Tag Archives: St Paul’s Cathedral

Praise be (St Paul’s)

1-the-west-front-of-st-pauls

2-the-south-side-of-st-pauls-from-the-shard

3-the-north-east-corner-of-st-pauls

On this day in 1697 was held the first service in the present  St Paul’s Cathedral, at the time still in the process of being built by Sir Christopher Wren, after its immediate predecessor had been burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666 (*).

There have been five  cathedrals on the site of the present St Paul’s.

The first was built  in 604, shortly  after the first Christian mission under St Augustine landed in Kent, by the King of Kent, Ethelburg, for the Bishop of London, Mellitus, and destroyed by fire in 675.

The   second, “The Church of Paulesbyri”, was built between 675-85  by the Bishop, Erkenwald,  and destroyed by the Vikings in 961.

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

The  fourth, “old St Paul’s”, was built in the Norman,  or Romanesque, style in the years after  1087 by the  Bishop, Maurice and his successors; rebuilt and extended in the Gothic style in 1221-1240,  and in the “New Work” of 1269-1332; renovated in the Renaissance  style by Inigo Jones in 1633-1641, and again by Wren, after the Civil War, during which it had been occupied by  Parliamentary troops and horses, in 1660; and burnt down in  the Great Fire of 1666.  There is a model of it  in the Museum of London.  It was clearly an impressive building, measuring some 600’ in length, and over 400’, or, according to some estimates, over 500’, in height, inclusive of the spire (which  was substantially destroyed by a lightning strike in 1561, and subsequently demolished).  As John Denham wrote in 1624:  “That sacred pile, so vast, so high|That whether ‘tis a part of earth or sky|Uncertain seems, and may be thought a proud|Aspiring mountain or descending cloud … ”.

The fifth, present cathedral  was built in the Baroque style by Wren between 1675-1711.  It famously survived the Blitz essentially intact: some would say due to divine intervention; others,  due to the heroism of the St Paul’s Watch, who extinguished around 30 fires caused by incendiary bombs on the night of Sunday 29th December, 1940, alone.  There are a great many important memorials in the interior of the cathedral.  The one in the south quire aisle to  the metaphysical poet John Donne (1572-1631) survived the Great Fire, although if you look carefully, you can still see scorch-marks around  its base!  The ones in the crypt to, among others, Nicholas Bacon (d. 1579), father of Francis, and Thomas Heneage (d. 1594), stepfather of Shakespeare’s patron Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, also survived the fire, although again not without a certain amount of charring!

St Paul’s is visited, although not entered, on our “London Wall”, “Tower to Temple”, “Historic Smithfield, Clerkenwell and Holborn” and “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey” standard walks, and on our “Saxon and Viking  London”, “Medieval London”, “Medieval City Highlights”, “Tudor and Stuart London”, “Tudor and Stuart City Highlights”, “Lost City Highlights”, “Great Fire of London” and “Lost Wren Churches” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Our Guided Walks” section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com).

(*) The service was one of thanksgiving for the end of the Nine Years War, also known as the War of the Grand Alliance or the War of the League of Augsburg, between France on the one side, and a coalition of European countries, including Britain, on the other.

“Old” St Paul’s receives a new spire (1462)

Edward VI's coronation procession in 1547, with old St Paul's in the background - CopyEdward VI’s coronation procession, with “old” St Paul’s in the background

On this day in 1462, “old” St Paul’s Cathedral (*) received a new spire, its old one having been destroyed by a fire in 1444 (see also February 1st posting).  The new spire was in turn destroyed by a fire following a lightning strike almost exactly 100 years later, in 1561 (see also June 4th posting).

“Old” St Paul’s was built in the Norman, or Romanesque, to Early Gothic styles in the years after  1087 by the  Bishop, Maurice and his successors; rebuilt and extended in the Gothic style in 1221-1240,  and in the “New Work” of 1269-1332; renovated in the Renaissance  style by Inigo Jones in 1633-1641, and again by Wren, after the Civil War, during which it had been occupied by  Parliamentary troops and horses, in 1660; and burnt down in  the Great Fire of 1666.  There is a model of Old St Paul’s in the Museum of London.  It was clearly an impressive building, measuring some 600’ in length, and rising to a height of between 460-520’ (estimates vary),  inclusive of the spire.  As John Denham wrote in 1624:   “That sacred pile, so vast, so high/That whether ‘tis a part of earth or sky/Uncertain seems, and may be thought a proud/Aspiring mountain or descending cloud … ”.

St Paul’s Cathedral is visited, although not entered, on our  “London Wall”, “Tower to Temple”, “Historic Smithfield, Clerkenwell and Holborn” and “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey” standard walks, and on our “Dark Age London”, “Medieval London”, “Medieval City Highlights”, “Tudor and Stuart London”, “Tudor and Stuart City Highlights”, “Lost City Highlights”, “Great Fire of London” and “Lost Wren Churches” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Our Guided Walks” section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

(*) The name is something of a misnomer, as by the time it was built, there had already been three cathedrals on the site, built in 604, 675 and 962 (see also December 2nd posting).

 

St Mellitus’s Day

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  (see  also June 10th, 2014 posting, entitiled “Anglo-Saxon Londoners Reject Christianity”).  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”.

Saxon St Paul’s is discussed  on various of our walks, including the “Dark Age (Saxon and Viking) London” themed special.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Our Guided Walks” section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

Lightning strikes (St Paul’s)

On this day in 1444, the spire of Old St Paul’s was destroyed by lightning.  A replacement spire was completed in 1462, and itself destroyed by lightning in 1561 (see also July 2nd posting ).

There have been five  cathedrals on the site of the present St Paul’s (see also  November 27th and December 2nd postings).

The first was built  in 604, shortly  after the first Christian mission under St Augustine landed in Kent, by the King of Kent, Ethelburg, for the Bishop of London, Mellitus, and destroyed by fire in 675.

The   second, the Church of Paulesbyri, was built between 675-85  by the Bishop, Erkenwald,  and destroyed by the Vikings in 962.

The  third was built in 962, and destroyed by fire in 1087.

The  fourth, Old St Paul’s, was built in the Norman, or Romanesque, to Early Gothic styles in the years after  1087 by the  Bishop, Maurice and his successors; rebuilt and extended in the Gothic style in 1221-1240,  and in the “New Work” of 1269-1332; renovated in the Renaissance  style by Inigo Jones in 1633-1641, and again by Wren, after the Civil War, during which it had been occupied by  Parliamentary troops and horses, in 1660; and burnt down in  the Great Fire of 1666.  There is a model of Old St Paul’s in the Museum of London.  It was clearly an impressive building, measuring some 600’ in length, and rising to a height of between 460-520’ (estimates vary),  inclusive of the spire.  As John Denham wrote in 1624:   “That sacred pile, so vast, so high/That whether ‘tis a part of earth or sky/Uncertain seems, and may be thought a proud/Aspiring mountain or descending cloud … ”.

The fifth, present cathedral  was built in the Baroque style by Wren between 1675-1711, after its immediate predecessor was burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666.  It famously survived the bombing of the Blitz of the Second World War essentially intact: some would say due to divine intervention; others,  due to the heroism of the St Paul’s Watch, who extinguished around 30 fires caused by incendiary bombs on the night of Sunday 29th December 1940 alone.

There are a great many important memorials in the interior of the cathedral.  The one in the south quire aisle to  the metaphysical poet John Donne (1572-1631) survived the Great Fire of 1666, although if you look carefully, you can still see scorch-marks around  its base!  The ones in the crypt to, among others, Nicholas Bacon (d. 1579), father of Francis, and Thomas Heneage (d. 1594), stepfather of Shakespeare’s patron Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, also survived the fire, although again not without a certain amount of charring!

St Paul’s is visited, although not entered, on our “London Wall”, “Tower to Temple”, “Historic Smithfield, Clerkenwell and Holborn”, and “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey” standard walks.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Our Guided Walks” section.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

The Gunpowder Sermon (John Donne, 1622)

On this day in 1622, on the seventeenth anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, the Dean of St Paul’s, John Donne, felt compelled to a sermon reassuring the congregation as to the ongoing commitment to the Protestant cause of the King, who was himself widely suspected of harbouring Catholic sympathies.   In his sermon, Donne described the King as “in his heart, as farre from submitting us to that Idolatry, and Superstition, which did heretofore oppresse us, as his immediate Predecessor [Elizabeth I], whose memory  is justly precious to you, was”.  

There is a virtual reconstruction of the event at www.vpcp.chass.ncsu.edu.  It shows the sermon being given outside the cathedral, at (St) Paul’s Cross, whereas the original was actually given indoors on account  of inclement weather (“ a vicious squall of November rain”).

3D recreation of the site of Donne's sermon

3D recreation of Paul’s Cross preaching station outside St Paul’s cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is visited, although not entered, on our  “London Wall”, “Tower to Temple”, “Historic Smithfield, Clerkenwell and Holborn” and “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey”standard walks, and on our “Lost City highlights” and “Lost Wren churches” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Guided Walks” section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

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

St Paul’s Cathedral (the new one built on the site of the old one after the Great Fire of 1666) is visited, although not entered, on our  “London Wall”, “Tower to Temple”, “Historic Smithfield, Clerkenwell and Holborn” and “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey” standard walks, and on our “Medieval London”, “Medieval City Highlights”, “Tudor and Stuart London”, “Tudor and Stuart City Highlights”, “Lost City Highlights”, “Great Fire of London” and “Lost Wren Churches” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Guided Walks” section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

Lightning strikes (St Paul’s)

Earlier St Paul spire croppedFebruary 1st –  On this day in 1444, the spire of Old St Paul’s was destroyed by lightning.

A replacement spire was completed in 1462, and itself destroyed by lightning in 1561 (see July 2nd posting )

Left panel of Society of Antiquaries' Diptych (1616), showing Old St Paul's without spire

Left panel of Society of Antiquaries’ Diptych (1616), showing Old St Paul’s without spire

Right panel of Society of Antiquaries' Diptych, showing vision of Old St Paul's with spire

Right panel of Society of Antiquaries’ Diptych, showing vision of Old St Paul’s with spire

There have been five cathedrals on the site of the present St Paul’s (see also  November 27th and December 2nd postings).

The first was built  in 604, shortly  after the first Christian mission under St Augustine landed in Kent, by the King of Kent, Ethelburg, for the Bishop of London, Mellitus, and destroyed by fire in 675.

The second, the Church of Paulesbyri, was built between 675-85  by the Bishop, Erkenwald,  and destroyed by the Vikings in 962.

The  third was built in 962, and destroyed by fire in 1087.

The  fourth, Old St Paul’s, was built in the Norman, or Romanesque, to Early Gothic styles in the years after 1087 by the Bishop, Maurice and his successors; rebuilt and extended in the Gothic style in 1221-1240,  and in the “New Work” of 1269-1332; renovated in the Renaissance  style by Inigo Jones in 1633-1641, and again by Wren, after the Civil War, during which it had been occupied by  Parliamentary troops and horses, in 1660; and burnt down in  the Great Fire of 1666.

There is a model of Old St Paul’s in the Museum of London.  It was clearly an impressive building, measuring some 600’ in length, and rising to a height of between 460-520’ (estimates vary),  inclusive of the spire.

Model of Old St Paul's in the Museum of London

Model of Old St Paul’s in the Museum of London

As John Denham wrote in 1624:

“That sacred pile, so vast, so high/That whether ‘tis a part of earth or sky/Uncertain seems, and may be thought a proud/Aspiring mountain or descending cloud … ”.

The fifth, present cathedral  was built in the High Renaissance or Baroque style by Wren between 1675-1711, after its immediate predecessor was burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666.  It famously survived the bombing of the Blitz of the Second World War essentially intact: some would say due to divine intervention; others,  due to the heroism of the St Paul’s Watch, who extinguished around 30 fires caused by incendiary bombs on the night of Sunday 29th December 1940 alone.

Iconic image of St Paul's in the blitz

Iconic image of St Paul’s in the blitz

There are a great many important memorials in the interior of the cathedral.  The one in the south quire aisle to  the metaphysical poet John Donne (1572-1631) survived the Great Fire of 1666, although if you look carefully, you can still see scorch-marks around  its base!  The ones in the crypt to, among others, Nicholas Bacon (d. 1579), father of Francis, and Thomas Heneage (d. 1594), stepfather of Shakespeare’s patron Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, also survived the fire, although again not without a certain amount of charring!

St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral, seen from the Shard

St Paul’s is visited, although not entered, on our “London Wall”, “Tower to Temple”, “Historic Smithfield, Clerkenwell and Holborn”, and “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey” standard walks.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Guided Walks” section.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).