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Southwark fêtes 'its very own saint'

16 October 2015

by Stephen Stavrou


A CELEBRATION of the life of a man described by the Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, as the closest thing that Southwark Cathedral has to "its very own saint" was held last month at the cathedral.

Lancelot Andrewes was Bishop of Winchester in the 17th century, when that diocese covered most of what is now the diocese of Southwark. The celebration, the Lancelot Andrewes Festival, took as its theme the words inscribed on his tomb, "How great a man is here," and included a eucharist, and tours inside and outside the cathedral. The Lancelot Lecture was given by the Revd Dr Nicholas Cranfield, who described how Andrewes’s average sermon, lasting some 90 minutes, would often be delivered twice in a day.

Books from the cathedral library were on display, including a 1629 first edition of the Sermons of Lancelot Andrewes, and a Bible from 1614, which is believed to have belonged to him. It is the Bible on which new Bishops of Southwark take their oaths at their enthronement.

One of Andrewes’s successors in the see of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, preaching at the eucharist, spoke of Andrewes’s love of language: "It was consonant with his life being a living translation of the Word made flesh, just as yours and mine are meant to be."

Andrewes was buried in 1626 in the medieval Lady chapel at the east end of what was then the Parish Church of St Mary Overie. In the 19th century, his monument was moved to the south quire aisle, where it remains.

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