Bermondsey, on the south bank of the Thames, was the site of a monastery by 715 and later of an important Cluniac abbey founded in 1082. The discovery of springs in the 18th century resulted in Bermondsey becoming a spa but by the mid-nineteenth century, it had become a notorious slum. The blitz along wth industrial decline resulted in much riverside dereliction. However, there has now been much urban renewal. The Borough of Bermondsey was created in 1900 and from 1964 it has been part of the London Borough of Southwark.

In 1743 John Wesley was offered the Snowsfields Arian chapel but lost the use of it following his breach with Thomas Maxfield; it was replaced by Crosby Row in 1764 and in turn by Southwark chapel in Long Lane in 1809 (closed in 1918). This became the head of the South London WM Mission in 1889, and the centre for considerable social action. Under the superintendency of Henry T. Meakin, Bermondsey Central Hall (by the architect Charles Bell) was opened, the first in London.. The Bermondsey Settlement, founded by J. Scott Lidgett in 1892, closed in 1967. An early resident of the Settlement was Alfred Salter and the mission superintendent was Roderick M.Kedward, both of whom served on the borough council and represented Bermondsey West in Parliament. Oakley Place, opened in 1876 and closed in 1980, was the first ministerial appointment for Donald Soper from 1926 to 1929 and from 1930 to 1934 for David Mace, founder of the Marriage Guidance Council; Lord Annan (1916-1980), British Military Intelligence Officer and later Vice- Chancellor of London University, was for a time the Brotherhood Secretary.

Primitive Methodism from the 1870s was represented by the South East London Mission and this led to the opening of St. George's Hall, Old Kent Road .(by the architect J. Banister Fletcher) in 1900 It closed in 1960 after bomb damage. The Hall's first minister was James Flanagan, 1892 to 1905, and it was also served by Joseph Johnson, 1902 to 1915. The Methodist New Connexion was represented from 1855 by Zion, Neale Street, closed 1964. Manor United Methodist Free Church, Galleywell Road, was opened in 1856, but the church itself was destroyed in 1940 and replaced in 1955.

  • J.D. Beasley, The Bitter Cry Heard and Heeded: the story of the South London Mission, 1889-1989 (1990)