St. Paul's Cathedral from past to present

Seminar Paper, 2004

22 Pages, Grade: 2,7


Table of Contents

Table of Pictures

1 Introduction

2 The History of St. Paul’s Cathedral
2.1 General Timeline of Events
2.2 First St. Paul’s Cathedral
2.3 Second St. Paul’s Cathedral
2.4 Third and Fourth St. Paul’s Cathedral
2.4.1 The Precincts of Old St. Paul’s Cathedral
2.4.2 Restoration Work
2.4.3 The Great Fire
2.5 Fifth St. Paul’s Cathedral
2.5.1 Sir Christopher Wren
2.5.2 New St. Paul’s Cathedral
2.5.3 Bombings in the Second World War

3 Today’s St. Paul’s Cathedral


Table of Pictures

Picture 1: The fourth St. Paul’s Cathedral

Picture 2: Old St. Paul’s Cathedral without the spire

Picture 3: Paul’s Cross

Picture 4: The great Fire of London 1666

Picture 5: The burning of St. Paul’s by Weneceslaus Hollar

Picture 6: Sir Christopher Wren

Picture 7: Diagram which shows Wrens method to support St. Paul’s Dome

Picture 8: Interior of St. Paul’s Cathedral

Picture 9: Plan of St. Paul’s Cathedral

Picture 10: The bombed devastation north of St. Paul’s

Picture 11: St. Paul’s Cathedral in the Blitz 1940

1 Introduction

When most people think of St. Paul's Cathedral in London the image of Christopher Wren's magnificent classical church rises in their minds, but there was a cathedral dedicated to St. Paul long before the construction of Wren’s cathedral.

This paper is going to show how St. Paul’s Cathedral became what it is today and what a church can be apart from a place for sermons.

Cathedrals have always played more than one role in the communities they serve. Their central purpose is to bring people closer to God, but over the centuries they have served as a focal point for trade, as fortresses and sanctuaries in times of war, and as vast status symbols - reflections of wealth and power of the region in which they stand. These functions take on an additional significance for St Paul’s, the cathedral of the capital city and also of the nation.

Today’s Church belongs to the people of the nation. For example, every citizen can be married or have a funeral service in his or her parish church; priests can marry couples without the presence of a civil official; and the General Synod, the Church of England’s governing body, is the only organisation outside Parliament that has the power to legislate.

Cathedrals are perhaps the ultimate reflection of this inclusiveness. Unlike parish churches, which exist to minister to the people of the local area in which they stand, they are a route to God for the larger community - a place of celebration and mourning where feelings can be shared and the sheer scale and beauty of the architecture, services and music allows visitors to experience the serenity and spirituality that are an essential counterpoint to the bustle of everyday life.[1]

2 The History of St. Paul’s Cathedral

2.1 General Timeline of Events

Today’s St. Paul’s Cathedral is the fifth cathedral build on a site, where in Roman times stood a Roman Temple dedicated to Diana[3]. Several Cathedrals have been built and destroyed in this place during the years.[2]

The St. Paul's Cathedral has had an eventful history. To present a short overview, this chapter consists of a timeline showing the most important events connected with St. Paul’s Cathedral from its very beginning up to present times.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

2.2 First St. Paul’s Cathedral

There have been churches and religious monuments on the site of St Paul’s since Roman times. Sir Christopher Wren recorded that, when excavations for his building began:

’We discovered Quantities of Urns, broken Vessels and Potteryware...Graves of several Ages and Fashions in Strata, or Layers of Earth, one above another... manifestly shew’d a great Antiquity from the British and Roman Times.’[4]

In 604, the first Christian cathedral dedicated to St Paul was built on the site, for Mellitus, Bishop of the East Saxons by St. Ethelbert, King of Kent. Some early papers show, that this church had been placed within the walls of the medieval city.[5]

The first St. Paul’s had been destroyed by fire.

2.3 Second St. Paul’s Cathedral

The Cathedral was rebuilt ten years later, between 675 and 685, by Eorconweald, the 4th Bishop of London. This time the Cathedral was build in stone to prevent it from easily burning down. But as fire was not the only danger buildings had to face in those dark centuries of Anglo-Saxon England - the Vikings destroyed the second St. Paul's in 962.[6]

2.4 Third and Fourth St. Paul’s Cathedral

The third St. Paul’s Cathedral was again destroyed by a fire in 1087.

Following the destruction of the third St. Paul’s, the church had to be rebuilt again.

The fourth cathedral stood in the middle of a complex of buildings including a separate parish church, bishop’s place, school and a campanile bell tower.[7]

The construction of the Norman cathedral began immediately after the fire under Maurice, Bishop of London. The Norman French who had recently conquered Britain, were determined to create the longest Christian church in the world[8]. As the new Cathedral was build of Caen stone which was brought by sea and up the Thames, the so called “Old St. Paul’s” became one of the largest buildings in England, considerably larger and higher than the buildings of today’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. The building was toped with the tallest spire that has ever been build, it was said that it was almost 500 feet high[9].

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Picture 1: The fourth St. Paul’s Cathedral[10]

At the west end of the building there were two great bell towers which were so big, that they were also used as prisons. At the east end there was the rose window, which was so glorious that it was roughly ever imitated by embroiders.[11]



[2] According to:

[3] The London Encyclopaedia. Edited by Weinreb, Ben and Hibbert, Christopher. London and Basingstoke. Macmillan London Limited. 1983p. 756


[5] Tames, Richard. City Of London Past. London. Historical Publications. 1995.p.13


[7] Richard Tames, p.30


[9] The London Encyclopaedia, p756

[10] Richard Tames, p.30

[11] Richard Tames, p.30

Excerpt out of 22 pages


St. Paul's Cathedral from past to present
University of Paderborn  (Institut für Anglistik)
London the urban experience
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This paper deals with the past of the St. Paul's Cathedral. It begins at the first building at this place where it is located now,describes the destruction by fire and the Vikings and its rebuilding. It describes the architcture as well as the severalways in which the church was used during the ages and how it is used today.
Paul, Cathedral, London
Quote paper
Silke Lübbert (Author), 2004, St. Paul's Cathedral from past to present, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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