“Southwark is a district of Central London situated on the south bank of the River Thames, forming the north-western part of the wider modern London Borough of Southwark. The district, which is the oldest part of South London, developed due to its position at the southern end of the early versions of London Bridge, the only crossing point for many miles.
London’s historic core, the City of London lay north of the Bridge and for centuries the area of Southwark just south of the bridge was governed by the City. By the 12th century Southwark had been incorporated as an ancient borough, and this historic status is reflected in the alternative name of the area, or at least part of it, as Borough. In the middle ages, not far from the bridge was the Liberty of the Clink, which was just beyond the City’s jurisdiction, allowing for more relaxed governance and an area of sometimes disreputable entertainment, nightlife and theatre.
The urban area expanded over the years and Southwark was separated from the City in 1900 and a separate Diocese of Southwark was established in 1905. Local points of interest include Southwark Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, The Shard, Tower Bridge and the City Hall offices of the Greater London Authority.
Southwark is thought to have become a burh in 886. The area appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 within the hundred of Brixton as held by several Surrey manors.
The ancient borough of Southwark, enfranchised in 1295, initially consisted of the pre-existing Surrey parishes of St George the Martyr, St Olave, St Margaret and St Mary.
St Margaret and St Mary were abolished in 1541 and their former area combined to create Southwark St Saviour. Around 1555 Southwark St Thomas was split off from St Olave, and in 1733 Southwark St John Horsleydown was also split off.
In 1855 the parishes came into the area of responsibility of the Metropolitan Board of Works. The large St George the Martyr parish was governed by its own administrative vestry, but the smaller St John Horsleydown, St Olave and St Thomas parishes were grouped together to form the St Olave District. St Saviour was combined with Southwark Christchurch (the former liberty of Paris Garden) to form the St Saviour’s District. In 1889 the area became part of the new County of London. St Olave and St Thomas were combined as a single parish in 1896.
The ancient borough of Southwark, was traditionally known simply as The Borough—or Borough, to distinguish it from ‘The City’, and this name has persisted as an alternative name for the area. The medieval heart of Southwark was also, simultaneously, referred to as the ward of Bridge Without when administered by the city (from 1550 to 1900) and as an aldermanry until 1978.
The local government arrangements were reorganised in 1900 with the creation of the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark. It comprised the parishes of Southwark Christchurch, Southwark St Saviours, Southwark St George the Martyr and Newington. The Metropolitan Borough of Southwark was based at Walworth Town Hall. The eastern parishes that had formed the St Olave District instead became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey. In 1965 the two boroughs were combined with the Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell to form the current London Borough of Southwark.”