St George the Martyr Church in Borough High Street is to close next month for a £3.6 million restoration. Work begins on 1 September.
The announcement was made by Parish Clerk Ken Hayes during a reception at the church to thank donors including the Corporation of London. St George's is one of the City's ten benefices.
Also announced was a plan to set up a music teaching facility at St George's to be overseen by Director of Music David Adkins. Students will be able to study for GCSE and A Level Music exams. Lessons are to be hosted at St John's Waterloo until St George's reopens.
Southwark historian Stephen Humphry, delivering a lecture on the historic church's long history, claimed that it was the oldest St George's church in London. He also recalled Southwark's long assocition with the City of London and its livery companies which in the past had contributed towards maintaining the church fabric.
"The present church bears the City arms, and those of the Drapers, Skinners, Grocers and Fishmongers" he said.
In addition to Charles Dickens, who lived in the parish and set part of Little Dorrit in the church, the great names associated with the church include General Monck, who came for his secret wedding during Cromwell's rule, and Nahum Tate, author of the Christmas carol While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night, who is buried there.
Guests were asked not to walk down the main aisle due to the unstable ceiling.
A further £500,000 still needs to be raised to restore the organ, retune the peal of bells and convert the crypt which may become a restaurant.
• The St George's congregation will be worshipping in Guy's Hospital Chapel during the closure of their church building.
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