The Legend of Mary Overie
Legend suggests that before the construction of London Bridge in the tenth century a ferry existed here. Ferrying passengers across the River Thames was a lucrative trade. John Overs who, with his watermen and apprentices, kept the “traverse ferrie over the Thames”, made such a good living that he was able to acquire a considerable estate on the south bank of the river.
John Overs, a notorious miser, devised a plan to save money. He would feign death, believing that his family and servants would fast out of respect and thereby save a day’s provisions. However, when he carried out the plan, the servants were so overjoyed at his death that they began to feast and make merry. In a rage the old man leapt out of bed to the horror of his servant, one of whom picked up a broken oar and “thinking to kill the Devil at the first blow, actually struck out his brains”.
The ferryman’s distressed daughter Mary sent for her lover, who in haste to claim the inheritance fell from his horse and broke his neck. Mary was so overcome by these misfortunes that she devoted her inheritance to founding a convent into which she retreated.
This became the priory of Saint Mary Overie, Mary having been made a saint on account of her charity. During the Reformation the church of St. Mary Overie described as “a fair church called St. Mary over the Rie, that is over the water” was renamed St. Saviour’s Church. In 1905 it became Southwark Cathedral and the Collegiate Church of St. Saviour and St. Mary Overie.
The project was funded by Allied Domecq PLC, J&W Nicholson & Co. (Holdings) Limited, Groundwork and The Single Regeneration Budget. The project was supported by ANZ Investment Bank DNV and the Golden Hinde Educational Museum. Designed by Panter Hudspith Architects and managed by Groundwork Southwark.
Site: Mary Overie (1 memorial)
SE1, Clink Street
This memorial is here to explain the odd name of the dock. However the dock is named after the church which was called "St Mary over the river" to distinguish it from all the other St Marys in the City.
Behind the structure holding the plaque, moored up in St Mary Overie's Dock, you can see a tourist attraction, a reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake's Golden Hinde.
There are 3 other signs around this dock worthy of note: Firstly - a modern information board giving some history relevant to the Golden Hinde.
Secondly - attached to the railings at the southern end of the dock is a blue sign reading "St Mary Overie's Dock, from the 16th century. Notice: this Dock is a free landing place at which the Parishioners of St Saviour's Parish are entitled to land goods free of toll. By order of Wardens of the Parish of St Saviour, Southwark, Warden's Office, 8 Southwark St, SE1."
Thirdly - attached to the south wall of the modern building to the east of the dock is a old stone plaque, behind glass, reading "Saint Saviour’s Southwark. The ground between the west side of this warehouse and the footpath opposite extending 93 feet 7 inches from the north end of Church Street to Saint Mary Overy’s Dock, is the private property of the parish of Saint Saviour’s Southwark, the greatest width south end is 13 feet the narrowest 9 feet 10 inches. The common use thereof has been granted to the public by the wardens but without prejudice to exclusive possession being at any time resumed. Dated this seventh day of June 1859, Joseph E. Newsom, Warden of the Great ???." A last word is surely required, possibly 'Church', but all that can be seen is dirt behind the glass.