St Paul's Cathedral History - Everything You Need to Know
An Anglican cathedral redesigned by architect Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of 1666, St Paul’s Cathedral is an important landmark of London. Built on Ludgate Hill at the site of the original church, St Paul’s Cathedral is the Seat of the Bishop of London. Read on to know more about St Paul’s Cathedral history and what you can expect to see inside the cathedral.
St Paul’s Cathedral History In a Minute
Cathedrals before St Paul
The first church built at the site of St Paul’s Cathedral was a wooden building, dedicated to the apostle Paul in 604 AD. After it got burnt in a fire, a second cathedral was rebuilt between 675 AD and 685 AD. This was also destroyed by the Vikings during periodic invasions in 962. The cathedral was rebuilt again and was burnt down the same year before the construction of the fourth St Paul, also known as Old St Paul’s Cathedral.
Old St Paul’s Cathedral
After the third cathedral was burnt, Old St Paul’s Cathedral was built in 1087 that followed a Gothic architecture style. The quire of the cathedral was completed in 1148 that allowed this cathedral to be used as the place of worship and took another 150 years to be completed. By the 16th century, the church started to decay with the spire being destroyed by lightning in 1561. The cathedral was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666 after which the decision to make a new cathedral came into being.
St Paul’s Cathedral London Today
In 1969, Sir Christopher Wren was the architect for the present-day St Paul’s Cathedral London and laid the first stone on June 21, 1975. The Parliament declared the cathedral complete on December 25, 1711. In the 19th century, the Cathedral Chapter included mosaic and stained glass decorations to make the cathedral more inviting and a 15-year restoration project was started in the 20th century. This project involved extensive copper, slate, and lead work and was completed on June 15, 2011.
St Paul’s Cathedral Dome
St Paul’s Cathedral dome is the most notable exterior feature of this cathedral that was built in 1710 by Sir Christopher Wren. To ensure both visual appeal and strength, Wren designed a double-shelled dome with a brick cone supporting the outer dome and the ornate stone lantern that is placed on top of it. He included a peristyle around the dome’s drum that acts as a buttress for both the inner dome and the brick cone.
On top of the peristyle is the attic stage that is designed with alternating pilasters and rectangular windows and is surrounded by a balustrade balcony known as the Stone Gallery. Above the attic is the lead-covered dome which is ribbed according to the spacing of the pilasters.
Finally, the lantern that weighs 850 tons rises in stages. It follows a square plan where the tallest stage is in the form of a small temple with four columned porticos and the upper level offers support to the small dome that rises to a cross on a golden ball. At 365 feet, St Paul’s Cathedral Dome is one of the largest structures in the world.
What to See Inside St Paul’s Cathedral London
St Paul's Cathedral Dome
With 568 steps to the top, St Paul’s Cathedral Dome is one of the largest structures in the world with a unique three-dome design. Enjoy the 360-degree views of the London City and River Thames from the Golden Gallery and Stone Gallery.
The Whispering Gallery
The Whispering Gallery is the first gallery to visit inside St Paul’s Cathedral that is known for its acoustics. If you stand at one corner of the gallery and whisper, the person standing on the opposite corner to you will hear you loud and clear.
A ceremonial and public space, the Nave gives the first glimpse of the Dome to the visitors. Here, you will also witness the 30-foot-tall Great West Door, St. Paul’s eight life scene paintings by Thornhill, and a monument to the Duke of Wellington.
Inside St Paul’s Cathedral, you can access several interesting chapels from the nave. A few chapels to note on your visit are All Souls’ Chapel, St Dunstan’s Chapel, Middlesex Chapel, and so on.
At the vast crypt inside St Paul’s Cathedral, there are tombs of several notable figures including Sir Christopher Wren and the two greatest heroes of England - the Duke of Wellington and Lord Nelson.
Oculus: An Eye into St. Paul’s
Enjoy the 270-degree film experience at Oculus that will give you an outline of St Paul’s history of 1,400 years. There are several other films in the theatre such as Resurgam: I Will Rise Again(to show the destruction caused by the Great Fire and the Blitz), Virtual Access: The Dome, and Virtual Access: The Great Model.
There are several exterior features of interest at St Paul’s Cathedral such as the 180-foot-long West Front, the statue of St. Paul, Saint James, and Peter. There are two Baroque towers, one holding a peal of 12 bells and the other housing the largest bell in England named Great Paul.
The Cathedral Collections
The Cathedral Library is home to over 21,00 books and manuscripts of St. Paul’s from 1690 and the Object Collection consists of many St Paul’s history-related artifacts such as paintings, models, etc.
All Your Questions About St Paul’s Cathedral History Answered
A. St Paul’s Cathedral London was built between 1675 and 1711.
A. Sir Christopher Wren redesigned and rebuilt St Paul’s Cathedral London.
A. Old St Paul’s Cathedral was on the site before St Paul’s Cathedral London after the former got destroyed in the Great Fire of London.
A. The famous lead-covered dome of St Paul’s Cathedral London was built in 1710.
A. St Paul’s Cathedral London is famous for its three-dome structure that has dominated the London skyline for over 300 years. At 365 feet, the dome made St Paul’s Cathedral the tallest building in London between 1710 and 1963 and is one of the highest structures in the world.