St Paul’s Cathedral, London, England

St Paul's Cathedral front, London, England

The west side front entrance of St Paul’s Cathedral.

St Paul’s Cathedral history

This is the fourth incarnation of St Paul’s Cathedral and fire is the burning issue.
The first St Paul’s was built by an East Saxon bishop in 604. It was burnt down and #2 rebuilt in 962. That was burnt down and #3 rebuilt in 1087 by the Normans. Another blaze took hold of the partly completed structure in 1136 but did not totally destroy it. #4 was completed but then burnt down during the Great Fire of London in 1666 and #5 was completed in 1710. The Luftwaffe tried to toast St Paul’s 1940-45 but failed.

The latest St Paul’s was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It’s 365 ft high (alert mathematicians may see some significance there) and was the tallest building in London until 1962.

St Paul’s Cathedral Sights

St Paul's Cathedral nave ceiling, London, England

The cathedral is blessed with a dazzling ceiling mosaic of glass crystals showing land and animal scenes (left) and marine scenes including spouting whales (right).

Some of the major events in the cathedral over the years, apart from being burnt to a crisp, were: the funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill; Jubilee celebrations for both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II; the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

St Paul's Cathedral dome interior, London, England

The dome (actually there are three inside one another) is relatively restrained and decorated specifically to be different from Roman Catholic cathedrals.

Visiting St Paul’s

Monday to Saturday 8. 30am-4. 00pm.
People who wish to join a service would probably enjoy Choral Evensong Tuesday to Saturday at 5pm.
Sunday is for worship only, no tourism.

St Paul’s vs Westminster Abbey

Like Westminster Abbey St Paul’s offers colour, history and monuments, though not the same quantity or antiquity as St Paul’s last build was completed a mere 300 years ago compared to Westminster’s 1, 000 year history.
However St Paul’s is much less crowded, is crowned with exceptional ceilings and offers treats in high places such as the Whispering Gallery (indoors, 30m high) and the Golden Gallery (outside 85m high).

St Paul's Cathedral Jesus Chapel, London, England

The Jesus Chapel, also known as the American Memorial Chapel, behind the High Altar. This chapel honours US servicemen who died in the European theatre of the Second World War.

The Whispering Gallery

Beyond and below the cross a circular balcony is visible in the distance. This is easy to access via a flight of spiral stairs and is known as the Whispering Gallery – word has it that if you whisper somewhere in the hemispherical roof chamber then another person some distance away (e. g. 25m/75ft) can hear you. True, but. . .

Whispering at a distance does work but only under under specific conditions:
a) put your head near the wall, facing the direction of the person you wish to communicate with.
b) Whisper, do not speak low, or high. Whisper! Sibilance rules, the frequency is vital.
c) it doesn’t work if there are people close to the wall between you and the recipient.
ps. the little holes in the walls every few metres have no connection to whispering. They are bases for annual checks on dome integrity by laser beam.

St Pauls upper gallery

The panoramic but less-than-awesome vista from the upper gallery of St Paul’s is 528 steps up, golden exercise that’s for sure. There’s a Stone Gallery at the 53m high point.

In the photo across the river on the South Bank is the popular, free Tate Modern art gallery, joined to the North Bank by the Millennium Bridge. To the left of the far side of the bridge is a partially concealed circular white building. That’s Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

The view west will take in the London Eye and Houses of Parliament.

St Paul's Cathedral Nelson's Tomb, London, England

Nelson’s tomb in the crypt. He made the long journey home pickled in brandy after winning the battle of Trafalgar but sadly dying in the process. No, he didn’t die of alcohol poisoning.

St Paul's Cathedral cafeteria, London, England

St Paul’s cafeteria, where some Oriental tourists are still getting to grips with innovative western eating tools.

Getting to St Pauls Cathedral

On Foot: It’s a pleasant walk of 10 minutes across the Thames on the Millennium Bridge from Tate Modern art gallery and 20 minutes east through the City from the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. 20 minutes west is London’s West End, starting with cute and lively Covent Garden shopping precinct.

By Bicycle: The only docking station currently nearby is in Newgate Street, west of the cathedral.

By Tube/Underground: The nearest station is St Paul’s. Failing that Mansion House and Cannon St. are not far.

By Bus: Take buses numbered 4, 11, 15, 23, 25, 26, 100, 242.

By Car: Don’t! No parking, no space, no tolerance. Taxis, no problem of course.