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Great London Buildings: St Paul’s Cathedral

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St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most iconic landmarks in London. The current cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1710 after the original medieval cathedral was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. In this article, we will explore the history of St. Paul’s Cathedral and its significance in London’s history.

The original St. Paul’s Cathedral was built in 1087 and was the largest church in England at the time. It was a symbol of the power of the church and the monarchy, and it played an important role in the religious and political life of London. However, the cathedral suffered significant damage during the English Civil War in the 17th century, and it was largely destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

After the fire, there was a debate about whether to rebuild St. Paul’s Cathedral or to build a new church elsewhere. Eventually, it was decided to rebuild the cathedral on the same site, and a competition was held to select a design. Sir Christopher Wren, who was already well-known for his work as an architect and mathematician, submitted a design that was selected as the winner.

Interior of St Paul’s Cathedral BBC View

The design that Wren submitted was a masterpiece of Baroque architecture. It featured a large dome that was inspired by the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and it was supported by four smaller domes at the corners of the building. The cathedral was built using Portland stone, which gave it a distinctive white color and made it stand out from the surrounding buildings.

The construction of the cathedral was a massive undertaking and took over 30 years to complete. It was built on the same site as the original cathedral, and many of the original features were incorporated into the new design. The cathedral was consecrated in 1697, but it was not fully completed until 1710.

Great London Buildings: St Paul’s Cathedral
Wren’s Model of St Paul’s available on the Triforium Tour

St. Paul’s Cathedral has played an important role in London’s history ever since it was completed. It has been the site of many important events, including the funerals of Sir Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, as well as the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. It has also been the site of many important religious ceremonies, including the installation of the current Archbishop of Canterbury.

The cathedral has also played an important role in the cultural life of London. It has been featured in many films and television shows, including Mary Poppins, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Doctor Who. It has also been the inspiration for many works of literature, including T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land.”

St. Paul’s Cathedral is not only a symbol of London’s history but also a symbol of its resilience. The cathedral survived the Great Fire of London, the Blitz during World War II, and many other challenges throughout its history. It has been a source of inspiration and comfort to the people of London for over 300 years.

St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most important landmarks in London’s history. It is a symbol of London’s history and resilience and will continue to be a source of inspiration for generations to come.

Frequently Asked Questions about St Paul’s Cathedral

Where is St Paul’s Cathedral in London?

St Paul’s Cathedral is located in the City of London, on Ludgate Hill, at the highest point of the City.

Can you get married in St Paul’s Cathedral in London?

Yes, it is possible to get married at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. However, there are certain criteria that need to be met, such as being a member of the Church of England, having a connection to the cathedral, and obtaining a special license from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Additionally, there is a waiting list for weddings at St Paul’s Cathedral due to its popularity as a wedding venue.

When is St Pual’s Cathedral Open?

St Paul’s Cathedral is open to visitors six days a week, from Monday to Saturday. The opening hours are from 8:30 am to 4 pm, with the last admission at 3:30 pm. However, the cathedral may be closed or have restricted access due to events or services, so it’s always best to check the official website or call ahead to confirm the opening hours before planning your visit. There is an admission charge. However, if you wish to attend service, there is no charge (but you cannot wander around as a visitor). Book St Paul’s Cathedral Tickets here.

When is Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral?

The Evensong service at St Paul’s Cathedral takes place every day at 5 pm, except on Sundays when it starts at 3:15 pm. It’s a beautiful service that features choral music, hymns, and prayers, and it’s open to the public to attend. Keep in mind that the schedule may change due to special events or holidays, so it’s best to check the cathedral’s website for up-to-date information.

Can you tour St Paul’s Cathedral?

Yes, visitors can tour St Paul’s Cathedral. There are various guided tours available, such as the Audio Tour, the Triforium Tour, and the Crypt Tour. Additionally, visitors can explore the cathedral on their own with a general admission ticket. It’s recommended to book tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist season, to avoid long lines and ensure availability.

How many stairs does the St Paul’s Cathedral in London dome have?

The St Paul’s Cathedral dome in London has a total of 528 steps. Visitors who climb to the top of the dome can enjoy stunning panoramic views of the city, but it’s important to note that it can be quite a strenuous climb and is not recommended for those with mobility issues or a fear of heights.

Was Harry Potter Filmed at St Paul’s Cathedral?

Yes, the St Paul’s Geometric Staircase was used in the filming of the Harry Potter movies several times, particularly as the route to the Divination classroom. The staircase can be seen on the Triforium tour.

Author: jonathan

Jonathan is a consummate Anglophile who launched Anglotopia.net in 2007 to channel his passion for Britain. Londontopia is its sister publication dedicated to everything London.

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  1. I have some wonderful paintings of St Paul’s Cathedral by my late husband, Cyril Mann (1911-1980). One is called ‘St Paul’s from Moor Lane’, dated 1948. The other is a view painted by Cyril, who set up his easel on Bankside, viewing the dome of the cathedral in stormy weather c1950. There are red topped barges on the Thames. These, and many historical post war paintings should be in The Museum of London. No other artist painted London’s war damage soon after WW2. Cyril paid the price! He couldn’t sell them. Even after he had died in 1980, the Museum of London curator thought there was nothing of pictorial or historical interest in these fantastic images of devastation. The result: nearly all have been sold into important American private collections. Please see Cyril’s website. People who lived through the war tell me: ‘Seeing these paintings, I can smell the cordite’.


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