Black face of St. George

Quite why a church has remained on this site since 1122 I do not know.

It just shows the tenacity of the area’s residents that St. George the Martyr on Borough High Street is the third to be built here despite the area’s unstable ground.

Situated on an important thoroughfare it has witnessed its fare share of important
events.

[T]he Mayor and Aldermen of the City ventured out to St. George’s to welcome Henry V on his triumphant return from Agincourt. Oliver Cromwell’s body was met here by friends to accompany it to Somerset House for the Protector’s lying in state.

Dickens’s Little Dorrit was baptised and married here. The figure of Little Dorrit appears in the east window of the church. Charles Dickens’ father was imprisoned for debt in the nearby Marshalsea prison; the surviving wall of the prison adjoins the north side of the churchyard.

It is probably its need for urgent funds for remedial action due to its unstable foundations (only recently rectified) that St. George’s most quirky feature originates.

The church steeple and the clock have four faces. Built by George Clarke of Whitechapel in 1738 for £90, three of clock’s the faces are painted white and illuminated at night.

However, one clock face is strangely black. The black clock face points towards Bermondsey. Legend has it that Bermondsey’s parishioners refused to give any money to the church when it was being built and the clock face was therefore left black to reflect Bermondsey’s lack of support for the church.

Or it could have a more prosaic reason. The black dial faces up the nave and as it is mostly obscured with the roof line they might have thought a white illuminated dial was unnecessary.

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