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St Paul's Cathedral is the Anglican cathedral on Ludgate Hillmarker in the City of Londonmarker and the seat of the Bishop of London. The present building dates from the 17th century and is generally reckoned to be London's fifth St Paul's Cathedral, not counting every major medieval reconstruction as a new cathedral. The cathedral sits on the highest point of the City of Londonmarker, which originated as the Roman trading post of Londiniummarker situated on the River Thames. The cathedral is one of London's most visited sights.

The nearest London Underground station is St. Paul'smarker.

St Paul's Cathedral Today

St Paul's Cathedral today is a busy working church. Daily services are held every day to which all are welcome to attend. Whilst the Cathedral charges for those who wish to sightsee, it does not charge for people who want to worship. Those attending services at St Paul's do so at no cost. People seeking a place to be quiet and pray are admitted to the St Dunstan's Chapel free of charge. Admission on Sundays for all services is free and there is no sightseeing.

The Royal Family holds most of their important marriages, christenings and funerals at Westminster Abbeymarker, but St Paul's was used for the marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. The religious service for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee was also celebrated there.

In 2001, Britain's memorial service to honour the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks was held at the cathedral, attended by the Royal Family and then-U.S. ambassador William Farish. Prince Philip spoke, as did Farish, and Farish said in 2004 in The Times just before he resigned as ambassador that this service showed the strong relationship between the US and Britain. On 1 November 2005, it held a memorial service for the 7 July bombings.

It is possible to climb the 530 steps to the Golden Gallery, where there are panoramic views of London. In 2000, the cathedral began a major restoration programme to celebrate the 300th anniversary of its 'topping out'. A ceremony to celebrate the anniversary was directed by Patrick Garland. The restoration programme cost £40 million, and involves repair and cleaning of the building, and improvement of visitor facilities, such as accessibility for the disabled, and provision of additional educational facilities. The programme of cleaning and repairs will be finished by 2011.

Projection onto the dome of the Cathedral in 2008

Previous cathedrals


There had been a late-Roman episcopal see in London. According to the tradition recorded by Bede, the first Saxon cathedral was built by Mellitus in AD 604 in Lundenwic. The unproven conjecture that it occupied the site of the present cathedral is that it was these missionaries' habit, as in mainland Europe, to build cathedrals within Roman cities. However, the Roman city of London, then called Lundenburh, was unoccupied at that time, unlike conditions in the areas of continental Europe where there was continuity of urban occupation and ecclesiastic succession. Geoffrey of Monmouth claimed that the cathedral had been built on the site of a temple dedicated to the goddess Diana, in alignment with the Apollo Temple that he imagined once stood at Westminstermarker, although Christopher Wren found no evidence of this (Kruger 1943). Geoffrey was disbelieved by contemporaries, and there is no evidence of any occupation at the Westminster site in the Roman period. If any church building existed, perhaps a reutilised existing structure, then it would have only been a modest chapel at first and may well have been destroyed after Mellitus was expelled from the city by Sæberht's pagan successors.

Wherever its predecessor was sited, the successor building within the reoccupied City (built ca 886) was destroyed in a "most fatal fire" in 962, as mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Presumably it was made of timber.

The third cathedral was begun in 962, perhaps in stone. In it was buried Ethelred the Unready. It burnt, with the whole city, in a fire in 1087, noted in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

'Old St Paul's'

The fourth St Paul's, known when architectural history arose in the 19th century as Old St Paul's, was begun by the Normans after the 1087 fire. Work took over 200 years, and a great deal was lost in a fire in 1136. The roof was once more built of wood, which was ultimately to doom the building. The church was consecrated in 1240, but a change of heart led to the commencement of an enlargement programme in 1256. When this 'New Work' was completed in 1314 — the cathedral had been consecrated in 1300 — it was the third-longest church in Europe. Excavations by Francis Penrose in 1878 showed it was long and wide (290 feet or 87 m across the transepts and crossing), and had one of Europe's tallest spires, at some 489 feet (149 m).

By the 16th century the building was decaying. Under Henry VIII and Edward VI, the Dissolution of the Monasteries and Chantries Acts led to the destruction of interior ornamentation and the cloisters, charnels, crypts, chapels, shrines, chantries and other buildings in St Paul's Churchyard. Many of these former religious sites in the churchyard, having been seized by the Crown, were sold as shops and rental properties, especially to printers and booksellers, who were often evangelical Protestants. Buildings that were razed often supplied ready-dressed building material for construction projects, such as the Lord Protector's city palace, Somerset Housemarker.

Crowds were drawn to the northeast corner of the Churchyard, St Paul's Crossmarker, where open-air preaching took place. In 1561 the spire was destroyed by lightning and it was not replaced; this event was taken by both Protestants and Catholics as a sign of God's displeasure at the other faction's actions.

England's first classical architect, Inigo Jones, added the cathedral's west front in the 1630s, but there was much defacing mistreatment of the building by Parliamentarian forces during the Civil War, when the old documents and charters were dispersed and destroyed (Kelly 2004). "Old St Paul's" was gutted in the Great Fire of Londonmarker of 1666. While it might have been salvageable, albeit with almost complete reconstruction, a decision was taken to build a new cathedral in a modern style instead. Indeed this had been contemplated even before the fire.

Wren's St Paul's

Design and construction

Image:St Paul's - the Greek Cross design.jpg|Wren's Greek Cross designImage:St Paul's - the warrant design.jpg|Wren's warrant designImage:St Paul's - the final design.jpg|Wren's cathedral as builtImage:StPaulsClockTower.jpg|The clock tower on the west end of the cathedralThe task of designing a replacement structure was officially assigned to Sir Christopher Wren in 1668, along with over fifty other City churches.

St. Paul’s went through five general stages of design. Wren initially began surveying the property and drawing up designs before the Great Fire of 1666marker, and these drawings for the most part included the addition of a dome on the existing building to replace the dilapidated spire, and a restoration of the interiors that would compliment the 1630 Inigo Jones-designed facade. After the fire, the ruins of the building were still thought to be workable, but ultimately the entire structure was demolished in the early 1670s to start afresh. Wren’s second design, the first to be a completely new building, was a Greek cross, which was considered to be too radical by his critics because it lacked the programme necessary to conduct mass.

Wren’s third proposal for the new St. Paul’s used many of the same design concepts as his Greek cross design, though it had an extended nave. This design was embodied in his creation in 1673 of the "Great Model". The model, made of oak and plaster, cost over £500 (approximately £32,000 today) and was over 13’ tall and 21’ long. His critics, members of a committee commissioned to rebuild the church and members of the clergy, decried the design as being too dissimilar from churches that already existed in England at the time to suggest any continuity within the Church of England. Clergymen also preferred a Latin cross plan for services. Another problem was that the entire design would have to be completed all at once because of the eight central piers that supported the dome, instead of being completed in stages and opened for use before construction finished, as was customary. Wren considered the Great Model his favorite design, and thought it a reflection of Renaissance beauty. After the Great Model, Wren resolved to make no more models or publicly expose his drawings, which he found to do nothing but "lose time, and subject his business many times, to incompetent judges".

Wren's fourth design, the Warrant design, sought to reconcile the Gothic, the predominant form of English churches, to a "better manner of architecture." Wren attempted to integrate the same concepts of Renaissance harmony into a much more Gothic style. This design was rotated slightly on its site so that it aligned not with true east, but with sunrise on Easter of the year construction began. This small change in configuration made by Wren was informed by his knowledge of astronomy. His design of the portico was influenced by Inigo Jones’s addition to Old St. Paul’s.

The final design as built differs largely in its ornamentation from the official Warrant design. Wren received permission from the king to make "ornamental changes" to the submitted design, and Wren took great advantage of this. Many of these changes were made over the course of the thirty years as the church was constructed, and the most significant was to the dome: "He raised another structure over the first cupola, a cone of brick, so as to support a stone lantern of an elegant figure... And he covered and hid out of sight the brick cone with another cupola of timber and lead; and between this and the cone are easy stairs that ascend to the lantern" (Christopher Wren, son of Sir Christopher Wren). The final design was strongly rooted in St. Peter’s Basilicamarker at the Vaticanmarker. The saucer domes that were eventually added to the design were inspired by François Mansart’s Val-de-Grâcemarker, which Wren had seen during a trip to Paris in 1665. The first stone of the cathedral was laid in 1677 by Thomas Strong, Wren's master stonemason.

On Thursday, 2 December 1697, thirty-two years and three months after a spark from Farryner's bakery had caused the Great Fire of London, St Paul's Cathedral came into use: it proved to be well worth the wait. The widower King William III had been scheduled to appear but, uncomfortable in crowds and public displays, had bowed out at the last minute. The crowd of both the great and the small was so big, and their attitude towards William so indifferent, that he was scarcely missed. The Right Reverend Henry Compton, Bishop of London, preached the sermon. It was based on the text of Psalm 122, "I was glad when they said unto me: Let us go into the house of the LORD." The first regular service was held on the following Sunday.

The 'topping out' of the Cathedral (when the final stone was placed on the lantern) took place in October 1708 and the Cathedral was declared officially complete by Parlimanet in 1710.

The consensus was as it is with all such works: some loved it ("Without, within, below, above the eye/ Is filled with unrestrained delight."); some hated it ("...There was an air of Popery about the gilded capitals, the heavy arches...They were unfamiliar, un-English.."); while most, once their curiosity was satisfied, didn't think about it one way or another.

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, "I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls,
Say I am designing St Paul's."
:A clerihew by Edmund Clerihew Bentley

Structural engineering

The walls of the cathedral are particularly thick to avoid the need for large flying buttresses. The windows are set into deep recesses in the walls. The upper parts of the cathedral walls are reinforced with small flying buttresses, which were a relatively late design change to give extra strength. These are concealed behind a large curtain wall, which was added to keep the building's classical style intact.

The large crossing dome is composed of three layers. The inner and outer layers are catenary curves, but the structural integrity to support the heavy stone structure atop the dome is provided by a intermediary layer which is much steeper and more conical in shape. The dome is restrained round its base by a wrought iron chain to prevent it spreading and cracking.

Artists and craftsmen

Image:St Paul's Cathedral London02.jpg | Interior of St. Paul's, looking towards the east.Image:Dome of st pauls.jpg | Looking up at the dome of St. Paul's.The construction and decoration of the Cathedral involved many of the foremost artists and craftsmen in England; these were:

  • Sir James Thornhill - painted the eight monochrome paintings of the life of St Paul that adorn the interior of the dome.Lang (1956), P.252 Engravings of the paintings were published in 1720.
  • Grinling Gibbons - responsible for the woodwork, most notably the choir stalls,Lang (1956), P.166 and sculpted the pediment of the north transept.Lang (1956), P.209
  • Jean Tijou - most of the wrought ironwork, including the gates flanking the high altar.Lang (1956), P.1692
  • Bernard Smith - designed and built the organ.Lang (1956), P.171
  • Caius Gabriel Cibber - sculpted the pediment of the south transept.Lang (1956), P.209
  • Francis Bird - sculpted the great west pediment showing the conversion of St Paul,Lang (1956), P.230 plus the seven large sculptures on the west front.Lang (1956), P.252


Great West Door.
West end clock tower
The cathedral is built of Portland stone in a late Renaissance style that represents England's sober Baroque. Its impressive dome was inspired by St Peter's Basilicamarker in Romemarker. It rises 365 feet (108 m) to the cross at its summit, making it a famous London landmark. Wren achieved a pleasing appearance by building three domes: the tall outer dome is non-structural but impressive to view, the lower inner dome provides an artistically balanced interior, and between the two is a structural cone that supports the apex structure and the outer dome. Wren was said to have been hauled up to the rafters in a basket during the building of its later stages to inspect progress.

The nave has three small chapels in the two adjoining aislesAll Souls and St Dunstan's in the north aisle and the Chapel of the Order of St Michael and St George in the south aisle. The main space of the cathedral is centred under the inner dome, which rises 108.4 metres from the cathedral floor and holds three circular galleries – the internal Whispering Gallery, the external Stone Gallery, and the external Golden Gallery.

The Whispering Gallery runs around the interior of the dome 99 feet (30.2 m) above the cathedral floor. It is reached by 259 steps from ground level. It gets its name because, as with any dome, a whisper against its wall at any point is audible to a listener with an ear held to the wall at any other point around the gallery. A low murmur is equally audible.

The base of the inner dome is 173 feet (53.4 m) above the floor. Its top is about 65 m above the floor, making this the greatest height of the enclosed space. The cathedral is some in length (including the portico of the Great West Door), of which is the nave and is the choir. The width of the nave is and across the transepts is . The cathedral is thus slightly shorter but somewhat wider than Old St Paul's.

The quire extends to the east of the dome and holds the stalls for the clergy and the choir and the organ. To the north and south of the dome are the transepts, here called the North Choir and the South Choir.

Details of the towers at the west end (illustration, left) and their dark voids are boldly scaled, in order to read well from the street below and from a distance, for the towers have always stood out in the urban skyline. They are composed of two complementary elements, a central cylinder rising through the tiers in a series of stacked drums, and paired Corinthian columns at the corners, with buttresses above them, which serve to unify the drum shape with the square block plinth containing the clock. The main entablature breaks forward over the paired columns to express both elements, tying them together in a single horizontal band. The cap, like a bell-shaped miniature dome, supports a gilded finial, a pinecone supported on four scrolling angled brackets, the topmost expression of the consistent theme.

The north-west tower contains 13 bells hung for change ringing while the south-west contains four, including Great Paul, at 16½ tons- the largest bell in the British Isles, cast in 1881, and Great Tom (the hour bell), recast twice, the last time by Richard Phelps, after being moved from St. Stephen's Chapelmarker at the Palace of Westminstermarker. The bell is only rung on occasions of a death in the royal family, the Bishop of London, or London's mayor, although an exception was made at the death of US President James Garfield.In 1717, Richard Phelps cast two more bells that were added as "quarter jacks". Still in use today, the first weighs , is in diameter and is tuned to A flat; the second weighs and is in diameter and is tuned to E flat.

Post-Wren history

This cathedral has survived despite being targeted during the Blitz- it was struck by bombs on 10 October 1940 and 17 April 1941. On 12 September 1940 a time-delayed bomb that had struck the cathedral was successfully defused and removed by a Bomb Disposal detachment of Royal Engineers under the command of Temporary Lieutenant Robert Davies. Had this bomb detonated, it would have totally destroyed the Cathedral, as it left a crater when it was later remotely detonated in a secure location. As a result of this action, Davies was awarded the George Cross, along with Sapper George Cameron Wylie.

On 29 December 1940, the cathedral had another close call when an incendiary bomb became lodged in the lead shell of the dome but fell outwards onto the Stone Gallery and was put out before it could ignite the dome timbers. A photograph taken that day showing the cathedral shrouded in smoke became a famous image of the times.


An aerial view of St Pauls

The cathedral has a very substantial crypt, holding over 200 memorials, and serves as both the Order of the British Empire Chapel and the Treasury. The cathedral has very few treasures: many have been lost, and in 1810 a major robbery took almost all of the remaining precious artefacts. Christopher Wren was the first person to be interred, in 1723: on the wall above his tomb in the crypt is written, "Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice" (Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you).

St Paul's is home to other plaques, carvings, statues, memorials and tombs of famous Britishmarker figures including:

Most of the memorials commemorate the British military, including several lists of servicemen who died in action, the most recent being the Gulf War. There are special monuments to Lord Nelson in the south transept and to the Duke of Wellington in the north aisle; both are buried here. Also remembered are poets, painters, clergy and residents of the local parish. There are lists of the Bishops and cathedral Deans for the last thousand years.

The apse of the cathedral is home to the American Memorial Chapel. It honours American servicemen and women who died in World War II, and was dedicated in 1958. It was paid for entirely by donations from British people, and was designed, as a modern exercise in the Wren style, by Godfrey Allen and Stephen Dykes Bower. The roll of honour contains the names of more than 28,000 Americans who gave their lives while on their way to, or stationed in, the United Kingdom during the Second World War. It is in front of the chapel's altar. The three chapel windows date from 1960; they feature themes of service and sacrifice, while the insignia around the edges represent the American states and the US armed forces. The limewood panelling incorporates a rocket - a tribute to America's achievements in spacemarker.

The cathedral has been the site of many famous funerals, including those of Horatio Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill and George Mallory.

St Paul's Cathedral Arts Project

The St Paul’s Cathedral Arts Project is an ongoing programme which seeks to explore the encounter between art and faith. Recent projects have included installations by Rebecca Horn, Yoko Ono and Martin Firrell.

In 2007, Dean and Chapter commissioned public artist Martin Firrell to create a major public artwork to mark the 300th anniversary of the topping-out of Wren's building. The Question Mark Inside consisted of digital text projections to the cathedral dome, West Front and inside onto the Whispering Gallery. The text was based on blog contributions by the general public as well as interviews conducted by the artist and the artist's own views. The project presented a stream of possible answers to the question: 'what makes life meaningful and purposeful, and what does St Paul's mean in that contemporary context?' The Question Mark Inside opened on 8 November 2008 and ran for 8 nights.

In 2009, St Paul's Cathedral commissioned Internationally acclaimed artist Bill Viola has been commissioned to createtwo altarpieces for permanent display in St Paul’s Cathedral. The project commenced production in mid 2009 with completion in early 2011. Bill Viola has been commissioned to create two altarpieces on the themes of Mary and Martyrs. These two multi-screen video installations will be permanently located at the end of the Quire aisles, flanking the High Altar of the Cathedral and the American Memorial Chapel where US Service men and women who gave their lives in the Second World War are commemorated.Each work will employ an arrangement of multiple plasma screen panels configured in a manner similar to historic altarpieces.

In 2007, the World Monuments Fund and American Express awarded St Paul's a grant as part of their Sustainable Tourism initiative. The project will open up rarely seen areas, relieve crowding in the nave- which suffers heavily from foot traffic and fluctuations in humidity- and fund a new Exploration Centre in the crypt. This centre will provide insight into a variety of topics relating to the cathedral, including architecture, history, science, music, and, of course, religion. A lapidarium of recovered medieval stones and the room containing Wren's "Great Model" (currently only seen by appointment) will also be opened to the public.

Organ and Organists


The organ was commissioned in 1694: the current instrument is the third-biggest in Britain with 7,189 pipes and 108 stops, enclosed in an impressive case by Grinling Gibbons.

Details of the organ from the National Pipe Organ Register

Organists & Directors of Music

Sub-Organists & Organists

In 2007 the posts of Organist and Director of Music were separated, the Sub-Organist post being re-titled Organist & Assistant Director of Music in September 2008.

  • Simon Johnson 2008 (September) - present

Assistant Sub-organists & Sub-Organists

In 2007 the posts of Organist and Director of Music were separated, the Assistant Sub-Organist post being re-titled Sub-Organist in April 2008.

  • Tim Wakerell 2008 (September) - present

Almoners & Masters of the Choristers

  • Richard Bellamy 1793-1800 (Vicar Choral)
  • John Sale 1800-1812 (Vicar Choral)
  • William Hawes 1812-1846
The title of Almoner then passed to one of the Minor Canons, a succession of Vicars Choral teaching singing to the choristers, including -
  • Fred Walker ????-1874 (Vicar Choral)
until -
  • George Martin 1874-1876 (subsequently Sub-Organist & then Organist)
The training of the choristers was then entrusted to the Organist & his deputies until - The post was re-united with that of Organist under John Scott in 1990

Organ Scholars

Some notable Choristers & Vicars Choral

Interior view


See also




  • Lang, Jane (1956). Rebuilding St. Paul's after the Great Fire of London. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Further reading

  • St Pauls and the City by Frank Atkinson (With numerous photographic plates, both in colour, and black and white). Michael Joseph - Park Lane Press (London) in 1985 with an ISBN 0 7181 2629 7
  • The Chapel of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Frederic Hood with a foreword by Prince Phillip. (Mainly colour plates on glossy paper relating to St. Paul's Cathedral - 65 pages with descriptive text) Detail from a copy of the book published by OUP (Oxford University Press) at Oxfordmarker in 1967 with no ISBN
  • St Paul's - The Cathedral Church of London 604-2004 ed Keene, Burn & Saint. Yale University Press 2004 ISBN 0 300 09276 8

External links

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