth-century Shakespearean commemoration. This essay seeks to address these multi-temporal, multi-faceted issues. I will concentrate especially on the resonances of the initial Shakespeare window installed in the 1890s in Southwark Cathedral, which at the time was still known as St. Saviour's. This window offered a Christian vision of Shakespeare that was promoted in the growing body of publicity materials produced by the church at the turn of the twentieth century. But in the emerging historiography of the parish, religious claims on Shakespeare were eventually obscured, or at least diluted, by a geographic emphasis. As I will trace through those same materials, the Christian vision of Shakespeare was gradually overshadowed by an impulse to celebrate him as primarily a local author. In the way church officials told its story, new claims were being made for the playwright as a creature of this particular South London parish where the original Globe Theatre had stood. There was much at stake for the church and its partisans as they crafted this discourse about Shakespeare as parishioner. During the last decade of the nineteenth century St. Saviour's, as a physical building and as a religious community, was emerging from a long period of decline and neglect. During the 1890s, it was restored to physical grandeur and elevated to cathedral status for a newly created Southwark diocese. The new memorials, as well as a set of books vigorously promoting the church's past, called on Shakespeare's cachet and incorporated him into the fabric of the building in an attempt to ennoble and elevate the church, its people, and its environs. For the champions of Southwark Cathedral, claims for the dignity of the church and the historical significance of the Bankside neighborhood were being settled in all these moments of appropriation, largely by establishing a connection between the parish and the golden age of Elizabethan and Jacobean culture.
While the bulk of this essay will focus on this earlier period of the original Shakespeare window, I will conclude by discussing the later development of the effigy and the post-World War II replacement window in order to assess what is at issue in all of these cases of Shakespearean appropriation. Attention to these little-known episodes can shed light on more recent attempts to commemorate Shakespeare through site-specific strategies in this same area. Today, this neighborhood is an increasingly high-traffic area for London residents and tourists. The Cathedral itself is adjacent to the extremely popular Borough Market and a number of trendy shops, galleries, restaurants, and pubs. The most visible current incarnation of Shakespeare in Southwark is, of course, the replica Globe Theatre, located just a few blocks from the Cathedral. More and more newer residents and visitors to the area experience the Cathedral and its monuments in relation to the close-by Globe.
Figure 2. Southwark Cathedral, east end
Figure 2. Southwark Cathedral, east end
They are twin shrines to a local connection with the great playwright. This cultural synergy and upscale milieu did not always exist or even seem intuitive, though. Before the mid-1890s, when the Shakespeare window was unveiled, anyone wishing to see Shakespeare commemorated in South London would have had to seek out the plaque on a brewery wall near the original Globe site which, along with the Cathedral, then sat amidst smoke-enveloped factories, warehouses, and general squalor.
The enticing new Globe Theatre and recent gentrification of Bankside represent a clear break from this past. I will suggest that the thinking behind the new Globe — the wish to localize Shakespeare through a monument to him in the part of London where he most famously thrived, and, in turn, the wish for this monument to refine the area itself — has a largely overlooked precursor: the move a century earlier by the church next door to appropriate Shakespeare's aura for its own re-emergence from a long period of deterioration. We will see also how assumptions about a metonymic relationship between Shakespeare and high culture have, in these attempts to bring him back to the traditionally hard-scrabble streets of Southwark, prevented a fully smooth homecoming for the Bard in Bankside.

Christian Shakespeare

The series of stained glass windows honoring Shakespeare in St. Saviour's were the most elaborate, but not the first of their kind in the English capital. The 1880s saw stained glass windows dedicated to Shakespeare installed in two London houses of worship, and it is worth considering these precursors first in order to put in relief the range of cultural work the Southwark window attempts to do. The first, which can still be seen today, was unveiled in St. Helen's Bishopsgate in 1884, and another was presented to the public in 1886 in the now-demolished St. James's Church in Curtain Road ("Lord Mayor Unveils the Memorial Window" 1884; "Shakespearean Memorial Window" 1886).1 The dates of these London memorials bookend the 1885 unveiling of a Shakespeare window in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. Even during the elevation of Shakespeare to national icon in the preceding century, the poet's birthplace enjoyed a monopoly on "local" ownership of its homegrown Bard. The installation of the commemorative windows in London indicates that by the late nineteenth century, the capital was beginning to stake its own claims on Shakespeare. The idea of a London provenance for Shakespeare's art is obvious enough on the face of things. He presumably wrote the majority, if not all, of his plays there, and it was in and around the city that they were principally performed. And yet this fact had largely been obscured by, on the one hand, the general universalizing of Shakespeare's genius and the concomitant emphasis on him as a poet detached from the material world of the London theaters; and, on the other hand, the tourist business that emerged in the eighteenth century in Stratford to make the argument that, if there were any particular place that could be viewed as sacred Shakespearean ground, it was the banks of the Avon (Watson 2007, 199-200).
Newspaper advertisements that announced the unveiling of the windows at St. Helen's and St. James's emphasized Shakespeare's connections to the respective parishes in his professional and personal life. A blurb in one paper informing the public that the Mayor and other local dignitaries would unveil the window at St. Helen's states that Shakespeare "was an inhabitant of the parish in the early part of his career," while a similar advertisement for the unveiling of the window at St. James's notes that the church is "situated opposite the spot where the Curtain Theatre used to stand" ("Lord Mayor Unveils the Memorial Window" 1884; "Shakespearean Memorial Window" 1886). A plaque near the St. James's window noted that it was erected to mark the "tercentenary of the Poet's arrival in London" (Ordish 1899, 281). St. Helen's promoted the reputed actual presence of Shakespeare in the church itself: there is evidence, as the press announcement states, that he was at one time a resident of the parish (Nicholl 2007, 40-42). In the case of St. James's, a church that was only erected in 1841, the church highlights a more diffuse Shakespearean association through marking Shakespeare's connection with the Elizabethan-era theaters that had been located in the neighborhood of Shoreditch.
The rhetoric promoting these ventures pursues a local angle in the parishes' respective claims to Shakespeare, and, despite the setting in houses of worship, the window designs eschew religious overtones. The imagery in both presents a secular Shakespeare as laurel-crowned author, bequeathing the fruits of his imagination to the world. One observer even seems to have had a pagan connotation in mind when, describing the St. James's window in 1899, he called it a "memorial of the genius loci" of the old Shoreditch theaters near the church (Ordish 1899, 281). The fact that Shakespeare is inscribed in the church architecture did not make him seem more Christian, nor did the windows themselves attempt to mark him this way; rather, they presented him as a spirit of culture presiding over the churches and their neighborhoods.
The window dedicated to Shakespeare a few years later in St. Saviour's church in Southwark also emphasized a local connection between Shakespeare and the parish, although it combines this emphasis with overtly religious claims for Shakespeare. The driving force in charge of the window memorial seems to have been one Reverend William Thompson, who had been affiliated with St. Saviour's in various offices since the 1870s.2
Figure 3. Rev. William Thompson
Figure 3. Rev. William Thompson
In 1892, Thompson published a short book about the church's history, which he eventually expanded and then split into two works: a shorter guide to the monuments and fixtures and a longer narrative history of the church and the parish that was still, at heart, intended as a guidebook for touring the building. Both versions went through multiple revised editions between 1892 and 1910, and Thompson documents in them the addition of the window. The books, in particular the longest version published posthumously in 1910, are still the most comprehensive treatments of the Cathedral and its history. Through these books, we gain insight into Thompson's thinking about the uses to which Shakespeare might be put in telling the story of St. Saviour's, in print and in stained glass. Shakespeare, he discovered, had a role to play in the radical reimagining of Southwark's grand, but often-neglected, Gothic church.
As part of the commemoration, Shakespeare shared space in St. Saviour's with other literary figures from his time. An image of Edmund Spenser appeared in a panel of the Shakespeare window, and adjacent to this, along the south aisle of the church nave, other windows memorialized Philip Massinger, Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher, and Edward Alleyn. The subjects of this series were not chosen at random. Most had a documented connection with the church as parishioners, as in the case of Fletcher and Alleyn, or as non-residents who nonetheless found a final resting place here, like Massinger, who was reportedly put in the same grave as Fletcher. Shakespeare's connection was two-fold. Shakespeare's brother Edmund, an obscure player, was buried in the church in 1607, perhaps at his famous brother's expense. Firmer evidence for Shakespeare's association with St. Saviour's comes from documents that indicate he was living in the Winchester Diocese in the late 1590s, around the time that the Globe opened, in which case he would almost certainly have belonged to St. Saviour's parish (Hales 1904; Schoenbaum 1987, 222-23).3 The church thus sought to commemorate the fact that leading lights from the early modern theater had lived and worked within the parish.
Beyond such basic connections, though, the windows promoted all of these figures as good members of the true faith. The non-Shakespearean windows were single lights, divided horizontally into separate panels that contribute to a larger religious theme. The Edward Alleyn window depicted the famed actor in one panel reading out his bequest to create a college, and includes in another panel a figure of Christian charity and text from the Psalms: "Come, ye children, hearken unto me." The Fletcher window includes a representation of the dramatist, along with a scene inspired by Fletcher's Knight of Malta that portrays St. John the Baptist, as well as a knight who is being invested in the Maltese order by two Bishops. The Massinger window, inspired by a scene from his play The Virgin Martyr, shows St. Dorothea in one panel and in another, a scene in which a doubting observer to her execution is later converted to Christianity when he perceives a miracle after her death (Thompson 1898, 55 ff; Thompson 1904, 270-88).4
Figure 4. Philip Massigner Memorial Window
Figure 4. Philip Massigner Memorial Window
The Shakespeare window continues in this vein. It is a triplet window executed by the famous stained glass company of Charles Eamer Kempe. The center light features the Muse of Poetry sitting on a throne, with a dove above her.
Figure 5. Photograph of the 1897 Shakespeare Memorial Window
Figure 5. Photograph of the 1897 Shakespeare Memorial Window
According to Thompson, this is "the symbol of the spirit of God, and of the inspiration of the Almighty, the source of all that is good in literature." A quotation from the Book of Wisdom was inscribed at the base of the window: "Doctrix disciplinae Dei, et electrix operum illius" ([She is the teacher of the knowledge of God, and the chooser of His words]; Thompson 1904, 301). Shakespeare was represented to the left of this Christian Muse, and at his feet were visible copies of his plays (Stevens 1922, 25). Thompson's description of the transmission of heavenly doctrine from the dove/spirit of God, to the Muse, to Shakespeare suggests why an old playwright might belong in a church: his work is merged with divine teaching. That this graphic remembrance of Shakespeare was ultimately meant to be an act of religious piety is reinforced by an inscription on the window, placed below the Muse of Poetry, provided by the Shakespeare scholar John Hales: "To the glory of God, in gratitude for His good gift to men in the genius of William Shakespeare" (Thompson, 1904, 293).
The inclusion of Spenser disrupted the larger series of windows by admitting a poet to the dramatic fraternity. The fact that Spenser has no known links to the church or the parish makes his presence even odder, given the trend of honoring those believed to have been parishioners, or those who were at least buried in the church. Spenser was placed in the window to the right of the Muse. She held in her left hand, the one facing Spenser, a book labeled "Poesis." Spenser held a copy of the Faerie Queene, and at his feet other copies of his epic were opened. Moralistic tags that emphasize elements of the poem as Christian allegory, such as "Una and the Lion" and "House of Pride" could be read there, creating a consistent Christian theme with the Shakespeare portion of the window. Spenser was long heralded as the poet of the Elizabethan Settlement, and his addition to the window series — indeed, the fact that he actually shares space in the same window with Shakespeare — can best be explained as an attempt to strengthen by association Shakespeare's status as an orthodox Protestant. The window looks superficially as though the two poets — especially Shakespeare, who stands with open book and quill in hand — are Gospel writers awaiting dictation from the divine being in the center, a means of associating their literary work with the work of the Word.
Thompson was evidently anxious to quell doubts over Shakespeare's religiosity. In longer editions of his book, under the heading "His [Shakespeare's] Creed," Thompson writes: "Some have tried to prove that he was an unbeliever. The tone and tendency, however, of his writings are plainly on the side of religion" (Thompson 1904, 296). Thompson is quick to clarify that Shakespeare's putative Christianity is of the "Anglican" variety, and he is careful to dismiss the persistent rumors of the poet's Catholicism (Thompson 1904, 296-97). Whether or not Thompson intended his stained glass Shakespeare to be a deliberate reaction to the more secular windows dedicated to the playwright in St. Helen's and St. James's is not known, but the Southwark glass does stand out from the others in its overt Judeo-Christian imagery and text. Thompson made explicit efforts to promote the windows as seamless celebrations of dramatic genius and Godliness. In the Shakespeare window, drama itself is given explicit license from God. There, in symmetry with the "Poesis" book in her left hand, the Judeo-Christian Muse held in her right hand a book labeled "Ludi," in an attempt to address the heretofore tainted past of Southwark. On the "wrong side of the river," Bankside was notorious in Shakespeare's age for its taverns, blood-sport arenas, gaming venues, and whorehouses as well as its theaters, which were aligned in some strains of Christian thinking with blasphemy, bawdy language, and lewd, morally polluting behavior. Thompson looks to heal the old antagonism between stage and pulpit when he dismisses the anti-theatrical view as "bigoted," a push back against his own early modern predecessors at St. Saviour's, who intermittently quarreled with and sought to shut down their theatrical neighbors (Thompson 1904, 296).5 He quotes admiringly a scholar who wrote that the works of Shakespeare, like those of Spenser, "trained and exercised men's minds to virtue and religion" (Thompson 1904, 296).6
Thompson's window and books claim Shakespeare as an ardent Christian loyal to the Elizabethan Settlement's version of Christianity, and thus work to launder him clean of age-old charges that he lacked interest in religion, that he was a crypto-papist, and more generally that his writing was compromised by a corrupting stage milieu. By affirming that Shakespeare was not merely safe for the Church of England, but that he was also an active promoter of Christian values whose enduring popularity gave continued vigor to the circulation of those values, Thompson trumpeted the probity of his church through the Shakespearean link. This particular church, he seemed to say, helped to nurture Shakespeare's religious feeling. And the great poet's works were infused with a moral goodness that reflected his parish.
Beside the difference in the emphasis on Christianity, though, the key factor that distinguishes the Southwark windows is that they were created to enhance their church in a more significant way than was the case with the earlier ones. The windows in St. Helen's and St. James's were added as a fairly limited means of honoring the churches' past alliance with greatness, but were not part of any larger effort to re-think the churches' status or the place of these parishes in London. In the case of St. Saviour's, the installation of the Shakespeare window, along with the windows dedicated to some of his contemporaries, was directly connected to a larger effort on behalf of the Church of England to perform a major renovation of the church and the parish in which it sat, both in terms of the physical church building and in terms of its reputation and function in metropolitan London.
As the proliferation of Thompson's books attests, a vigorous attempt to publicize the church's history accompanied this physical renovation. St. Saviour's, in the late nineteenth century, was in need of both forms of resuscitation. It is one of the capital's most ancient churches — its basic edifice has stood on the southern bank of the Thames near London Bridge for centuries — but it has never been well known. Originally called St. Mary Overie's, its oldest foundations date to the Norman era, when it was built to serve as the church for an Augustinian priory. The building was seized by Henry VIII in the early years of the Reformation and re-named St. Saviour's when, by an act of Parliament, it became a parish church for the surrounding community (Thompson 1894, 40, Monroe 1933, 29-30). Traditionally part of the Winchester Diocese, St. Saviour's was reassigned in 1877 to the Diocese of Rochester. The parish was by and large very poor, and church officials began to feel that its people could be better served by a closer bishopric. This was only a temporary measure, though. By this time a movement was already afoot to create a new diocese of Southwark, one that could be even more immediately responsive to the needs of South Londoners. In 1889, the Bishop of Rochester announced at a meeting in St. Saviour's his intent to attend closely to the parish's ancient physical church, declaring that "the great if not absorbing duty of the next few years" would be the restoration of the church building ("St. Saviour's Southwark" 1890, 394).7 This signaled a major intervention in talk about the future of the church. For almost one hundred years, parishioners had debated among themselves over the burdens of maintaining the old, crumbling building versus the benefits of demolishing all or large portions of the existing structure and rebuilding a modern parish church on a smaller scale.8 With the Bishop's proclamation, the traditionalists, enamored with the Gothic architecture and long history of the building, won out. When the church reconstructions were substantially complete in 1905, the new diocese of Southwark was created. St. Saviour's was elevated to its present-day status as a cathedral and given its current name, Southwark Cathedral.
It was during this time when the church edifice was being extensively restored and beautified in preparation for its re-birth as a cathedral that the set of windows dedicated to luminaries of the Elizabethan and Jacobean literary world were planned and executed. The decision to place Shakespeare among other playwrights is a nod to the church's various theatrical associations and suggests an initial reluctance to single him out as deserving a more special place than his fellows. But even in the earliest version of his book, the short guide from 1892, Thompson specifically names Shakespeare as the church's "most distinguished PARISHIONER [sic], who lived and wrote some of the most magnificent of his masterpieces in this Parish for representation at his own theatre, the Globe, of Bankside; the site of which . . . is close at hand. It was in this Parish the genius of William Shakespeare rose to its greatest height" (Thompson 1892, 35). While the series of windows does contextualize Shakespeare as one among many devout dramatists and players tied to the church, he was also singled out as extraordinary even before the series was conceived, a trend that continued in descriptions of the windows once they were all unveiled. During this period, Shakespeare was always the focus of the church's celebration of its literary past. He was placed even over and above the great medieval poet John Gower, who was buried in St. Saviour's in a sumptuous monument centuries before Shakespeare's time and whose Christian bona fides needed no apology.
Shakespeare could not help but stand out. No other English author, early modern or otherwise, had, by the late nineteenth century begun to attract outright veneration. The incorporation of Shakespeare into the fabric of an Anglican church thus broaches questions about the status of Shakespeare in late-Victorian religious discourse at large. In a way that is inconceivable in relation to Massinger and the others, this status put Shakespeare in competition with the Christian God for attention in the church. It was in 1892 that Alfred Tennyson, on his death bed, is reputed to have called out "Where is my Shakespeare? I must have my Shakespeare" (Decker 2003). That one would call on Shakespeare for comfort while at the point of death elevates him to quasi-divine status, and also suggests that appreciation of Shakespeare's genius could replace traditional modes of Christian piety. Tennyson's choice to self-administer a version of the Last Rites through perusing his Shakespeare justifies G. B. Shaw's neologism "Bardolater," which he introduced just a few years later. If Tennyson, in 1892, exemplifies a trend to regard the work of Shakespeare as a kind of secular scripture, the presence of Shakespeare in stained glass in St. Saviour's was promoted as in harmony, rather than competition, with Christian piety (Laporte 2007).
And yet such arguments, while useful for establishing a place for Shakespeare in the walls and the history of the church, were also limited. Claims about Shakespeare's religious convictions are notoriously slippery, while claims about the location of Shakespeare's professional milieu in St. Saviour's parish could be more confidently pressed. The emphasis on Shakespeare over and above his fellows, despite the fact that his work is arguably the least moralistic and recognizably Christian among the authors in the window series, reveals the tensions inherent in attempts to harmonize Bardolatry with Christian feeling. Indeed, the decision to emphasize Shakespeare points to the greater appeal that his uncontested worldly fame held for the church's make-over strategy when compared with the more difficult claims to his religious orthodoxy. Thompson and his successor rectors and church historians never dropped their characterization of Shakespeare as a Christian. But as time went on, it became less central to their vision of Southwark Cathedral's past than what might be called the "Shakespeare slept here" angle. Attempts to maintain the religious focus became strained. Consider, for instance, Thompson's report in the 1910 edition of his book on the church's first Shakespeare commemoration service, held on the playwright's birthday in 1909, where he oddly states that "the fact that two laymen, a poet, and an actor, took the principal part in the proceedings seemed only to intensify the solemnity and religious character of the occasion" (Thompson 1910, 356k).9 At the turn of the century, more and more attention was lavished on the re-modeled, re-designated church as a vital thread in the fabric of London history. The length of Thompson's books increased edition to edition, as he and other journalists and observers began to revel in and foreground more prominently an antiquarian perspective on the history of the parish, one in which the significance of Southwark to Shakespeare's achievements, and, therefore, the significance of Southwark to English history is given pride of place above arguments for Shakespeare's Christianity.

Local Shakespeare

A brief nod to Shakespeare as St. Saviour's "most distinguished parishioner" in the 1892 edition of Thompson's guide book is only a side note to his history of the church. Thompson's interest in expounding on Shakespeare and his connections to the parish would grow in ensuing editions of both the shorter and longer guides. The more involved Thompson became in trying to write a narrative history of the church, the more convinced he seems to have become that Shakespeare should play a conspicuous role in that history. In subsequent editions he adds more biographical information, as well as the assessments of Shakespeare's work in relation to Christian thought and feeling that we have just considered. In the 1910 edition, published after Thompson's unexpected death in 1909, he devotes a full thirteen pages to Shakespeare, promoting his genius, refuting the nefarious Baconian authorship theories, and even attempting to excuse Shakespeare's "effeminate" wearing of an earring in the Chandos portrait by describing it as an unfortunate trend of his age that the poet failed to avoid (Thompson 1904, 291).
Thompson's investment in this "local" angle — that Shakespeare was of this parish — was essential to the larger case being made for the historical importance of the parish and the physical structure of the church itself. It was a claim of continuity with the putative Elizabethan Golden Age; other local landmarks like the old London Bridge, Winchester Palace, and the theaters themselves were all gone. But St. Saviour's remained, a prominent part of Shakespeare's own everyday landscape that was still available to turn of the century Londoners. To emphasize the Shakespeare link was to make a bid for St. Saviour's as a space steeped with aura where Shakespeare's presence might be easily imagined, even on some level still felt by the visitor whose historical consciousness had been properly enlightened.
The proximity of the original Globe Theatre to the church was crucial to Thompson's discussion of Shakespeare. Thompson cites a collection of scholars, starting with Edmund Malone, to show that Shakespeare was a resident of Southwark and a parishioner at St. Saviour's, and tracks the evidence, some of which was turning up in the very years he was writing his books, about the playwright's London life.10 By the 1904 edition, he renders irrelevant the fact that no particular residential address for Shakespeare in Southwark is known: "I may add that people who carry on their business in any parish are parishioners, although their private residences are situated elsewhere. The Globe, once in St. Saviour's, was Shakespeare's place of business" (Thompson 1904, 292-93, emphasis in original).
Beginning with the 1904 edition of his guidebook, Thompson includes a rudimentary map of the church's neighborhood in order to illustrate the place of the Globe in the parish.
Figure 6. Map of St. Saviour's and the Original Globe Site
Figure 6. Map of St. Saviour's and the Original Globe Site
St. Saviour's and the site of the original Globe Theatre are marked, and a series of arrows tracing the route along Clink and Park Streets are illustrated to connect them. He writes above the diagram, "Let me lead the lover of Shakespeare to the place where the Globe stood. The accompanying plan will help us" (Thompson 1904, 300). He also includes a detailed set of walking instructions from the door of the church to the Globe site.11 As I have noted, Thompson intended his books, even the longer versions, first and foremost as practical guides for touring the Cathedral. He envisions here a parishioner or a visitor to Southwark Cathedral who might perambulate the church to gaze on and appreciate its antiquities, and then be inspired to walk to the Globe site a few blocks away on Park Street, carrying with them a sense that Shakespeare is braided with the church's past. The map encourages readers to enjoy a spatial experience of that association — a kind of performance of history they can undertake — by walking the short distance from the church grounds to the Globe site, perhaps even with the fantasy of retracing Shakespeare's own steps between them. From being a guide to the history and furniture of the church building, the book here becomes a guide to discovering Shakespeare's own London, and the literal place St. Saviour's had in it as part of his quotidian experience.12
In 1897, the year the window was unveiled, Shakespeare did not need to be celebrated in the proto-Southwark Cathedral to be considered important. But Southwark Cathedral at this time did need Shakespeare in order to secure its claim to being one of the most important ecclesiastical structures in the nation, and to being perhaps behind only Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's in significance in the history of London churches. The church was barely removed from a moment when it faced threats of the wrecking ball. The massive investment in its renovation, and its new status as the seat of a bustling diocese in the capital, lent the church more long-term security than it had enjoyed for decades. A recurring feature in the rhetoric of the Cathedral's supporters — one evident in the early twentieth century, and still evident today — is the sense that it has been too long overlooked; that it is a gem hidden in plain sight, unappreciated or, more often, simply unnoticed, by the hordes of Londoners and tourists who pass by it each day as they walk over London Bridge ("London's Hidden Cathedral" 1912; H. G. 1931, 113; Stevens 1949, "Preface").13 Its advocates set about cementing also the church's claims to fame and raising its profile through circulating a storied version of its past.
Pierre Nora has theorized the creation of what he calls lieux de mémoire, physical "places of memory" that are "embodiments of a memorial consciousness," as "moments of history torn away from the movement of history, then returned" (Nora 1989, 12). The Southwark Cathedral memorials to Shakespeare, as places of memory in Nora's sense, were constructed in part to highlight and foreground the place as urgently significant to the history of the capital and the nation. They host the return of the moment of Shakespeare's presence in the Bankside neighborhood to the consciousness of early twentieth-century London. Thompson puts his diagram of the route to the Globe site in his guidebook to begin the process of adding that old theatrical place to his own church as another, intimately linked, lieu de mémoire. He thus strengthens the association between St. Saviour's and Shakespeare by calling attention, in graphic form, to the proximity of the church to the site of the vanished theater, revered in the historical imagination because it was Shakespeare's theatre. He counts on an assumed interest in Shakespeare as a bid to put the Cathedral and its area more visibly on the map of historical London and more forcibly in the mental constellation of places in the city that matter for residents and visitors.
The claim that Thompson makes on Shakespeare for his parish reaches an apogee when he strikes, politely but forcefully, at the heart of the de facto local claim to Shakespeare:
Without the smallest desire to deprive Stratford-on-Avon of one particle of that high honour which it proudly enjoys as the birthplace of Shakespeare, we should like it to be remembered that he belongs more truly to London, and especially to St. Saviour's, where he spent the best, if not the greater, part of his days, and where all his mighty works were done. (Thompson 1904, 292)14
"He belongs more truly to London": this is a vague statement. What does it mean to "belong" to a place? Why, in the long run, does it matter? Does localizing Shakespeare in this way provide a fantasy of access to the past through rediscovering the sites he physically touched, or the dream that some aura of the playwright himself, or of the Elizabethan era more broadly, is more palpable in some places than in others? Thompson does not elaborate. It is enough for him to make such blanket assertions about his parish's historical richness. But the effect of his rhetoric is to establish his church as a pilgrimage site in the veneration of Shakespeare. As the Church of England turned St. Saviour's into a Cathedral, Thompson turned it into an altar of Bardolatry. Shakespeare was no longer just a person who had once worshipped in St. Saviour's. In keeping with larger trends in Bardolatry throughout the era, he himself was now enshrined in glass as an object of worship there.

Shakespeare vs. Southwark

There is a further, fascinating twist to the story of the Cathedral advocates' devotion to this patch of Southwark as a privileged site because of its Shakespearean connotations, one that has reverberations for some of the controversies that emerged over the construction of the new Globe Theatre in the 1980s and 1990s: how well suited is post-Shakespearean Southwark to serve as a place of Shakespearean commemoration? As much as turn-of-the-century boosters of the Cathedral wanted to praise the history of the building and of Southwark's Shakespearean ties, they also explicitly express dissatisfaction with the current state of the area. The great Shakespeare scholar and editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, Sidney Lee, wrote in 1905 about various other, grander plans then afoot to pay tribute to Shakespeare in London. He pointedly dismisses Southwark as a worthy site, claiming that there would be an "awkward incongruity in introducing" a great public monument into the "serried ranks" of "Southwark wharves." He goes on to say, more damningly, that the "genius loci has fled from Southwark" (Lee, 1906, 227-28). For Lee, celebrating Shakespeare in London made sense. But commemorating him in one of the presently dilapidated neighborhoods in which he had lived and worked was absurd. Attempts to show local appreciation for the Bard in the capital could only go so far before they would break under the pressure of geographic impropriety.
This feeling was shared, perhaps surprisingly, by Thompson himself, whose vivid description of the contemporary neighborhood draws power from incongruity: "Bankside — where it [the Globe] stood — Poet and Player Land, as it has been styled — in spite of its gaunt warehouses and grim workshops, its old iron, broken glass, creaking cranes, and sordid alleys, is one of the most famous spots in Europe" (Thompson 1894, 128). Thompson saw the juxtaposition of this past with the "sordid" present as impetus for further restoration, restoration that would move out from the church to the neighboring streets. In the 1910 edition of his book, published posthumously after his sudden death in 1909, Thompson notes in the preface that the poor condition of the Cathedral's neighborhood was a matter of urgent concern. He writes that one of "our present needs" is "a clean and decent PRIVATE APPROACH from the High Street," saying that this is a "pressing and vital necessity, the lack of which is a discouragement to congregations and visitors" (Thompson 1910, 4b). Other writers of the time also express reservations about whether the actual site of the Cathedral is worthy of the building and its historical associations ("A Cathedral's Undignified Approach," 1910). The grim poverty and the indices of industrialization that surrounded St. Saviour's in the nineteenth century were the stuff of Dickens and other social reform-minded Victorians. These were the very conditions that created momentum for the creation of a Southwark diocese and made possible the elevation of the church to its status as a cathedral in the first place. Yet they were soon after seen as embarrassments to the newly renovated Cathedral's dignity.
That there was an emerging tension between pressing claims for past greatness and resolving present conditions can be seen as well in a perhaps unexpected source. In 1899, when St. Saviour's had been declared a pro-Cathedral in anticipation of its eventual elevation to Cathedral status in 1905, an investigator interviewed Thompson as part of the philanthropist Charles Booth's massive survey of London poverty. Only a few lines of the interview made it into the printed version of the Booth study. But a set of unpublished notes from the interview exist in the archives of the London School of Economics. There we find that, at least according to the investigator, Thompson seemed unaware of the daily lives of most of his parishioners, and that he left to his subordinates social outreach and ministrations to the poor. The investigator finds him to be a thoroughly amiable and decent man, but he also notes wryly that Thompson seems more the "custodian of the general church than the parish priest." He continues: "I could scarcely get him to talk at all about the parish and its work . . . but [he] told me about its [the church's] history, showed me round, and explained its [interest] and beauty" (Booth Collection 1899).15 Thompson filled out — in a very "casual" way, according to the investigator — a form for the survey that is collected with the interview notes (Booth Collection 1899). There Thompson writes that the church population is "Rich and poor," but nearby is the terse addition, "Rich non-resident." The well-heeled parishioners, those most likely to contribute money for the creation and upkeep of church monuments, and those more likely to be well-educated and familiar with Shakespeare and his work, came from outside the immediate area of the church (Booth Collection 1899).
The church's uninspiring physical surroundings become fodder for a conflict between Southwark as a place in turn-of-the-century London and Southwark's "place" in history. The investigator quotes Thompson as saying that, as the renovations proceed, the church "is becoming beautiful and worthy of the place it will shortly assume" — that is to say, of being a cathedral (Booth Collection 1899, 107). The place it would assume also refers to attempts to make the cathedral a site of artistic and intellectual refinement. A recent historian of popular culture in late Victorian and Edwardian Southwark has claimed that after its designation as pro-Cathedral in 1897, the same year the Shakespeare window was unveiled, the church "remained aloof from the parishioners, functioning primarily as a trans-local centre for culture and music" (Williams 1999, 44). By the 1920s, indeed, the Cathedral was renowned for its choir and its organ music. Concerts held there were admiringly reviewed in the London papers, and radio broadcasts from the church made it known to a much wider public as a site for gentility and art (H. G. 1931). The idea that local, poorer parishioners were perhaps alienated from the grand new church and its urbane aspirations at the turn of the century is suggested by comments Thompson makes to the interviewer about diminishing attendance at daily services, a hint that he elaborates on in a note to the next edition of his book in 1904. Thompson specifically links the decline to the church's expanding musical program. As he enumerates the lower attendance figures, Thompson reasons that it is because "the people are not yet accustomed to the elaborate musical services which the new order of things has introduced" (Thompson 1904, 247).
Thompson's obituary in the Guardian newspaper confirms the centrality of antiquarian enthusiasm to his life as a whole. It notes that his "great delight was in antiquarian research; and all that belonged to the past history of S[t]. Saviour was his special study" ("Rev. William Thompson Obituary" 1909). It does not once mention any aspect of Thompson's spiritual office or ministrations to the poor and needy who made up the bulk of his parish. The focus of nearly the entire obituary is on his love of the church's past, and, echoing the private notes of the Booth investigator, how "he took great pleasure in personally conducting parties around the Cathedral, imparting to them the stores of information he possessed" ("Rev. William Thompson Obituary" 1909).
At the turn of the century, the most immediate problems facing the residents of the old St. Saviour's parish, the neighborhoods that now surrounded the seat of the new Southwark Diocese, were issues of crime, poverty, health, and economic opportunity. One hopeful article about the proposed new diocese, written in 1890 when plans for the transformation were stirring, states that St. Saviour's cannot be restored to be "a mere antiquarian relic"; that "it ought to be, and unless a great opportunity is thrown away, it will be, a centre and a rallying point for all Church work in South London . . . in daily touch with the people, grimy with London smoke, and its stones worn with the feet of the London poor" ("St. Saviour's Southwark" 1890, 413-14). The Guardian obituary and the comments of the Booth interviewer — a person looking specifically into the relation of the church to the daily lives of its members — indicate that to some degree this opportunity was indeed lost. Unlike Sidney Lee, the scholar who felt that the genius loci had abandoned South London, Thompson did not dismiss Southwark altogether as a site for Shakespeare memorials. In one sense, we might say that Thompson began to envision that such monuments could have a transformative effect on the area — or to put it more cynically, that he felt they could perform a kind of erasure of the area as it existed at the end of the nineteenth century and re-constitute it as a site of cultural refinement based on historical connections to Shakespeare.
Thompson began to imagine what such a wide-scale demolition and renovation would look like. He conjured a largely unprecedented version of Southwark that would coincide with the beautifying work being done on the Cathedral building and would affirm the modern association of Shakespeare with high culture. He ends the last edition of his book that he completed in his lifetime with a brief visionary paragraph:
A Dream. — The site of the old Cloisters — the ground between the Cathedral and the Thames — cleared. Bankside, a boulevard rivaling the Victoria and Albert Embankments. The ungainly warehouses and ugly structures in the vicinity . . . moved further afield. The railways from Charing Cross and Cannon Street driven underground. Winchester Park with its trees and gardens and wide spaces restored. And "the most famous theatre the world has ever seen" rebuilt on a scale and in a style worthy of a world's homage to the genius of Shakespeare. (Thompson 1910, 356u)16
This is a vision of a Southwark that had never existed, one that would not be recognizable to denizens of the Borough in the 1590s or the 1890s, but that might be familiar to those of 2012. If Thompson could walk today from Southwark Cathedral along Clink Street to the Thames Path, the Bankside Jetty, and the Jubilee Walkway as far as Waterloo Bridge, he would see something like what he here imagines: a Southwark that indeed features a replica of the Globe as well as the National Theatre complex, where these stages are detached from the seedy Elizabethan circuit of brothels and animal baiting rings and the gritty urban enclave of the late nineteenth century. This esplanade, inviting to tourists as well as Londoners, boasts theaters, art galleries — including the magnificent Tate Modern — outdoor concert venues, shops, restaurants, and even some hint, here and there, of "trees and gardens and wide spaces." The origins of this Southwark, at least the area between the Cathedral and the Tate Modern, lie largely in the urban renewal energies that helped nurture the new Globe. The current glow of Bankside serves also as a validation of Thompson's conviction, first crystallized in glass and then elaborated on in his books, that exploiting Shakespeare's connections to South London provides cultural capital to Southwark and its institutions, allowing it to become the hub of gentility and civilized leisure to which it had for so long seemed antithetical.
But Thompson's "dream" captures as well the complexity of urban renewal schemes, which so often obscure who wins and who loses in such undertakings and which equivocate about where transformation leaves off and displacement begins. The "new" Globe project itself occasioned controversy when charges arose that it posed threats to housing and job opportunities for poorer members of the community, and that it would enrich only outside developers (Holderness 1988; Drakakis 1988). The clash between high culture and everyday need that was present when St. Saviour's became Southwark Cathedral has echoed over the past thirty years as newer, bigger efforts have been put in place to commemorate the area's Shakespearean heritage.17
David Wiles writes astutely about the idealism behind the site-specific commemoration of the Shakespeare Globe project: the "new Globe offers a challenge to the notion that urban space is homogenous and infinitely malleable. It offers the spectator a reassuring sense that he or she inhabits a structured 'world' or 'cosmos,' and not the fragmentary condition of postmodernity. It provides a physical center around which values can be constructed" (Wiles 2003, 60). Such rhetoric can be persuasively retrofitted to the Southwark Cathedral Shakespeare memorials. The memorials were constructed largely to make the case for the Cathedral as just such a "reassuring" place as Wiles describes, a point of stability and a space of continuity with the glories of the past and with the genius of the master poet-thinker-philosopher-moralist of modernity. The memorials have the flavor of honoring Shakespeare for his transcendent brilliance, but they are, at the same time, urgently local and contingent. They serve a present-tense desire that was felt mainly by Thompson and other elites, but was broadcast as a more widespread need. It was a need to re-Christen, as it were, the church and its neighborhood as sacralized space. The space was made holy by the past presence of Shakespeare, and to memorialize that presence through physical monuments confers charismatic authority on the cathedral, thus making it the most fitting portal to commune with his legacy and to enrich life in the here and now.

Genius Loci

The next chapters in the story of the Shakespeare memorials in Southwark Cathedral involve the Shakespeare effigy and the new Shakespeare window, both of which can still be seen in the church. Each is a complex instance of Shakespeare appropriation that builds on, and expands the scope of, many of the issues with which I have dealt. Their histories are too involved to explore fully here. By way of conclusion, I will provide a brief overview of how they came to be, and how they continue to signify today.
Up until his death, Thompson was supervising plans to expand the church's commemoration of Shakespeare in a way that would show how intimately the playwright was implicated in Southwark. In the last edition of his book, he announces a proposal to install an effigy of Shakespeare beneath the Shakespeare window, and includes a precise artist's sketch of what the statue and its setting would eventually look like (Thompson 1910, 356s).18 The statue depicts a recumbent Shakespeare lounging on his side, legs casually crossed, leaning on his elbow and supporting his head with his hand, as if the famous Scheemaker's effigy from Westminster had decided to lie down for a bit. Although the niche in which he rests resembles at first glance a sepulcher, closer inspection reveals it to be more of a museum-like diorama. This is not Shakespeare reposing in death, but in life, in (literal) touch with his environment. Reverend T. P. Stevens was one of Thompson's immediate successors as a clergyman-historian of the Cathedral. In a short guide of his own on the Cathedral that he began writing after Thompson's death, Stevens describes the carved setting of the finished product. In the niche behind the effigy could be seen, "above the shoulder of the poet . . . the tower of" St. Saviour's, "the same tower [that] dominated the landscape during the years he [Shakespeare] lived in the parish. The little building on the left represents Winchester Palace, which was at the height of its magnificence in the sixteenth century . . . further to the left . . . is the Globe Playhouse . . . on the extreme right may be seen a representation of the southern gateway of London Bridge" (Stevens 1949, 20). Here is a life-sized, three dimensional Shakespeare set in the heart of Elizabethan Bankside, and so framed by his theater and his parish church.
The statue came to fruition and was unveiled beneath the window in 1912, three years after Thompson's death, in a ceremony presided over by Sidney Lee, who evidently had softened somewhat in his view that Southwark was inhospitable ground for Shakespearean monuments ("A Shakespeare Shrine" 1912).
Figure 7. The Shakespeare Effigy in Southwark Cathedral
Figure 7. The Shakespeare Effigy in Southwark Cathedral
He concluded his remarks by saying, "In reverence I unveil this witness in stone to Shakespeare's name; a monument firmly planted in the heart of the district where he did much of his undying work, where he first gave earnest of his measureless influence" (quoted in Symon 1929, xv). The event was attended by many scholars and actors, conferring academic and celebrity star power on the Cathedral and its Shakespearean claims. Annual birthday events dedicated to Shakespeare began to be celebrated in the Cathedral around this time, and newspaper accounts for the next several years always note the turnout among actors, academics, and sometimes members of the aristocracy.
When the dramatic window series was destroyed in 1941 by German bombing, it was not considered so terrible a blow; compared to the constant strain and catastrophe of the Blitz at large and the tragedy of the six individuals killed from the blast that destroyed the windows, the loss was comparatively small. The lack of permanent structural damage to the Cathedral made most members of the church community simply grateful it was not worse ("The Bishop's Letter" 1941). But by the later 1940s, internal church records show the slow development of plans among its custodians to replace at least the Shakespeare window. In 1952, the vestry commissioned such a work from the stained glass artist Christopher Webb. Patrons of the fund to raise money for the window included the actor John Gielgud and Shakespeare scholar J. Dover Wilson, as the church proprietors cannily gathered both theatrical and academic stars for their cause (Southwark Cathedral Vestry Minutes, 1949-1954).19 There was no effort to re-create the dramatic fraternity that had once lined the south aisle. This was post-war Britain: resources were scarce, and the committee limited their vision to replacing only the most prominent of the church's famous sons, the one who had always mattered most. The spaces that had depicted Massinger, Fletcher, Beaumont, and Alleyn are currently filled with clear glass.
A new version of Shakespeare in stained glass was unveiled on 23 April, 1954 at the annual birthday celebration by Sybil Thorndike, a well-known actress. In her remarks, Thorndike compared the light passing through the window to the light of God passing through Shakespeare's work ("Memorial Window to Shakespeare" 1954). But nothing like that is evident from the window itself. Its design is entirely different from the original, which had explicitly represented such inspiration. It is once again a triplet, although Shakespeare himself is not represented.
Figure 8. The present Shakespeare Window, unveiled 1954
Figure 8. The present Shakespeare Window, unveiled 1954
The central pane depicts Prospero, his arms raised, while Ariel, an ethereal streak, whisks above his head and a Neanderthal-like Caliban crouches naked at his feet. The left light shows characters from the comedies, such as Feste in full jester regalia, Bottom with an ass's head, Malvolio in his yellow stockings and crossed garters, as well as, most prominently, Falstaff in the center in a brilliant scarlet doublet. The right pane is reserved for tragic figures: Hamlet broods, skull in hand, while Lady Macbeth lurks nearby. The overall effect is stunningly unusual. Prospero in the center is certainly the most dominant and most striking figure of the whole composition. A casual observer might at first assume that Prospero is a saint in prayer rather than a theatrical magus in the act of conjuration. Shedding the Judeo-Christian text and symbolism of the first window, the new one flaunts a celebration of Shakespeare's literary imagination. The focal point here is Prospero summoning his spirits, and the always implicit comparison between this character and the playwright who created him cannot be put out of mind entirely: Shakespeare's genius in Thompson's window was inspired by God; here, it is aligned with necromancy.
Thompson, in his description of the plans for the effigy, hearkened back to the Christian imagery of the original window. He suggests that the effigy depicts Shakespeare listening to the muse, God's Dove, in the window above (Thompson 1910, 356R). But the statue as it was executed is overwhelmingly secular in tone, and none of the subsequent guide books written by Thompson's successors, the men who saw the finished product, develop his idea about the spiritual relationship between the effigy and the iconography of the old window above. The original window and the statue were in fact duplicative and out of synch, since in both there was a visual rendering of the poet. The 1954 window does not contain a likeness of Shakespeare the man. I would argue that it thus complements the effigy in a secular version of the afflatus that Thompson suggested between the two monuments.
Figure 9. Shakespeare effigy and window
Figure 9. Shakespeare effigy and window
The statue gives us a contemplative, almost Romantic-poet version of Shakespeare, as though he were lounging after a long hike. But here, he is not among nature, but, according to the carvings in the niche, surrounded by the physical, urban place of Southwark. Looking at the eye-level statue and then up at the window creates a fascinating tableaux. The ensemble of Shakespeare characters in the glass above might at first seem to be an unmoored, free-floating vision of Shakespeare's creative impulses. But taken in conjunction with the statue below it, the vision of the new window is anchored to that specific time and place. The brightly colored figures of the window appear almost as though they are in a cartoon thought bubble that emanates from the reposing Shakespeare's head. The combined memorials produce a mise-en-scène: an image of Shakespeare imagining his greatest creations while lounging in the midst of Renaissance-era Bankside.
This sight is still available today to anyone who enters the Cathedral, and perhaps appears to some as simply a quaint or curious adjunct to the Globe Theatre, the prominent and increasingly famous "ode" to Shakespeare nearby. But the terms of its existence mark a milestone in the history of Shakespeare commemoration, one that was the culmination of a long and complex process that began in the closing years of the nineteenth century when Shakespeare was being recalled to the south bank of the Thames. In one corner of Southwark in 1954, in an alabaster and stained glass vision, a fantasy of Shakespeare in communion with the genius loci, or maybe Shakespeare as the genius loci, had returned to South London. It would take another forty some years, and a considerable degree of controversy over the complex marriage of Shakespeare and Southwark embodied in the new Globe, for that spirit to take the large-scale local habitation that, only now, seems inevitable.


1.   A window that is still extant was also erected in the Stationer's Hall in 1889. See Times of London 7 February 1889 ("Memorial Window to Shakespeare" 1889) for the announcement. For a brief analysis of this window and its implications, see Kastan 2001, 10-11.
2.   At the time of his death in 1909, Thompson's obituary noted that "the stained-glass windows, illustrating the long string of literary and dramatic worthies connected with S[t]. Saviour, were arranged by him and carried out under his superintendence"; see The Guardian, "Rev. William Thompson Obituary" (1909).
3.   Beaumont has the most tenuous association: he is depicted there because of his close association with Fletcher and the tradition that they had shared lodgings in the parish.
4.   This summary of the windows is based on Rev. Canon Thompson's descriptions the 1898 edition of his book, the first published after the windows were installed, and in the 1904 edition. Thompson repeats a good deal of material verbatim from edition to edition of his books. Citations from his work will indicate the particular editions used, but many of the quotations appear in multiple volumes. I have tried in each instance to cite the earliest edition where quotations appeared. The 1906 and 1910 editions have a revised title, and the 1910 edition is from a different publisher, as noted in the "References" section.
5.   On controversies between St. Saviour's and the Southwark stages see, for instance, an extraxt from the parish Vestry records reprinted in Chambers, Elizabethan Stage 1923, 4:325-26 (item cxvi).
6.   The scholar is John Keble.
7.   On the diocesan reassignment from Winchester to Rochester, see also Monroe 1933, 64 and Yeatman-Biggs (Suffragan Bishop of Southwark) 1898.
8.   An eastern portion of the Cathedral was demolished in the early nineteenth century at the time when the new London Bridge was being constructed close by, and later, in 1822, a large, connected chapel (what had been prior to 1539 a parish church called St. Mary Magdalene) was also torn down. Around this time, the parish had also voted to destroy the retro-choir, or the Lady Chapel, a vote that was later repealed. On the various efforts to deface and preserve the church, see "St. Saviour's Southwark" 1890, 408-409.
9.   He reports also that there were "fifteen hundred people" in attendance, who were eager to see how the famous actress Ellen Terry had decorated the Shakespeare Window with flowers mentioned by Ophelia and Perdita (Thompson 1910, 356k, 356q).
10.   See, for instance, Thompson 1910 for his report, in an appendix, of the "latest authentic item" discovered about Shakespeare's life, the record of his being paid in 1613 to write a shield "impreso," 350-51.
11.   This is, it is worth noting, a few years before the plaque that now marks the site was hung in 1909; the brewery that sat there did apparently have a written indication of the Globe site on its outer wall.
12.   Nicola Watson notes a similar dynamic at work in an episode in Christian Tearle's 1901 novel Rambles with an American, which features a scene of a Shakespeare walking pilgrimage in Bankside. As Watson notes, the scene also exhibits some of the same ambivalence about Shakespeare in Southwark that, I will show, Thompson and others exhibit. See Watson 2007, 218-20.
13.   T. P. Stevens dedicated his first booklets on the history of the Cathedral to the "man on London Bridge," that is to say, the person who crosses London Bridge and regards the city with no knowledge of the Cathedral or its rich history. See the introductory materials in Stevens 1922 and Stevens 1930, as well as the remarks of a Bishop of Southwark in Monroe 1933, iii-iv.
14.   See also T .P. Stevens's more circumspect iteration of this thought, Stevens 1949, 17-18.
15.   I quote from the handwritten description of Thompson and the interview. "Interest" is my best guess at an illegible word; it may also be "interior." The interviewer privately doubts how aware Thompson is of his poorer parishioners' well-being, and records Thompson's remarks about the futility of trying to get the poor to attend mass regularly. But he also does record Thompson's insistence that the parish was always aware of parishioners who were sick or in distress (Booth Collection 1899, 109).
16.   The lines appear in an appendix. The quotation about the theater is Thompson's riff on words from James Halliwell-Phillips.
17.   Those involved with Shakespeare's Globe have been sensitive to charges put forth by cultural materialists and other critics that the project was somehow reactionary, nostalgia-oriented, too much part of the "heritage industry," and irrelevant to the local community. See Spottiswoode, "Contextualising Globe Education," in Carson and Karim-Cooper, Shakespeare's Globe 2008, for one discussion of the ways the new Globe has sought to benefit the Southwark community through outreach and educational programs, and to function as a non-establishment site of cultural questioning within the increasingly slick Bankside area. See also his pointed claim, quoted elsewhere in the same volume, that the re-made Globe is at work "interrogating the past . . . not eulogizing it" (Carson and Karim-Cooper 2008, 177).
18.   Along with Thompson, local physician and ardent Bardolater Dr. R. W. Leftwich was a driving force in the fund raising for, and conception and creation of, the effigy ("Medical News" 1912, 1347; "Drama" 1912, 415). Leftwich, inspired in part by Thompson's books, did much during Thompson's final years to create the yearly Shakespeare service at the church and passionately sought to brand Southwark Cathedral, and the Bankside area, by their Shakespearean associations. See in particular his short piece "A Shakespeare Commemoration for London," Leftwich 1908.
19.   Internal discussions about commissioning the new window and about its progress can be found in the recorded minutes of the Cathedral's Vestry meetings. I am extremely grateful to the staff of the Southwark Local History Library, especially Stephen Humphrey, for assistance in consulting these and other primary documents about Southwark Cathedral and nineteenth-century Bankside. I am grateful also to the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale University for providing me with an A. Whitney Griswold Faculty Research Fund grant to pursue my work in Southwark.


"The Bishop's Letter." 1941. Southwark Diocesan Gazette 4: 22.

Booth Collection, London School of Economics. 1899. Interview Notebook B269.

Carson, Christie, and Farah Karim-Cooper, eds. 2008. Shakespeare's Globe: A Theatrical Experiment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

"A Cathedral's Undignified Approach." 1910. Daily Graphic, 4 February.

Chambers, E. K. 1923. The Elizabethan Stage. 4 vols. Oxford: Clarendon.

Decker, Christopher. 2003. "Shakespeare and the Death of Tennyson." In Victorian Shakespeare, Volume 2. Edited by Gail Marshall and Adrian Poole. New York: Palgrave. 131-49.

Drakakis, John. 1988. "Ideology and Institution: Shakespeare and the Roadsweepers." In The Shakespeare Myth. Edited by Graham Holderness. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 24-41.

"Drama." 1912. The Nation, 31 October.

H. G. 1931. "Southwark Cathedral and Its Music." The Musical Times 72.1056: 113-17.

Hales, John W. 1904. "London Residences of Shakespeare." The Athenaeum, 26 March: 401-402.

Henderson, Diana. 2006. Collaborations with the Past: Reshaping Shakespeare across Time and Media. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Holderness, Graham. 1988. "Sam Wanamaker Interview." In The Shakespeare Myth. Edited by Graham Holderness. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 16-23.

Kastan, David Scott. 2001. Shakespeare and the Book. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Laporte, Charles. 2007. "The Bard, the Bible, and the Victorian Shakespeare Question." ELH 74.3: 609-28.

Lee, Sidney. 1906. Shakespeare and the Modern Stage, with Other Essays. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Leftwich, R. W. 1908. "A Shakespeare Commemoration for London." Westminster Review 169.6: 695-700.

"London's Hidden Cathedral." 1912. Pall Mall Magazine, 49.

"The Lord Mayor Unveils the Memorial Window to Shakespeare in St. Helen's Bishopsgate." 1884. Times of London, 25 February.

"Medical News." 1912. The British Medical Journal, 9 November.

"Memorial Window to Shakespeare." 1954. Times of London, 24 April.

"Memorial Window to Shakespeare Placed in the Hall of the Stationers' Company." 1889. Times of London, 7 February.

Monoe, Horace. 1933. The Story of Southwark Cathedral. London: Raphael Tuck and Sons.

Nicholl, Charles. 2007. The Lodger Shakespeare: His Life on Silver Street. New York: Viking Press.

Nora, Pierre. 1989. "Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire." Translated by Marc Roudebush. Representations 26: 7-24.

Ordish, Thomas Fairman. 1899. Early London Theatres. London: Elliot Stock.

"Rev. William Thompson Obituary." 1909. The Guardian, 1 September.

Schoenbaum, Samuel. 1987. William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

"A Shakespeare Shrine." 1912. Times of London, 5 November.

"Shakespearean Memorial Window." 1886. Times of London, 1 April.

"Southwark Cathedral — Air Raid Damage." 1941. Times of London, 21 February.

Southwark Cathedral Vestry Minutes, Southwark Local Studies Library. Collection A396.

Spottiswoode, Patrick. 2008. "Contextualising Globe Education." In 2008. Shakespeare's Globe: A Theatrical Experiment. Edited by Christie Carson and Farah Karim-Cooper. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 134-46.

"St. Saviour's Southwark." 1890. Quarterly Review 170: 394-414.

Stevens, T. P. 1922. The Story of Southwark Cathedral. London: Sampson, Low, Marston & Co.

Stevens, T. P. 1930. Southwark Cathedral, 606-1930. London: Sampson and Low.

Stevens, T. P. 1949. Southwark Cathedral, 606-1949. Surrey: Surrey Fine Arts Press.

Symon, Sir Josiah Henry. 1929. Shakespeare the Englishman. New York: Haskell House.

Thompson, Rev. Canon William. 1892. The History and Antiquities of the Collegiate Church of S. Saviour (S. Marie Overie), Southwark. London: Ash.

Thompson, Rev. Canon William. 1894. The History and Antiquities of the Collegiate Church of S. Saviour (S. Marie Overie), Southwark. London: Ash.

Thompson, Rev. Canon William. 1898. The History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of St. Saviour (St. Marie Overie), Southwark. London: Ash & Co., Ltd.

Thompson, Rev. Canon William. 1904. The History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of St. Saviour (St. Marie Overie), Southwark. London: Ash & Company.

Thompson, Rev. Canon William. 1906. Southwark Cathedral: A Guide to the The History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of St. Saviour (St. Marie Overie). London: Ash & Co.

Thompson, Rev. Canon William. 1910. Southwark Cathedral: The History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of St. Saviour (St. Marie Overie). London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd.

Watson, Nicola J. 2007. "Shakespeare On The Tourist Trail." In The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Popular Culture. Edited by Robert Shaughnessy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 199-226.

Williams, S. C. 1999. Religious Belief and Popular Culture in Southwark, c. 1880-1939. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wiles, David. 2003. A Short History of Western Performance Space. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Yeatman-Biggs, Huyshe Wolcott (Suffragan Bishop of Southwark). 1898. "The Reconstruction of the Diocese of Rochester." Nineteenth Century: A Monthly Review 43.253: 457-65.


Figure 1. Samuel Colman (British, 1780-1845). The Edge of Doom, 1836-1838. Oil on canvas, 54 x 78 1/2 in. (137.2 x 199.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Laura L. Barnes, by exchange, 69.130.

Figure 2. Southwark Cathedral, east end; photograph by the author.

Figure 3. Rev. William Thompson, from Thompson's The History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of St. Saviour, Southwark, 1904 edition.

Figure 4. Philip Massigner Memorial Window, from The History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of St. Saviour, Southwark, 1904 edition.

Figure 5. Photograph of the 1897 Shakespeare Memorial Window. Reproduced by kind permission of The Dean and Chapter of Southwark.

Figure 6. Drawing and text taken from The History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of St. Saviour, Southwark, 1904 edition.

Figure 7. The Shakespeare effigy in Southwark Cathedral; photograph taken by the author.

Figure 8. The present Shakespeare Window, unveiled 1954; photograph taken by the author.

Figure 9. Image of Shakespeare effigy and window, from Southwark Cathedral: The Authorized Guide. Reproduced by kind permission of The Dean and Chapter of Southwark.

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