Further Stories of London - A Day of Talks Exploring London’s History

Event Information

Share this event

Date and Time



Southwark Cathedral

London Bridge



United Kingdom

View Map

Event description


Southwark Cathedral presents a day of talks about London, looking at its stories, old and new.

Virginia Rounding - The Smithfield Martyrs

10.00am - 11.15am

Smithfield, settled on the fringes of Roman London, was once a place of revelry. Jesters and crowds flocked for the medieval St Bartholomew's Day celebrations, tournaments were plentiful and it became the location of London's most famous meat market. Yet in Tudor England, Smithfield had another, more sinister use: the public execution of heretics.

Spanning the reigns of British history's most remarkable dynasty, The Burning Time is a vivid insight into an era in which what was orthodoxy one year might be dangerous heresy the next.

George Goodwin - Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America's Founding Father

11.30am - 12.45pm

For the great majority of his long life, Benjamin Franklin was a loyal British royalist. In 1757, having made his fortune in Philadelphia and established his fame as a renowned experimental scientist, he crossed the Atlantic to live as a gentleman in the heaving metropolis of London. With just a brief interlude, a house in Craven Street was to be his home until 1775.

The early 1760s saw Britain's elevation to global superpower status with victory in the Seven Years War and the succession of the young, active George III. These two events brought a sharp new edge to political competition in London and redefined the relationship between Britain and its colonies. They would profoundly affect Franklin himself, eventually placing him in opposition with his ambitious son William.
Though Franklin long sought to prevent the break with Great Britain, his own actions would finally help cause that very event. On the eve of the American War of Independence, Franklin fled arrest and escaped by sea. He would never return to London.

With his unique focus on the fullness of Benjamin Franklin's life in London, George Goodwin has created an enthralling portrait of the man, the city and the age.

George Goodwin is Honorary Author in Residence at Benjamin Franklin House in London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Royal Society of Arts. George is a history graduate of Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a Foundation Exhibition.

Caroline Shenton - Rebuilding the Houses of Parliament

2.00pm - 3.15pm

In the early evening of 16 October 1834, to the horror of bystanders, a huge ball of fire exploded through the roof of the Houses of Parliament, creating a blaze so enormous that it could be seen by the King and Queen at Windsor, and from stagecoaches on top of the South Downs. In front of hundreds of thousands of witnesses the great conflagration destroyed Parliament's glorious old buildings and their contents. No one who witnessed the disaster would ever forget it. When the brilliant classical architect Charles Barry won the competition to build a new, Gothic, Houses of Parliament in London he thought it was the chance of a lifetime. It swiftly turned into the most nightmarish building programme of the century. From the beginning, its design, construction and decoration were a battlefield. The practical and political forces ranged against him were immense.

Rallying the genius of his collaborator Pugin; flanking the mad schemes of a host of crackpot inventors, ignorant busybodies and hostile politicians; attacking strikes, sewage and cholera; charging forward three times over budget and massively behind schedule, it took twenty-five years for Barry to achieve victory with his 'Great Work' in the face of overwhelming odds, and at great personal cost.

Dr Caroline Shenton is an archivist and historian. She was formerly Director of the Parliamentary Archives in London, and before that was a senior archivist at the National Archives. Her book The Day Parliament Burned Down won the Political Book of the Year Award in 2013 and Mary Beard called it 'microhistory at its absolute best' while Dan Jones considered it 'glorious'. Its acclaimed sequel, Mr Barry’s War was a Book of the Year in 2016 for The Daily Telegraph and BBC History Magazine and was described by Lucy Worsley as 'a real jewel, finely wrought and beautiful'.

Julian Woodford - The Boss of Bethnal Green, Joseph Merceron the Godfather of Regency London

3.30pm - 4.30pm

In his compelling and eloquent new biography, Julian Woodford uncovers the breathtakingly appalling life of Joseph Merceron (1764 -1839), gangster and corrupt magistrate, who accumulated enormous wealth while presiding over the creation of the poorest slums in Georgian London.

Ruling Spitalfields and Bethnal Green from his house in Brick Lane for half a century, he gave the East End the bad reputation that still lingers today, and the exploits of recent gangsters and political miscreants pale by comparison with Joseph Merceron’s staggering violence and ruthlessness.

Julian Woodford’s shrewd biography — the first on this subject — is essential reading for all those interested in eighteenth century London, anyone fascinated by the capital’s criminal history and everyone who loves an exciting true story well told.’

Julian Woodford was born in Burton-upon-Trent in 1963. Since graduating from the University of York he has combined a City career with a passion for London's history. 'The Boss of Bethnal Green' is his first book.

A ticket for the day allows entry to each talk.

Books for each talk will be available to purchase.

Your ticket entitles you to 10% off in the Cathedral Refectory and Shop. Please ensure you have your ticket with you if you decide to use this facility for lunch or wish to purchase from the shop.


What are my transport/parking options for getting to and from the event?

There is no parking in the vicinity of the Cathedral. We are a five minute walk away from London Bridge Station for Underground and Mainline trains. A number of buses also stop nearby either on London Bridge, at the station or at Borough High Street. For more information we recommend using https://tfl.gov.uk/plan-a-journey/

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Please contact Ruth Miller at ruth.miller@southwark.anglican.org

Does the ticket price include all the talks?

Yes - ticket holders can attend all the talks on the day or pick and choose individual talks.

Are the talks in the Cathedral?

No due to our regular services and other events taking place these talks are held in the elegant Cathedral Library.

Share with friends

Date and Time


Southwark Cathedral

London Bridge



United Kingdom

View Map

Save This Event

Event Saved