St Thomas Church : A venue steeped in history


The early years of St Thomas Church

Drawing of St Thomas Church, Southwark as it appeared between 1680-1702

Amazing Grace champions established and emerging musical talent, and while the venue looks to the future, it also preserves the building’s compelling historical past.

The venue opened in October 2021 and is housed in the Grade II* listed St Thomas’s Church (Southwark).

It was designed by esteemed English stonemason and sculptor, Thomas Cartwright from 1680 –1702.

History runs through the building’s walls; the first church building was part of the original St. Thomas’ Hospital

It was located to the area around the present St Thomas Street, from the infirmary at St Mary Overie priory in 1212.

It was named after Thomas á Becket whose pilgrimage to Canterbury began at London Bridge.

The present church was built by the Hospital Governors to designs by Thomas Cartwright and replaced an older church on the same site.

He was one of the foremost London mason-contractors in the latter part of the 17th century.

Cartwright was responsible for several outstanding monuments such as:

  1. Temple Church, Whitehall Palace
  2. Bridewell Prison
  3. Lewys and Langham Memorials
  4. Royal Exchange

Cartwright continued to accept contracts until shortly before his death in 1703, and It has been believed he was helped by his son, Thomas. The building ceased to be used as a church in the late 19th century, and later served as the chapter house of Southwark Cathedral.

St Thomas Church through the 1800s

Etching by C. Burton of St Thomas Church, Southwark (published circa 1830-1850)

The Old Operating Theatre of St Thomas’s Hospital (1822-62) is housed in the church’s attic which is accessed by a narrow tower staircase.

This scientific facility was uncovered in 1957 by Raymond Russell and is said to be the oldest surviving operating theatre in England. 

Most recently, it opened as The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret (once used to dry and store herbs for patients’ medicines)

The Amazing Grace team are proud custodians of the building, and the original features have been painstakingly and lovingly restored for future generations.

The architecture is reminiscent of the ‘Queen Ann Style’ and on closer examination you will find:

  1. Four tall, stained glass windows with glazing bars and red rubbed brick dressings.
  2. An exterior featuring brown-red brick with stone dressings.
  3. The interior featuring panelled galleries with oak mouldings.
  4. A wooden reredos (the large altarpiece on the wall set behind the alter) which remains untouched to this day. The reredos features fluted columns with Corinthian capitals. Above this, sits an open pediment topped with crown motif flanked by a unicorn and lion. 

St Thomas Church from the 1900s - present

Unfortunately, during the construction of the Jubilee Line during the mid 1990s, the grade II listed church was damaged. This meant that the building was subsequently deemed ‘at risk’ in the English Heritage’s register.

St Thomas Church, Southwark (1902)
St Thomas Church, Southwark (1902)
St Thomas Church, Southwark (2022)
View of St Thomas Church, Southwark and The Shard (2022)

The Church was renovated in 2008 – 2009.

The insertion of the higher level mezzanine over the galleries, a partially raised floor in the church and the subdivision of the basement for restrooms and a fully equipped restaurant kitchen.

Whilst we’ve made sure to honour the integrity of the church’s architectural and historical merit and beauty, we’ve also breathed new life into the building.

The renovation of the old church into a music venue includes: the addition of striking lightning, a green tiled bar and 3D visuals.

With a building holding such majestic and historic artistry, there’s nowhere quite like it in London.

Take advantage of the beautiful stained glass windows and the original wooden features as you dine, drink and dance to a selection of artists and performers.

For a night out, with a slice of history thrown in for good measure, swing by Amazing Grace.


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