The Diocese of Southwark was formed in 1905 and lies in the Church of England Province of Canterbury. The Diocese has jurisdiction over 317 square miles of London south of the River Thames, formerly in the ancient counties of Kent and Surrey, areas which had been in the Diocese of Rochester and vast Diocese of Winchester. In 2003 the Diocese was serving a population of 2,358,000 in 302 parishes. It includes:
Parishes in the ancient county of Surrey, forming the Parliamentary Divisions of east and mid Surrey, which had been transferred from the Archdeaconry of Surrey in the Diocese of Winchester, to the Diocese of Rochester in 1878;
Parishes in the ancient county of Kent which had been transferred to the Diocese of London in 1846 and returned back to the Diocese of Rochester in 1867, namely Charlton, Lee, Lewisham, Greenwich, Woolwich, Eltham, Plumstead and Deptford;
Parishes in the former Deanery of Croydon which were peculiars of the Archbishop of Canterbury, namely Barnes, Bunstow, Charlwood, Cheam, East Horsley, Merstham, Mortlake, Newington, Putney and Wimbledon. The peculiars were parishes or places which were formerly exempt from the jurisdiction of the bishop in whose diocese they were physically located, and were answerable directly to the Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1846, Newington, Barnes, Putney, Mortlake and Wimbledon had ceased to be peculiars and became part of the Diocese of London, and in the same year the remaining peculiars of Addington and Croydon were transferred permanently to the Diocese of Canterbury.
In 1927, the Diocese of Guildford was formed from parishes in the ancient county of Surrey remaining in the Archdeaconry of Surrey in the Diocese of Winchester and a few Hampshire parishes.
In the late nineteenth century, the cathedral church at Winchester could not respond to the needs of the rapidly increasing populations in South London experiencing poor living and working conditions. Although the area had been transferred to the Diocese of Rochester in 1878, Anthony Thorold, Bishop of Rochester was determined that the religious life of South London would have its own firm identity. As a result, a Suffragan Bishop of Southwark was appointed in 1891 and the ancient parish church of Saint Saviours, Southwark was restored to become the pro-Cathedral in 1897. In 1904 an Act of Parliament created the new Diocese of Southwark and in 1905 the church became Southwark Cathedral (also known as the Cathedral and Collegiate Church of Saint Saviour and Saint Mary Overie).
Edward Stuart Talbot, the 100th Bishop of Rochester, was enthroned as the first Bishop of Southwark. The bishop was faced with the challenge of building up the Church over the South London with a population of nearly two million inhabitants and great social disparities from the prosperous villages of Reigate or Kew and Edwardian suburbs to appallingly overcrowded tenements of inner London.
In 2003 the mission of the Diocese was:
to 'pray for the renewing power and love of the Holy Spirit in our worship, work and witness';
to 'seek the rule of God in our lives, our church, our communities, the life of the earth and the whole of creation';
to 'Share the Faith - proclaiming the Good News, teaching and nurturing new believers, making disciples and equipping them for service';
to 'Search for Truth - open to God's Word, exploring God's activity in different contexts and cultures';
to 'Serve our Neighbour - responding to human need by loving service and by confronting the unjust structures of society; and
Follow Jesus - in his suffering love for the salvation of all people.
In 2003, the Diocese of Southwark was divided into three Episcopal Areas each with a Suffragan Bishop and two Archdeacons:
Croydon Episcopal Area:
Bishop of Croydon
Archdeacon of Croydon
Archdeacon of Reigate
Kingston Episcopal Area:
Bishop of Kingston
Archdeacon of Lambeth
Archdeacon of Wandsworth
Woolwich Episcopal Area:
Bishop of Woolwich
Archdeacon of Lewisham
Archdeacon of Southwark
The Diocese of Southwark was twinned with three Anglican Dioceses in Zimbabwe (2003).
Bishops of Southwark (1905 - 2003)
1905 Edward Stuart Talbot
1911 Hubert Murray Burge
1919 Cyril Foster Garbett
1932 Richard Godfrey Parsons
1942 Bertram Fitzgerald Simpson
1959 Arthur Mervyn Stockwood
1980 Ronald Oliver Bowlby
1991 Robert Kerr Williamson
1998 Thomas Frederick Butler