In the heart of Borough Market, where top buttons are being undone, wine is being spilt, and oysters are being cracked open, Southwark Cathedral quietly rises into the air.
The stunning and yet subtle cathedral has seen over a thousand years of London's history. Dating as far back as 606 AD, today its spires share the same sky as The Shard. In this respect, the venue offers a quintessential slice of London life: the bustle of Borough Market, the heights of The Shard, and a 1400 year old cathedral.
On Thursday, I was invited to their summer party, where the team was celebrating the official opening of their brand new churchyard. Everything from theology, to chocolate herbs and beaver fur was discussed in their newly developed churchyard, as Borough Market buzzed in the background.
In order to enter their courtyard, we were led through a private entrance, which took us through the cathedral's nave. The vast heights of its ceiling, coupled with the light that refracts through their stained glass windows, is a sight to behold.
And it's also an invigorating experience, walking from the liveliness of Borough Market to their tranquil, silent nave.
And, stepping outside, we were led out to the churchyard, which has seen a comprehensive redevelopment, newly turfed and built around hosting beautiful events, just in time for the summer.
Southwark Cathedral has built a name for itself over the past few years as having very few limits to its hospitality, and this showed on Thursday evening. Prosecco, delicious canapés and dedicated staff all combined seamlessly in a show of expertise, experience, and warmth.
But what was most striking was how much this courtyard is a feast for the senses: not only can you hear the faint flurry of Borough Market, and see The Shard shoot up from the ground, but you can also smell the fragrances of the venue's truly unique herb garden.
Everything from the vibrant and lemony 'Verbena', to the dark chocolatey peppermint, a range of sumptuous fragrances wafted through the churchyard space. It's an amazing conception of an events space.
Rose Harding, Development Director at the cathedral, told me how thrilled she was that the Cathedral appeared to be ever-evolving beyond the confines of her busy conference centre.
“Hot on the heels of the nave itself being used as an events and party space, I could not be more pleased with what this newly-restored green space, the churchyard, will now bring to the events organising community.
"I would like to encourage those in the creative industries with a keen eye on experiential marketing space to come down and see it, as well as, of course, party organisers researching locations for drinks and canapé receptions.
"This site was founded in 606 – a place-maker then as the oldest crossing point across the tidal Thames and most certainly a place-maker now with not just one but two wonderful outdoor areas at opposing compass points, the River side and Borough Market side – we are very lucky.”
Through a unique combination of sights, sounds and smells, Southwark Cathedral's brand new churchyard is a unique addition to the London events scene. Now that it's open, you can arrange your site visit today.
To hire any of Southwark Cathedral's spaces, just get in touch at hirespace.com