Sumner Street

Survey of London: Volume 22, Bankside (The Parishes of St. Saviour and Christchurch Southwark). Originally published by London County Council, London, 1950.

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'Sumner Street', in Survey of London: Volume 22, Bankside (The Parishes of St. Saviour and Christchurch Southwark), ed. Howard Roberts, Walter H Godfrey( London, 1950), British History Online [accessed 24 July 2024].

'Sumner Street', in Survey of London: Volume 22, Bankside (The Parishes of St. Saviour and Christchurch Southwark). Edited by Howard Roberts, Walter H Godfrey( London, 1950), British History Online, accessed July 24, 2024,

"Sumner Street". Survey of London: Volume 22, Bankside (The Parishes of St. Saviour and Christchurch Southwark). Ed. Howard Roberts, Walter H Godfrey(London, 1950), , British History Online. Web. 24 July 2024.

In this section


The eastern end of Sumner Street was made in 1839 to form a communication between Southwark Bridge Road and Great Guildford Street and was so named in compliment to John Sumner, Bishop of Winchester. The ground for this improvement was purchased from Messrs. Pott, lessees of the Bishop of Winchester, for £3,700. (fn. 13) The roadway was macadamised in 1840. In 1880 (fn. 61) the name Sumner Street was extended to apply to the western end of Great Guildford Street (formerly known as the western end of Maid Lane).

St. Peter's Church

This church was built on ground leased from the Bishop of Winchester by Messrs. Potts, the vinegar distillers, and given by the latter for the purpose. It was consecrated by the Bishop of Winchester on 7th November, 1839. The building was designed by Christopher Edmonds, surveyor to the Clink Paving Commissioners, and was described at the time of its erection as "a handsome, though not very richly adorned, specimen of Gothic architecture; … built of gray bricks, with stone mouldings, window frames, etc." It had sittings for about 1,200 persons. (fn. 198) It was entirely destroyed by enemy action in 1940.

St. Saviour's Grammar School

In 1559 (fn. 7) the wardens of St. Saviour's Church obtained Letters Patent granting a lease to them for sixty years of the rectory on condition that they should erect a grammar school for the parish within two years.

One of the first entries in the vestry minutes relates to the setting up of a school "in the chorche howse late in the parryshe of seynte Margeretts" with an order that "the old chappell be hynd the chanesell shale be lett owghte toward the benyffytt of the same skoole. (fn. 16) "

In 1560 Richard Ryall, William Browker and others were appointed by the vestry "to examyn … suche Orders Rules and Constitions as by them … shalbe thought Requisit … in the Contynnuance of the Free skoole in the parishe of Saint Savyors" and two years later the vestry paid £40 to Mathew Smyth for the purchase of the schoolhouse. This was part of the house known as the Green Dragon which is marked on the plan of 1542 (Plate 8) and which gave its name to Green Dragon Court. It had previously been known as Cobham's Inn and had belonged to Joan, Lady Cobham, who at her death in 1370 had left legacies to St. Thomas's Hospital and to St. Mary Overy Priory. (fn. 199)

Among other endowments made to the school was the gift of the Three Tuns, later known as the George (on the site of No. 12 Bankside), made by Gilbert Rockett in 1587, of the Red Lyon, Borough, by Hugh Browker in 1608, and of tenements behind the Queen's Head Inn in the Borough by Gregory Franklin in 1615. (fn. 56) In 1617 John Bingham gave tenements in Kent Street (now Tabard Street) to endow two scholarships to the university. The school was intended for not more than 100 scholars. Views of the building near Green Dragon Court are given on Plates 41 & 42. The school remained on the same site (fn. n1) until 1838 when an Act (fn. 200) was obtained to enable the governors to sell the old school and schoolhouse and to purchase a piece of land from the Bishop of Winchester, for a new building on the north side of Sumner Street next to St. Peter's Church.

The school had fallen on evil days by the end of the century. It was hemmed in by factories and warehouses and its numbers had dropped to twenty-three. (fn. 56) In 1899 it was united with St. Olave's Grammar School and the Sumner Street building was used for a church day school for St. Peter's parish. It was badly damaged by enemy action during the war.

The original stone tablet cut in 1562 for the old school was placed on the Sumner Street building and is still in situ on the ruins. It bears the inscription—

Nos. 32 and 34 Sumner Street (formerly 16 and 18 Great Guildford Street, and 57 and 58 Maid Lane)

These premises are of late 17th century date. They are of timber frame and brick construction with pantiled hipped roofs and dormers, the fronts having been rebuilt with parapets in the 18th century. The windows have flush frames.

The shop fronts date from the early 19th century, that to No. 34 being slightly bowed. Both houses are now in poor condition.

These two houses stand on land which was part of the Bishop of Winchester's Park. They can be traced back in the rate books to 1773. Since that date they have been in the hands of small traders.


  • n1. The school was burnt down in the fire of 1676 but rebuilt in the same place. The railway arches south of St. Saviour's Churchyard now cover most of the site.
  • 7. Cal. of Patent Rolls.
  • 13. Minutes of the Clink Paving Commissioners at Southwark Town Hall.
  • 16. Vestry Minute Books of St. Saviour's.
  • 56. Returns of Endowed Charities, vol. II, 1899.
  • 61. L.C.C. Street-naming Records.
  • 198. Contemporary newspaper cuttings in the extra-illustrated copy of The history and antiquities of the parochial church of St. Saviour's, Southwark, by J. Nightingale, in the British Museum.
  • 199. Lambeth Palace MSS.: Whittleseye Reg., p. 114.
  • 200. Act, 1 & 2 Vic., c. 35.