St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral
Structure in general
- A Cathedral dedicated to St. Paul has stood on this site for 1,400 years, before which the site was occupied by Roman churches and monuments. The first Christian Cathedral was built in 604AD for Mellitus, Bishop of the East Saxons. Built of wood, it burnt down in 675AD, was rebuilt 10 years later and was then destroyed by Vikings in 962AD.
- The next church on the site was built in stone, but this burnt down in 1087 and had to be rebuilt again. Its replacement, now known as Old St. Paul's Cathedral, was the longest Christian church in the world when it was completed in 1240.
- Enlargement of the new cathedral, which had a body of stone with a wooden roof, continued until 1314. In 1549-1561 the Cathedral had a brief reign as the world's tallest building, which ended when the spire was felled by lightning. The entire building was razed during the Great Fire of London in 1666.
- Following the Great Fire, which destroyed St. Paul's along with 87 Parish churches and 13,200 houses, Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to design a new Cathedral in 1668. Wren's 3rd design was approved in 1675, and construction took just 35 years.
- The building was completed in 1710 at a total cost of £738,845. Wren died 13 years later at the age of 91, and lies today under the dome of his greatest architectural feat.
- St. Paul's Cathedral is the largest Protestant Cathedral in the world, with one of the largest Cathedral domes. It remained the tallest building in London from 1710 until 1962 - an amazing 252 years.
- The West Front is crowned by two 87.5m (287ft) tall towers, dominating views down Ludgate Hill and Fleet Street.
- The inner and outer dome conceal a brick cone, the inherent strength of which is necessary to support the weight of the lantern.
- The frieze on the pediment above the western end of the cathedral is by Francis Bird and is a depiction of the conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus.
- St. Paul's is widely regarded as the greatest Baroque building in England.
- The height to the top is 365 feet - one foot for each day of the year.
- The Whispering Gallery is so-called because a whisper emitted at one end will carry round to the other side.
- Famous services held at the Cathedral include the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer and the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill.
- Works inside the Cathedral include wrought-iron gates by Jean Tijou and wood carvings by Grinling Gibbons.
- A Latin inscription on Wren's tomb in the Cathedral translates as 'Reader, if you seek his memorial, look about you'.
- The murals on the lantern, cupola and Whispering Gallery are by James Thornhill.
- The YMCA was founded above a draper's shop sited in St. Paul's churchyard in 1844.
- A Latin inscription below a Phoenix rising from the flames on the pediment above the south door reads 'Resurgam' or 'I shall rise again'.
- The dome of St. Paul's is the world's largest after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
- St. Paul's took 35 years to construct and employed around 1,000 workers to build.
- The cathedral is built from Portland stone.
- During the cathedral's construction, it was clad in scaffold to keep the true design a secret.
- The dome is made of wood, clad in lead sheeting and covers the brick cone which itself shrouds the inner dome.
- At the time, the cathedral was the first in Britain to be seen through from inception to completion by one architect.
- Sir Christopher Wren's son laid the cathedral's final stone; his father was too old and frail to accomplish the task.
- The cathedral is not only one of Britain's most famous jewels in its architectural and heritage crown, but is also one of the most famous places of worship in the world.
- The cathedral is the tallest place of worship in London.
- St. Paul's is one of both Britain's and London's most famous and visited tourist attractions.
- Recent services undertaken in the cathedral have been held to commemorate the victims of both the 11th September attacks in the United States and those who perished in the Asian tsunami of 2004.
- The cathedral houses 'Great Paul', the Bourdan bell cast by John Taylor Bellfounders in 1881. It is the largest bell in Britain and weighs 17,002 kilograms (37,483 pounds).
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St. Paul's Churchyard
Also recorded for this building:
Bell foundry, Artist
Features & Amenities
- One of the city's famous buildings
- City landmark
- National landmark
- Floodlighting at night
- Observation deck on roof