St Paul’s Cathedral
We wandered down here one day after we visited the British Library (which I posted about HERE) and we probably should have snacked a bit because there is a lot of history and things to learn in this place. Be prepared… is all I’m saying. Too much coolness to be missed because you’re hungry grump. Maybe that happened… maybe it didn’t. Either way, here’s what we saw.
Can we talk about scale for a minute? I mean… massive and grand are a few words that come to mind.
St Paul’s Cathedral was pretty cool. We walked in and paid the £16 each to walk around and explore and be toured. Our tour guide was a lovely woman named Gillian, we called her Gill. We learned about the giant doors at the entry that get opened maybe once a year, they weight something like a ton and operate on ball bearings… amazing.
The Cathedral itself was built between 1675 and 1710. An interesting fact we learned was that there were 3 schemes for the 4th version of the Cathedral. The King liked the 3rd version, Sir Christopher Wren liked the 2nd options. He wrote 2 conditions into his contract.
- He could choose his own workers. Craftsmen, stone masons, painters, sculptures… he had his pick.
- He could make any “ornamental changes” he wanted.
So Sir Christopher thought he would use the ruins of the Cathedral lost in The Great Fire of 1666 as scaffolding of sort, and proceeded to block the view of the new work with these remains. The new footprint would be 3/4 the size of its predecessor. Turns out that Sir Christopher was being sneaky and built the 2nd version, perhaps knowing that when it was all said and done King Charles II would no longer be around to notice. This is the story Gill told us anyway, I like it if I do say so myself.
One of my mom’s first questions to me when we first walked in was…
“Why are there so many statues of men from the war? It doesn’t seem like the church is a place for that.”
And her question was answered in the tour. Gill told us that all of those statues were originally at Westminster Abbey and then they realize…
“Hey St Paul’s doesn’t have any war memorial statues… we should move half of them over there!” So said the person in charge of statue placement.
The Cathedral is beautiful. The first time I walked in I was amazed at the mosaic ceilings… thousands of beautiful tiny pieces of glass and tile. They ask you not to take pictures… but… lets be honest… we all take pictures. It was interesting to find out that Sir Christopher Wren wanted mosaics, but wasn’t allowed to install them originally. They were designed by Sir William Richmond in the 1890s. I wonder if Sir Wren would approve.
Wren had a simple, less ornate design in mind and you can see this when you first walk in because the ceilings are clean and beautiful and as you walk through the cathedral it starts to get more colorful and vibrant.
One of the places they welcomed us to take pictures was in the Dean’s Entry. These stairs are not cantilevered. “What?” You ask, astonished. They are each supported just a little but by the stair below. Lovely, graceful and inspiring if you ask me.
One thing that surprised me was that there is an American Memorial Chapel to soldiers who died in WWII where the original altar stood and was destroyed during a bombing in the war. Very nice surprise. We didn’t make it up to see the Whispering Gallery but I saw pics from another blog I follow The Londoner and you can see some there or this other blog I just found A Southern Belle in London.
After the tour we had been there for about 2 hours so we decided to head for some food. This was our view while we munched on pizza and drank red wine.