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The Story of Four Cathedral Buildings | St Paul’s Cathedral History

St. Paul’s Cathedral is an Anglican Cathedral located at the highest point of London City. It is one of the most recognizable landmarks of London, owing to its dome framed by Christopher Wren’s trademark spires. 

Read on to learn more about the history behind this iconic landmark of London. 

St. Paul's Cathedral timeline

1666: The Great Fire destroys the third cathedral, prompting the construction of the present St. Paul's.

1675-1710: Sir Christopher Wren oversees the design and building of the current cathedral.

1711: The cathedral's dome stands at almost 365 feet, making it one of the tallest domes in the world.

1940s: Solemn services mark the end of World Wars I and II.

1960s: The funerals of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher are held at the cathedral.

1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana marry in a grand ceremony at St. Paul's.

2002: The Queen Mother's funeral service takes place at the cathedral.

2012: A special service commemorates Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.

Present: St. Paul's Cathedral remains a revered symbol of London's history and resilience.

History of St. Paul’s Cathedral explained

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1666: The Great Fire of London

The Great Fire of London in 1666 devastated the third St. Paul's Cathedral, prompting its demolition. Sir Christopher Wren was then tasked with designing and overseeing the construction of the current St. Paul's Cathedral. Completed in 1710, it emerged as an enduring symbol of London's resilience and architectural excellence.

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1675-1710: Construction of the new St. Paul's Cathedral

From 1675 to 1710, Sir Christopher Wren, a distinguished architect, orchestrated the meticulous design and construction of the current St. Paul's Cathedral. This architectural marvel epitomizes the English Baroque style, featuring grandeur, intricate detailing, and harmonious proportions. Wren's innovative fusion of classical and contemporary elements is evident, reflecting his visionary approach to cathedral design.

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1711: The construction of the dome

In 1711, St. Paul's Cathedral's iconic dome soared to nearly 365 feet, ranking among the world's tallest. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, this architectural feat reflects extraordinary engineering and design acumen. The dome's towering presence enhances the cathedral's majesty and embodies the era's pioneering ingenuity, firmly establishing St. Paul's Cathedral as a monumental fixture in London's skyline.

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1940s: Ceremonies post World War

During the 1940s, St. Paul's Cathedral solemnly held services commemorating the end of World Wars I and II. These ceremonies paid tribute to the sacrifices made during the conflicts, underscoring the cathedral's pivotal role as a national site for remembrance and reflection on wartime history. Such events reaffirmed its symbolic significance as a beacon of resilience and unity.

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1960s: Funerals of Churchill and Thatcher

During the 1960s, St. Paul's Cathedral served as the solemn venue for the funerals of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, two esteemed figures. These ceremonies honored their distinguished legacies and emphasized the cathedral's status as a site of national importance for commemorating notable individuals. Such events showcased the cathedral's historical significance in hosting pivotal state occasions and honoring prominent figures.

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1981: Royal wedding at St. Paul's Cathedral

In 1981, St. Paul's Cathedral provided a majestic backdrop for Prince Charles and Lady Diana's royal wedding, a globally celebrated event known for its grandeur and romance. This iconic ceremony symbolized hope and joy, highlighting the cathedral's enduring significance as a venue for prestigious occasions. 

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2002: Funeral of the Queen Mother

In 2002, St. Paul's Cathedral reverently hosted the funeral service of Queen Elizabeth - The Queen Mother. Dignitaries and mourners from across the globe gathered to pay homage to the revered royal figure. The cathedral's grandeur served as a dignified backdrop for the solemn occasion, honoring the Queen Mother's life and legacy with respect and reverence.

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2012: Diamond Jubliee at the Cathedral

2012 witnessed St. Paul's Cathedral hosting a jubilant celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. Attended by the royal family and Commonwealth representatives, the service honored the Queen's 60 years of devoted service to the nation. The cathedral symbolized the enduring relationship between the monarchy and the Church of England.

Present: The Cathedral as it is today

Today, St. Paul's Cathedral is a dynamic center of worship, drawing visitors worldwide. Beyond its role as a historic landmark, it provides insight into London's architectural legacy. Its resilience, surviving through centuries of challenges, symbolizes the city's endurance. 




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St. Paul’s Cathedral Today

Today, St. Paul's Cathedral is one of the world's best-known cathedrals and one of the most recognizable sights in London. It is also the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church to other churches in the Diocese of London. St. Paul's Cathedral is a working church that offers hourly prayer and daily services. Guests attending these services can enter the cathedral for free.

Frequently Asked Questions on St Paul’s Cathedral’s history

When was the first St. Paul’s Cathedral constructed?

The first St. Paul’s Cathedral was constructed in 604 by Saint Mellitus and Saint Augustine.

Why did the Old St. Paul’s Cathedral burn down?

The Old St. Paul’s burned down during the devastating Great Fire of London in 1666.

How many St. Paul's Cathedral versions have existed, and why were they built?

There have been four versions of St. Paul's Cathedral. Each successive cathedral was built to replace the previous one, usually due to destruction by fire, war, or natural disasters.

How did St. Paul's Cathedral survive during World War II?

St. Paul's Cathedral miraculously survived the Blitz during World War II, remaining largely unscathed despite heavy bombing in the surrounding areas.

Who built the new St. Paul’s Cathedral?

The new St. Paul’s Cathedral was built by renowned English architect, Sir Christopher Wren.

What is St. Paul’s Cathedral significant for?

St. Paul Cathedral is one of the landmarks of the city of London, and it is the second-largest church building in the area in the UK.

Can I get free tickets to St. Paul’s Cathedral?

Entry to St. Paul’s Cathedral is free for people visiting the services.

Can I buy tickets to St. Paul’s Cathedral?

Yes, tickets to St Paul’s cathedral can be purchased online. Get your tickets here