St Paul's Cathedral is an iconic London Cathedral and the masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren, built in Portland stone, crowned by a magnificent dome; and a famous landmark on the London skyline. At its front, a grand flight of steps leads to the superb west façade, a double storey portico and two Baroque towers. The left tower houses the largest bell in England, "Great Paul" cast in 1882 and weighing 17 tonnes.
St. Paul's was a national inspiration to the nation during the Second World War, when much of the surrounding area was destroyed during the Blitz, pictures were shown of St. Paul's standing steadfast, its dome wreathed in smoke and flames. It was miraculous that St. Paul's survived such an onslaught, although not completely unscathed. A bomb demolished the High Alter, and the Crypt suffered damage as did many of the stained glass windows. These were later replaced with clear glass, which was Wren's original intention, improving the light within the Cathedral.
Originally the site of a Roman Temple to Diana, the site has had several churches built upon it. The present Cathedral replaces the Old St. Pauls, which was destroyed in the great fire of London in 1666. Sir Christopher Wren was then commissioned to design the replacement. His first two designs were turned down before finally his third design was accepted, and work begun in 1675. The first service was held in 1697 but it was a further 13 years before work was completed in 1710.
The Crypt, thought to be the largest in Europe, contains around 200 memorials, many of famous past historic figures and those of Britain's glorious history. Here are the tombs of Nelson, Wellington, and of Sir Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin. In "Artist's Corner" are the graves of Sir Arthur Sullivan the composer, Sir Henry Moor the sculptor, the artists Sir John Everett Millais and Joshua Reynolds.
Plan your visit to St Paul's Cathedral
As one of London's most famous attractions, a visit to this iconic Cathedral is unrivalled by other worldwide landmarks, and visitors are promised a rewarding visit to this truly historical building. Book accommodation nearby and check visiting times below.
- Book a Private Walking Tour of St Paul's Cathedral - an in-depth private tour hosted by a professional art history guide
- St Paul's Cathedral Official Website - information, visiting times and more