St Paul's Cathedral is one of the more iconic sites in London and was built in its present state in the late 17th century, by Sir Christopher Wren, having been destroyed in the Great Fire of London (1666). In fact there had been a church on the site since the 7th century, and this was not the first time it was destroyed by fire.
I first visited St Paul's Cathedral as a child and remembered climbing up to the Whispering Gallery. My most recent visit was on its annual 'free' day which coincides with the Lord Mayor's Show (usually a Saturday in November), but otherwise it is £18 to get in (concessions available).
The nave as you arrive is spectacular, and the cathedral seems quite spacious (they may have taken seats away if there wasn't as service as it didn't seem cluttered at all). It's nice to walk down and is very well maintained. It doesn't have as many sculptures and memorials compared to the ancient Westminster Abbey. Don't forget to look up when you get under the Dome. I didn't climb up it this time (there was a queue).
The crypt underneath the main part of the cathedral was the part I spent most time in. There is an informative timeline of the life of St Paul's since first consecrated. This is also the place to see the tombs of the likes of Lord Nelson and Duke of Wellington amongst others. A lot of older tombs were destroyed in the fire. Mainly it is military giants, but the likes of Alexander Fleming and Florence Nightingale (who was rather hard to find) are also here.
The price to get in is high, so maybe worth coming on the busy (but free) Lord Mayor's day. I am really pleased I made the effort
On 20th June 2013 I went to London for visiting St Paul's Cathedral with my friends.
Brief information about St Paul's Cathedral:
St Paul's Cathedral is a Church of England cathedral and seat of the Bishop of London. It was founded in AD604 and was destroyed many times. The present church was built in the late 17th century and designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It has been one of the most famous and most recognisable sights of London.
What to see in St Paul's Cathedral:
St Paul's Cathedral is a building of English Baroque style. For tourist the visit of the building includes three parts.
(1) The Cathedral Floor
Following the multimedia guide the visit starts from the Baptismal Front, which is located at the main entrance of St Paul's Cathedral. Next is the Nave. Like the great Medieval cathedral of York, St Paul's Cathedral nave is long and wide. There were many historic moments happened here. Walking along the nave you will see the beautiful dome, which is the most visible and most notable features in London. The dome has mosaic paintings with religious stories. It's the finest dome I have seen in my life. There was a group students around the centre of the dome to practice songs. At the end of the Quire is the High altar, there is a Jesus Statue. At the end of the North Transept there is a painting, The Light of the World by William Holman Hunt. It is a really great painting. I was touched when I saw it.
(2) The Crypt
The Crypt is underground. It's the memorial place of many British great people and militaries soldiers. First you will see Winston Churchill memorial gate, from which you can enter to the memorial area. Wllington's tomb and Nelson's tomb are very noticeable you can't miss them. You can also see William Blake's memorial and Christopher Wren's tomb. I was surprised to pass Florence Nightingale's memorial wall. Outside the Crypt there is an Oculus, where you can see St Paul's views film. You can also have a lunch at the restraunt nearby. By the way the toilets are also in this level.
(3) The Galleries
The Galleries visit includes there parts. The first is the Whispering Gallery, which is 30 meters from Cathedral floor and 257 steps up. The second is the Stone Gallery, which is 53 meters from Cathedral floor and 376 steps up. The third is the Golden Gallery, which is 85 meters from Cathedral floor and 528 steps up. The East view from the Golden Gallery include the Barbican, Tower 42, Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast, etc. The Southe to West View include the Shard, Tate Modern, London Eye and Watierloo Bridge, etc. The views were fantastic and really worthy the effort. However bear in mind the steps are very narrow and you can only stay on the top of the cathedral for a couple of minutes.
St Paul's Cathedral is located in the city of London. You can take bus, tube or train to get it. The coronation station is the nearest spot to walk to the cathedral.
Opening times and prices:
St Paul's Cathedral is open for sightseeing from Monday to Saturday between 8.30am - 4pm. Currently the admissions are £16 for adult and £8 for child. If you book earlier on line you can get some discount.
St Paul's Cathedral is a fantastical and impressive church of England, which has a significant influnce in british history. It's a great place for a day out.
St Paul's Cathedral is quite possibly the most beautiful building in London. We lived within a half-hour walk of St Paul's for several months, and on some days I ended up walking home from the bus-stop near the Cathedral, I can't recall why, now, but I do remember seeing that building in all weathers, at all times of day (and night) and in various seasons. At first I wasn't sure: I am not that fond of monumental buildings, and Rome's St Peter's, although both impressive and fascinating, left me aesthetically less-than-awed. But, imperceptibly, St Paul's beauty crept up on me. I remember seeing the silhouette of the church one evening, almost-black purple on the background of almost-purple evening sky, and feeling deep gratefulness that I was given the chance to see it.
There has been a church here for over 15 centuries, but the current building dates to Christopher Wren's massive building programme after the Great Fire that ravaged the City in 1666. It is the seat of the Bishop of London and a massive,monumental church with second-largest dome in the world and it is a focus of English (and British) national pride as well as being one of the icons of London. During the WW2 it was symbolic of London's resistance during the Blitz, and it was (and remains) a place for many state occasions, from the funerals of Nelson and Churchill to Jubilee celebrations as well as - in hindsight - less worthy occasions like the overt-the-top wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer.
Wren submitted many proposals for the replacement church before a design was accepted, and even his final project - so-called Warrant Design - was substantially changed during the construction which took over 20 years. Wren employed Nicholas Hawksmoor, the future architect of several other outstanding churches of the era, as his principal assistant.
St Paul's is usually classified as an example of late Renaissance or ''rationalised'' English Baroque. English Baroque had, on the surface, little to do with the often overblown and breathlessly ornamental designs of continental Baroque (although there were great variations in that as well between various regions). English Baroque, best exemplified by Christopher Wren's body of work, has more to do with the preceding Renaissance (Palladian) styles and the following neo-Classical (Palladian revival). Baroque proper never really caught on in Britain, partially because its associations with triumphant Catholicism, and partially because of the English distaste for histrionic overstatement so characteristic of that style. What Wren (and other architects of the period) took from the Continental Baroque designs was a dynamic equilibrium of changing views, a spirit of construction rather then a specific style or shape. St Paul's remains a fantastically successful realisation of this fusion of neo-classical and Baroque principles.
The dome is a signature part of the Cathedral, 108m tall to the cross at the top and visible from many places around the City. It actually wasn't included in Wren's Warrant design, which instead had a lantern with a small dome, topped by a pagoda-like spire. The final dome is a three-layer construction, which balances the needs of distance-viewing (fulfilled by the large outer dome) with the internally pleasing design (smaller inner dome). The lantern is actually supported by structural cone between the two domes. Whispering gallery (a high climb, and a bit claustrophobic, but worth it) runs around the inner dome.
The interior of St Paul's is not as special as the outside, although still an impressive and beautiful sight. The Baroque influence is much more apparent here, and the dome is magnificent. Whether the interior visit is worth the entry charge of almost 15 GBP depends on your budget, really, but the dome climb and the dome galleries (whispering, stone and golden) are worth doing if your budget allows. Family ticket of 35 GBP effectively admits one child free (though under 6-year olds don't pay anyway), while gift-aiding gives a 12 months' pass.
Perhaps the best way to see the interior - without the Crypt and Galleries, though - is to attend a service at St Paul's. It's still very much a living church, with hourly prayer and daily services. The Cathedral closes for sight-seeing at 4.30pm Monday to Saturday and is devoted to worship all Sunday. Evensong is sung daily, usually at 5pm and there are also morning (Matins) and mid-day Eucharist services. Music is important here, and St Paul's Choir is known for its excellence, and even if you are not a Christian, it's a spiritual and aesthetic experience worth making time for.
St. Paul's Cathedral, one of London's most famous attractions, dominates the London skyline and is very hard to miss. However, its distinctive dome and famous bronze cross are just the tip of this spectacular Cathedral's beauty.
The first thing visitors will notice before entering the Cathedral is a statue of Queen Anne. The statue faces away from the Cathedral, this was deliberately done; in the early 1700's Queen Anne bore 17 haemophiliac babies, one of which died in early childhood. As the children were taken from her one by one, Anne became depressed and began to drink large amounts of alcohol and became morbidly obese. She also, most importantly, began to turn her back on religion, refusing to believe in such a cruel and awful god. Londoners made up a poem about Anne that reads "Poor Queen Anne, left in the lurch, she faces the gin-shop, with her back to the church". This is unfortunately the Queens major legacy, and is why this statue is so newsworthy.
The fact that it costs £12.50 for adults, £4.50 for children, £11.50 for senior's and £9.50 for students has proven to be slightly controversial with some visitors; however if people wish to access the Cathedral simply to worship and not for sightseeing then they are allowed to do so for free by informing an attendant of this.
As soon as we got into the Cathedral, we were given a small free tour by an attendant. The attendant gave us a brief glimpse into the history of the church. The 'new' St. Paul's Cathedral was created by Christopher Wren following the Great Fire of London, and has been used for Charles & Diana's wedding as well as the ceremony for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. The Cathedral was also host to the funerals of Winston Churchill and the Duke of Wellington amongst others.
One of the first things visitors will notice is the number of memorials. There are memorials to Florence Nightingale, Winston Churchill, Sir Alexander Fleming and two special and noticeable memorials to Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington, both of whom are buried in the Cathedral. The Cathedral has a large crypt that visitors are allowed to access and pay their respects to these great men of British history.
The Cathedral floor also includes the beautiful painting Light of the World; I am not personally massively into art but the Light of the World really spoke to me and is definitely worth visiting in itself. There is so much else to see around the Cathedral floor, and some of the views are absolutely stunning. It is also very interesting seeing the workings of an active Cathedral. Visitors are asked to remain still and silent and join in an hourly prayer through their visit; and whether you are religious or not it is simply courteous to respect their practices.
After visitors have seen the cathedral floor and visited the crypt, they are able to visit the 'Whispering Gallery'. This is 99 feet and 259 steps up, and is definitely worth the effort. The Whispering Gallery gets its name from a fantastic quirk of the gallery, that allows a whisper to be said on one side of the gallery and heard on the other side. Me and my girlfriend tried this and it really works!
My girlfriend is scared of heights, so she stayed at this level, however i was feeling daring so i decided to carry on going up! After 378 steps, visitors come across the Stone Gallery. The stone gallery is 173ft in the air and offers some beautiful views of London.
For those who are fit and healthy enough, and who do not have a large fear of heights, the Golden Gallery awaits! The Golden Gallery is 280 feet in the air and it takes 530 steps to get up to it! It is extremely tiring and it can be slightly daunting climbing up and up the spiralling staircase; however for those who do it you will be so glad that you did! The small outdoor gallery offers simply the most beautiful views of London that are available, its absolutely fantastic! You feel a real sense of achievement climbing all the way up, however for those with even a small fear of heights you may wish to consider whether its right for you, the gallery is small and can get very crowded, and its such a long way up in the air!
For those of you who have been left at the bottom by their loved ones, there is the chance to take part in a religious service. These happen regularly during the day.
To summarise, the Cathedral offers both religious and non-religious visitors a fantastic way to spend a few hours. From the memorials, paying your respects in the Crypt, the stunning paintings and Cathedral design, the services, the Whispering Gallery or a 280 feet high view of London - A day at St. Paul's is not to be missed!
St Pauls Catherdral was built in the late 1600s and designed by famous architect Sir Christopher Wren after its predecessor burnt down in the Great Fire of London. It is a fabulous building and is certainly worth a visit. It's surrounded by a number of tube stations although the nearest is St Pauls, so its quite easy to get to. It stands magnificent in the middle of a small square, surrounded by ordinary London buildings.
St Pauls is open to sightseers between 9.30 and 4.15 on Mondays to Saturdays and prices are:
Adults: £12.50 Children: £4.50
The big draw in visiting St Pauls is the Whispering Gallery, although studying the architechture of the ground floor is also well worth it. It's a fabulous building, quite breath taking and quite vast, it gives the appearance of having limitless space. When I fist visited several years ago reaching the Whispering Gallery involved twisting and turning through tiny spaces in the walls of the cathedral as well as climbing well over 800 steps. Recently however, they have created a new stairwell that makes access much easier. There is still a certain amount of narrow spaces but to begin with you climb a wide wooden spiral staircase. I couldn't tell you exactly how many stairs, but it doesn't seem as much as before.
The Whispering Gallery seems quite ordinary at first, and is also quite narrow, having room for only two people side by side, and that's a squeeze. The walls are a plain boring brown and the floor partly stone, partly wooden. What is amazing is the view. Looking down over the metal railing to the cathedral floor far below makes my legs wobble so I don't do that much, but its also worth looking up at the fantastically beautiful dome. 'How did they get up there to paint that?' was a question I heard many times.
There are benches that ring the circular gallery and to get the full effect of the Whispering Gallery you have to sit and put your ear against the wall. If someone on the opposite side whispers into the wall the sound travels around the dome and can be heard by anyone. It's magic when it works but it doesn't always. Ask one of the members of staff who watch the doorways in the gallery to whisper for you. They seem to have the knack of whispering just right.
After this you can chose to descend to the cathedral floor or go on up. There are two more galleries. The next climb takes you to the Stone Gallery on the outside of the building. It goes all the way around the outside of the dome, although it is blocked in one place so you have to travel back the way you came eventually, you can't go full circle. This offers fantastic views over London, but these have to be glimpsed between the stone pillars that guard the edge. This isn't nearly as scary as the Whispering Gallery even though its higher, because you can't actually see below you, only out.
For the brave, there is then the Golden Gallery. This is reached by a further climb up a metal staircase above the interior dome and inside the exterior dome. The staircase has nothing immediately either side of it and is made of metal that has holes in which allow you to see below you. For this reason I have never attempted it. Yes - I am a wuss! But if you make it to the top the Golden Gallery is completely enclosed with windows that offer more fantastic views over London. Be warned - if you start you have to finish. There is one way up and another way down, there is no turning around if you don't like it.
In the basement of St Pauls Cathedral there is a cafe and toilets. It's no more expensive than any other London tourist attraction cafe, and they do some lovely cakes to restore your energy reserves after all that exercise. It'll be the next day your legs cease up completely!
My parents arrived in London from Australia, and I've spent much of the week showing them around with attractions available with the London Pass. St Pauls is absoutely the best attraction in London. The London pass allowed us entry into St Pauls (equivalent of £10), and we purchased the Supertour pass. This tour gave us a behind the scenes look, and access to areas within the cathedral, which are not available to public access. Including the deans entrance, and The choir area, where the Choir boys sit. The detailing of the ceiling and the history of the building, has less to do with religion and more to do with the History of London and it's people. This absolutely must be added onto any tourist agenda. We were taken on a tour of the crypt and told all manner of interesting stories about the people buried there. Spend the £3 for the super tour. You won't regret it.
I know that when you mention a great atraction, St Pauls Cathedral, doesn't immediately spring to mind. My friends and I drecided one week to explore the attractions of London and i must say that this was one of my favourite attractions. The cathedral is open from 0800-1600 Monday-Saturday. It costs just £5 for an adult to get in (£4.50 if you are in a group of 10+) and £2.50 for children under 16 years of age(£2.25 if you are in a group of 10+). Guided tours cost £2.50 for adults and £1 for children under 16. These tours last 1 and a half hours and start at 1100, 1130, 1330 and 1400. You can get recorded cassette tours of the Cathedral and of the Crypt, these cassesette tours last approximately 45 minutes and are available from 08.30 to 15.00 in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. There are 7 parts to the cathedral: the crypt, the cathedral floor, the whispering gallery, the stone gallery, the dome, the golden gallery and the ball and lantern. The ball and lantern is no longer open to the public for health and safety reasons and it stands at 355.5feet (108.4m) high. The most interesting part to the cathedral i thought was the whispering gallery. If you whisper up against a wall on one side of the dome it can be heard on the other as if you are speaking normally, this is because of the way that the dome is built. Although i found this bit the most interesting the rest of the cathedral is equally interesting. There is a shop and a cafe in the crypt of the cathedral. This is deffinately a great attraction, especially if you have an hour an a half to spare at some time. Well worth the money
Well worth a visit - Advantages: Great views from top, History attached to building - Disadvantages: Lots of stairs
I had visited this beautiful place many years ago as a child and my dad and I had climbed up as far as the famous Whispering Gallery. We did not go right up to the top as mom was waiting for us at ground level – she’s not too good with climbs and heights! I had always wanted to return to complete the climb but had never got round to it until recently. I had made a list of all the things that I wanted to do during my lifetime and one of these was to climb to the very top of St Paul’s Cathedral. A friend of mine lives in London and I went to stay with him for a weekend so that I could get to a work seminar near Tower Bridge early on Monday morning. As a surprise he organised a trip to St Paul’s Cathedral and took me to the top, even though he’s not very keen on heights either! St Paul’s Cathedral is situated just north of the River Thames in Central London within yards of the St Paul’s tube station on the Central Line. The dome of this impressive building is visible for miles around. You get a lovely view of it from the river cruise, which runs from Greenwich to the Houses of Parliament. If you look to the north as you sail down the river St Paul’s Cathedral is suddenly framed through a sudden gap in the buildings. St Paul’s Cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and is constructed of Portland Stone. Building began in 1675 and it was completed in 1710, and it replaced the former Gothic cathedral from the 13th century, which had been destroyed by The Great Fire of London in 1666. The top of the cathedral is 365 feet from the ground and the dome, supported by 12 massive buttresses, is 112 feet in diameter. If you want to climb St Paul’s cathedral you must pay a small charge towards the upkeep. It costs more than 4 million pounds a year to keep St Paul’s open that’s about £7 per minute! The first place you reach after climbing 259stairs is
The Whispering Gallery. The acoustics are such that whispers from one side of the gallery can be heard clearly on the other side over 100 feet away! You can then continue climbing the stairs as they circle, inside the wall cavity, around the dome until you get to the first viewing platform. You can then climb flights of wooden stairs to reach the very top. These stairs are quite narrow but don’t worry about meeting someone going in the opposite direction as there is one set of stairs for people going up and another set for those coming down. The views over the City of London from the top of the cathedral are amazing. I am not keen on heights at all, if I feel the least bit unsafe, but up here I felt completely safe with the strong railings all the way round the edge of the platform, and I was able to enjoy the view without any fear. Back down in the main body of the cathedral one of the most powerful exhibits, for me anyway, is the painting called The Light of the World by William Hollum Hunt, depicting Christ knocking at a door. This is a symbol of Him knocking at the door of a heart and asking the question inscribed at the foot of the painting – “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with me.” Wherever you stand before the painting the eyes of Christ are looking straight at you. I once read a story about a guide showing people around the cathedral who stopped at the painting and, after describing it, she told the assembled gathering that the original of the painting had been sold for many millions of pounds. One of the visitors said ‘The original of that painting was sold for thirty pieces of silver’. For the non-Christians amongst you that is the amount the Judas Iscariot was paid for betraying Christ to the Roman soldiers. Back to the cathedral – there are many famous tombs in the
crypt including those of Wren, Turner, Nelson, Wellington and Reynolds. Wren’s epitaph is inscribed in Latin beneath the dome and translates as ‘Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you’. The south-west tower contains a huge bell known as Great Paul, which weighs 17 tons. Now that would give you a headache if it fell on you! The High Altar was consecrated in 1958 after bombing in 1940 damaged the original one. There is a chapel dedicated to 28,000 US servicemen who lost their lives during the war. St Dunstan’s Chapel is set aside for private prayer and there is always a priest or a sister available for spiritual counsel. As you would expect there is a shop in St Paul’s selling a good selection of souvenirs. In fact as I sit at my computer here I am facing a print of The Light of the World. There are also toilet facilities. St Paul’s is a working cathedral and there are four services each day to which anyone is warmly invited to attend. Even if you have no religious convictions I would recommend a visit to St Paul’s for the sheer awe-inspiring beauty of the place. If you are a Christian then it will be a truly humbling experience.
Prompted by seeing St Paul's Cathedral at the beginning of the film 'Lawrence of Arabia', where a memorial to the hero was unveiled in the crypt, I decided to pay a visit to one of the most familiar sites on London's skyline. I was impressed by the solemnity that the place still inspires, despite the volume of tourists that visit the cathedral each year, and was surprised by the number of famous British personalities, as well as military figures, commemorated in the building. HISTORY The first St Paul's Cathedral was built from wood on the present site back in 604 AD, only to be burnt down in 675, and rebuilt. In 962, the cathedral was burnt down again, this time by Viking invaders, and rebuilt in stone. Work on Old St Paul's Cathedral wasn't completed until 1310. When lightning struck the cathedral in 1561, Elizabeth I contributed to the repair work. In 1666, the cathedral was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and two years later, Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to produce a new design for the cathedral. Wren's first two designs for the cathedral were rejected, and a design isn't selected until July 1675. The cathedral took only 35 years to build, and was the first English cathedral to be completed during the lifetime of the original architect. During construction, the work took place behind big screens, partly so that Wren could charge people to see the building before its completion, to help pay for the construction work, and partly so that no-one could see the changes Wren made to the approved design. The construction of the cathedral was primarily funded by a tax on coal entering the Port of London, levied to finance the reconstruction of the City following the Great Fire. The cathedral was first used for a service in December 1697, before the construction work had been completed, at which thanks were given for peace, following a war between England and France.
In 1710, construction work was completed on the cathedral, having been supervised by Wren from beginning to end. Over the following three hundred years, the cathedral has been the site of numerous major events in British history. Funeral services were held in the cathedral for Admiral Nelson (1806), the Duke of Wellington (1852), and Winston Churchill (1965). Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee service was held in the cathedral in 1897, George V's Silver Jubilee service was held there in 1935, and Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee service was held there in 1977. However, the event that most British people will associate with the cathedral was the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. In the Second World War, the cathedral became an icon of hope for the people of London, withstanding the extensive bombing of the city during the Blitz. Photographs of the cathedral's dome surrounded by smoke and fire strengthened the nation's spirit. In 1944, the cathedral's bells, which had remained silent throughout the war, rang to celebrate the liberation of the city of Paris. In 1945, the cathedral held ten services to mark the end of the war in Europe, which were attended by 35,000 people. A fiftieth anniversary service marking the end of the Second World War was held in the cathedral in 1995. VISITING THE CATHEDRAL The cathedral is arranged in the shape of a cross, with the great dome over the intersection of the cross. The longer part of the cross runs from west to east, with the main entrance at the west end, and the High Altar in the Quire to the east. - The Cathedral Floor When you arrive at the cathedral at the main entrance, you pass the Chapel of All Souls and the Chapel of St Dunstan on the left hand side. The former chapel is dedicated to Field Marshal Lord Kitchener, and the dead of the First World War, and the latter, to St. Dunstan, one time Bishop of London and Archbishop of
Canterbury. After passing these two chapels, you reach the admission desk. St Paul's Cathedral has charged an admission fee since 1709, but fortunately, the price of admission is relatively low. At present, it costs just £5 for adults, and £2.50 for children (concessions and students are £4), which buys you admission to almost every part of the cathedral, including the dome and crypt. From the entrance, you walk east along the nave of the church. In the north aisle, on the left hand side of the nave, you can see Wellington's monument; an imposing monument to the "Iron Duke", bearing plaques around the base commemorating his victories. Heading east from there, along the north aisle, you pass a series of plaques commemorating the Deans of St. Paul's Cathedral since 1066, and turn left into the North Transept of the Cathedral. This is where you find the Cathedral's font, and the Middlesex Regiment Chapel, which bears William Hollam Hunt's painting 'The Light of the World', depicting the figure of Christ knocking on a door, as it opens from the inside. From the North Transept, heading east once more, leads into the Quire. The central part of the Quire, which holds the choir stalls, the High Altar, and the Bishop's Throne, is inaccessible to the public, however, the aisles on either side of the Quire are open to the public. At the west end of the Quire aisles are intricate and elaborate wrought-iron gates designed by French metalworker Jean Tijou, who produced most of the cathedral's metalwork. In the North Quire Aisle can be found Henry Moore's 'Mother and Child', alongside a small memorial to modern martyrs - Anglicans that have died for their faith around the world since 1850. The South Quire Aisle holds an effigy of John Donne, a one time Dean of the cathedral, and one of Britain's most famous poets. This statue was the only monument of Old St Paul's to surv
ive the Great Fire, and still bears scorch marks from the fire. The aisle also holds a display cabinet containing some photographs of the cathedral taken during the Blitz. At the extreme east end of the church in the Apse, behind the High Altar, can be found the American Memorial Chapel, honouring the American servicemen that died in the Second World War, which was dedicated in 1958. A roll of honour, positioned directly behind the High Altar, contains the names of more than 28,000 Americans that died while travelling to, or while stationed within, the UK. The South Transept holds the Nelson Memorial, which is a far more restrained affair than the Wellington Monument. The central dome area features an impressive marble floor, however, most eyes will point skyward, towards the intricate, and beautifully decorated dome. The cathedral is still a house of worship, and regular prayers are said on every hour from the pulpit in the centre of the cathedral. Visitors to the cathedral are asked, whatever their denomination, to pause in their tour during the prayers, and listen to the brief sermon. The Lord's Prayer is read at these prayers, and visitors are encouraged to join in its recitation. The sermon is relayed over the cathedral's public address system all over the building, though not to the upper reaches of the dome, nor to the crypt. I was surprised by the fact that the prayers were relevant to current events, rather than just a standard set text - when I visited the cathedral in early April 2001, prayers were offered for the farmers affected by the foot-and-mouth crisis, for example. To the east side of the central dome, are two sets of stairs leading down to the cathedral crypt, one on either side of the Quire. To the south-west of the dome is a set of spiral stairs leading up to the Whispering Gallery and Dome. - Crypt The crypt houses the bodies of Admiral Nelson and the Duke of Wellington, as
well as a great number of memorials to British soldiers killed in the line of duty. The east part of the crypt houses the graves, memorials and tombs, along with the cathedral treasury. The west part of the crypt has been redecorated to house the cathedral's toilets, shop, refectory and café. The café and refectory are relatively expensive - a cappuccino will set you back a hefty £1.80 in the café. The extreme east end of the crypt houses the Order of the British Empire Chapel, a solemn place, whose silence is only occasionally broken by the buzz of an overloud audio guide, or an overenthusiastic child. The OBE Chapel houses the majority of the cathedral's memorial plaques, commemorating the artists William Blake, Henry Moore, Edwin Landseer Lutyens, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Antony van Dyck, Joseph Mallard William Turner and Sir John Everett Millais; and scientists Alexander Fleming and Henry Wellcome. Composer Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan) is buried here In the south-east corner of the chapel, lies Sir Christopher Wren's rather nondescript tomb, accompanied by a small plaque bearing the epitaph "If you seek his monument look about you", and a stone bearing his architect's mark. Directly to the west of the entrance to the OBE Chapel is a room containing the tomb of the Duke of Wellington. Wellington's tomb itself is a simple granite casket, surrounded by hanging banners made for his funeral procession. Around the sides of the walls are plaques commemorating Field Marshals during the Second World War, including Viscount Slim and Viscount Montgomery of Alamein. To the west of Wellington's tomb, is Nelson's tomb, which lies at the centre of eight short corridors, the walls of which are covered with memorials to the British military servicemen who died in action. Nelson's tomb is a far showier affair than Wellington's, and is located directly beneath the cathedral's dome.
Nelson was killed in battle, but was prepared for this eventuality, having taken his coffin to war with him. The coffin had been carved from the mast of a French ship sunk during one of his earlier victories. At one side of the coffin are presented a call to national prayer that Nelson wrote while in view of the enemy, before the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Around Nelson's tomb are arranged numerous memorials, dedicated to the British killed in the Gulf War, at Gallipoli, and in the Falklands Campaign, for example. Plaques are also dedicated to individuals, such as Florence Nightingale and T. E. Lawrence, whose simple bronze bust is positioned high on the wall at the north-west corridor, facing Nelson's tomb. Another bust is dedicated to the memory of George Washington, America's first President. The Treasury is located to the north of Nelson's tomb, and holds the cathedral's collection of silverware, and the copes worn by the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral at various important events. Many of the treasures on display in the treasury are not owned by St Paul's itself, but by other London churches, as many of St Paul's Cathedral's own treasures have been lost over the years. The Diamond Jubilee cope worn at Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee service, and the garish Silver Jubilee cope worn at the service for Queen Elizabeth II (which bears representations of the spires of 73 of London's churches) are both on display. - The Dome & Whispering Gallery Heading up the low spiral steps from the cathedral floor up to the Whispering Gallery is relatively unchallenging, and only takes a few minutes. The Whispering Gallery is 99 feet above the church floor, and getting there involves going up 259 steps. The gallery is well below the cathedral's dome, and is best known for its peculiar acoustic properties - if you whisper against the wall on one side of the gallery, you
r whisper can be heard on the other side. This works remarkably well, though obviously is better if there are fewer people in the gallery. If there are a good number of people in the gallery, the continual sussurus is quite unsettling, particularly if, as when I was there, you can pick out a specific voice saying "We know all about you".... At least, I think it was a real voice, and not just in my head... If you want to continue up the dome, it?s a further 119 steps to the Stone Gallery, level with the lowest part of the dome. These steps are a good deal steeper than those between the Whispering Gallery and the Church Floor, but fortunately there are benches to rest on every twenty-or-so steps if you're as unfit as I am. The Stone Gallery is external, and the south side of it is open to the public on the way up the dome, allowing you excellent views out over the Thames and the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern. From the South Gallery, you can either elect to head back down to the Whispering Gallery (wimp!) or head up to the Golden Gallery. The Golden Gallery is a further 152 steps up, and is 280 feet above the church floor. To get there, you have to walk up an internal staircase, within the outer dome, but inside the inner dome... so you've got a dome surface on either side of you.... Still, the slope of the inner dome surface gives you an idea of how close to the top you are. When you reach the top, you can look through a small square window down towards the centre of the cathedral floor, far below you, before heading out onto the Golden Gallery. You can walk all the way around the spire in the Golden Gallery, and you get spectacular views out over London on a good day. The Gallery is about two-thirds of the height of the London Eye, but obviously requires a lot more effort to get to! Walking back down is much less challenging than walking up, obviously, but the stairs are often a lot narrower, so you'd
be well advised to watch your step! STAFF I found the staff of St Paul's Cathedral extremely friendly and helpful, and easily the best informed and most enthusiastic employees that I've met at a tourist attraction in London. I asked one guide where I might find the memorial to Lawrence of Arabia, and he not only showed me where it was on the map, but described its location relative to other memorials in that area of the crypt. The guide in the Golden Gallery was also very friendly, and keen to point out major tourist attractions visible from the gallery. CONCLUSIONS St Paul's Cathedral is deservedly one of London's most popular tourist attractions. The admission price is not excessive, and there's plenty to see in the cathedral. Obviously, the building is a house of worship, and so visitors should bear this in mind, and show appropriate respect. Anyone interested in British military history will be fascinated by the veterans of major campaigns interred or commemorated in the cathedral. Even if you have no interest in history, there's plenty to see, in the beautiful decoration of the cathedral's interior, and the views from the various galleries around the dome.