The earliest mention of any musical activity at Southwark is in 1365 (then the Augustinian Priory of St Mary Overie) when one Nicholas Le Clerk was appointed to teach boys to sing and read
In 1456, the parish records include a payment made to the 'theatrical children' at St Saviour's (as it was then known). The first direct reference to professional singers is in 1569 when Brian Pattinson, one of the vestry clerks, helped himself to the huge sum of £20 from funds to pay the Choir. He was dismissed and replaced by a successor 'who shall be a good bass'. At the same time, the Choir also advertised for 'a tenor, that the choir may be better served.'
St Saviour's Church became the Cathedral for the newly formed Diocese of Southwark in 1905 and has boasted a fine Choir of boys and men for many years, offering pupils at day schools, both independent and state, the opportunity to learn music in the unique English Cathedral tradition.
As part of the Millennium Project, marking the year 2000, Southwark Cathedral Girls' Choir was formed, on similar lines to the boys, to enrich the Cathedral's musical heritage and to offer the same opportunity for musical, spiritual and social development which the boys have enjoyed for so long. This includes an unparalleled musical education (spanning music from plainsong to the present day).
The Choirs sing regular choral services throughout the week and are thus able to minister in a unique way to the people in South London and beyond through tours and invitations to special events and occasions. They have become well known through broadcasts, concert, tours and recordings.