Tag Archives: St Paul’s Cathedral

The Lord Mayor’s Show

The Lord Mayor's Show in 1836, by David Roberts

Today is the day of the annual Lord Mayor (of the City of London)’s Show …

Richard I appointed the  first (Lord) Mayor of London, Henry Fitz-Ailwyn de Londonestone, in effect to run the City,  in 1189; and John granted the City the right to elect its own Mayor in 1215 (the “Mayoral Charter” is now in the Guildhall Heritage Gallery).  The prestige of the position was such that the by-then Mayor, William Hardel(l),  was invited by John to be  a witness to the sealing of, and an Enforcer or Surety of, the Magna Carta, later in 1215.  Magna Carta granted the City of London “all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water”.  In exchange, the Crown required that, each year, the newly elected  Lord Mayor present himself or herself at court to ceremonially “show” his or her allegiance.  This  event eventually became the Lord Mayor’s Show we know today.  Interestingly, the  associated parade of the mayor and his or her entourage, from the City to  Westminster, used to take place  on the Feast of St Simon and St Jude at the end of October, whereas now it takes place on the second Saturday in November.  The parade also used to take place on the water, whereas now it takes place  on land – although the mobile stages are referred to as “floats”.  It travels, accompanied by much pomp, from the Lord Mayor’s official residence, Mansion House,  past St Paul’s Cathedral, to the Royal Courts of Justice, where the Cities of London and Westminster meet.

St Mellitus’s Day

1 - Iconic image of Mellitus, St Paul's Cathedral, London

Today is the feast day of St Mellitus, who died on this day in 624.

Mellitus was a member of the Gregorian mission sent to England to convert the then-pagan Anglo-Saxons to Christianity at the turn of the sixth and seventh centuries (he was the recipient of the letter from Pope Gregory I known as the epistola ad Mellitum).  He became  the first Bishop of London in 604, and, incidentally,   the third Archbishop of Canterbury in 619.  The first St Paul’s Cathedral was built  during his Bishopric of London  in 604, and destroyed by fire in 675 (*).  As the Venerable Bede put it, in his “Ecclesiastical History of the English People”:

“In the Year of our Lord 604, Augustine, Archbishop of Britain, ordained … Mellitus to preach to the province of the East Saxons … .  … [W]hen this province … received the word of truth, by the preaching of Mellitus, King Ethelbert built the church of St Paul the Apostle, in the city of London, where he and his successors should have their episcopal see … ”.

Interestingly, Mellitus was sent into exile from London shortly after the construction of the cathedral, in 616, when the then-Christian King Sebert died, and the City and kingdom temporarily reverted to paganism.  Again as Bede put it:

“In the year of our Lord 616 … the death of Sabert [Sebert], king of the East Saxons … left three sons, still pagans, to inherit his … crown.  They immediately began openly to give themselves up to idolatry, … and … granted free licence to their subjects to serve idols.  And when they saw the bishop [Mellitus] … celebrating Mass … , filled, as they were, with folly and ignorance, they said unto him … ‘We will not enter into that font, because we … do not stand in need of it, and yet we will be refreshed by that bread’.  And being … earnestly admonished by him, that this could by no means be done, nor would any one be admitted to partake of the sacred Oblation without the holy cleansing, …  they said, filled with rage, ‘If you will not comply with us in so small a matter as that which we require, you shall not stay in our province’.  And they drove him out … and his company … from their kingdom [Essex].  [And] King Eadbald  … was not able to restore the bishop to his church against the will and consent of the pagans”.

(*) The   second St Paul’s, “The Church of Paulesbyri”, was built during the  Bishopric of  Erkenwald, between 675-85,  and destroyed by the Vikings in 961.

The  third was built in 961, and destroyed by fire in 1087.

The murder  of  Elfeah, Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury (1012)

alphege

On this day in 1012, Elfeah, the Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered by Vikings, who had held him hostage for some time and not received the ransom that they had demanded for his release. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, “they overwhelmed him with bones of horns of oxen; and one of them smote him with an axe-iron on the head; so that he sunk downwards with the blow; and his holy blood fell on the earth, whilst his sacred soul was sent to the realm of God”.  His last words were “the gold I give you is the Word of God”.  Elfeah’s body was laid to rest in St Paul’s Cathedral in London, and later, in 1023, moved by the then-Viking King, Cnut, to Canterbury Cathedral.  He was canonised in 1078

St Alfege Greenwich.jpg

A church dedicated to him – St Alfege – stands on the spot where he was killed in Greenwich.

St Alphage London Wall.JPG

Another church dedicated to him – St Alphage – stands on London Wall.

 

Old St Paul’s

July 2nd – On this day in 1462, “old” St Paul’s cathedral received a new spire.
Model in the Museum of London, showing the new spire.
Almost exactly 100 years later, the spire was destroyed by a fire after being struck by lightning.
Detail from Visscher Panorama, 1616

A selection of Wren Churches, as viewed from the Shard. 

Blitz Requiem

26th September 2013 – I’ve just got back from the premiere of David Goode’s Blitz Requiem, performed by the  Bach Choir and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under David Hill, in St Paul’s (it’s interior lit by a thousand candles).
A moving evocation of those darkest of days, when the building itself was a beacon of hope.

Open House London

This is Open House London weekend (21st-22nd September 2013), meaning that many buildings or parts of buildings of architectural or historical merit that aren’t ordinarily  open to the public are, and for free.

Today I went on tours  of the triforium gallery in St Paul’s cathedral, and of the church of St Helen Bishopsgate.

I had to queue up for an hour-and-a-half to book a place on the tour of the triforium gallery in St Paul’s, and then wait another three hours until it started.

Some salvaged  bits of old St Paul’s

But it  was totally worth it, and utterly magnificent.

The Geometric Staircase (this is as close to the edge as I could go with my acrophobia)

The Wren Library  there is now officially  one of my very favourite places of all.  The atmosphere inside is as rich, dark and deep as a cup of coffee from the “Giddy Up” stall in Guildhall Yard – the best anywhere, by the way!

The Wren Library

Link to Open House London :  http://www.londonopenhouse.org/