Although old churches and Cathedrals are increasingly overlooked by modern towers, they can still offer stunning views of London from their rooftops.

All the more delightful thanks to the hair-raising climb that is often needed to get up to a location that was never intended for casual visitors.

By courtesy of Southwark Cathedral, and arranged by Better Bankside, a small group were allowed past the locked doors and to climb up seemingly endless spiral staircases to the very top of the clock tower.

A journey made more exciting/scary due to the fact the bells were in full bonging state at the time, and climbing up a staircase right next to the bells was an utterly deafening experience. Oh, and the roof shakes and wobbles when the bells are in action, which in no way whatsoever wasn’t at all alarming.

I would have taken better photos with the big camera, but also probably have got stuck halfway up as the staircases were really too narrow for the big bag.

So here are some camera phone photos – click on them to enlarge.

The walkway above the nave – just a few inches of stone beneath your feet.

Squeezing around the upper walkway to the top of the tower.

The Cathedral and the Shard

God looks down on you from CCTV.

The night of our visit was also one of the occasional candlelit photography evenings, where the Cathedral lets people in with tripods and cameras to take photos in the dark.


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  1. Edward Troup says:

    Amaaazing! I don’t suppose this is ever open to us mere earthlings?

  2. Kevin Too says:

    Edward – the ever helpful and thoughtful Ian has inserted a link above in orange which answers your question… please click on it 🙂

  3. Andrew Gwilt says:

    I have never been to Southwark Cathedral but I have been to St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. London is very famous because its got 3 Cathedrals. 2 in Central London and Southwark Cathedral on the South Bank in Southwark, South London. Not far from London Waterloo station.

  4. Gerry83 says:

    What about Westminster Cathedral and St George’s Cathedral (Southwark). That brings the total to 5.

  5. Bumble 4 says:

    Sorry to disappoint but its only 4. This is an extract from the History of Westminster Abbey; “Neither a cathedral nor a parish church, Westminster Abbey (or the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster to give it its correct title) is a “Royal Peculiar” under the jurisdiction of a Dean and Chapter, subject only to the Sovereign and not to any archbishop or bishop.”

    • ianvisits says:

      Westminster Abbey is not the same as Westminster Cathedral – they are two different buildings.

  6. Bumble4 says:

    Indeed it is. Completed in 1903 from a neo-Byzantine style design by John Francis Bentley, it is the mother church of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

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