St Pauls Cathedral
This is a photo of St Pauls that I treasure because it was such a privilege to be able to go up to this triforium, a gallery that runs around the inside of the cathedral to take it, and a privilege to be allowed to take a picture. At the time, photography was not allowed.
Before offering triforium tours to the public the cathedral invited some Blue Badge Tourist Guides to see it. We walked inside the roof of the building where there is an amazing library (closed now for a conservation project). It was an unforgettable experience. We Blue Badges have always had a really good relationship with St Pauls. Our guests and ourselves are made to feel very welcome.
The cathedral is huge but you don’t feel overwhelmed. The architect Sir Christopher Wren, thought that the classical proportions of his building would give a feeling of harmony and he was right. The cantilevered Geometric Staircase for instance curves sublimely around the south west tower. The crypt is where our great artists such as Turner and Millais are buried. It also houses the tombs of Nelson and Wellington who fought Napoleon Bonaparte.
St Paul is patron saint of London and there has been a cathedral dedicated to him on this site since 604 AD. Outside the front of today’s building is a statue of Queen Anne. After the Great Fire of London which destroyed the previous one it took 35 years to build the new cathedral. It opened for services during her reign. This is a C19th replica of the original by Francis Bird which had become very weatherworn.
The cathedral is once again open to tourists. Taking photos inside is now permitted but to be honest, like most things, a photo doesn’t capture the experience of being there.
You have to book tickets in advance https://www.stpauls.co.uk/. The website has lots of information about the art and history as well as the practicalities to help prepare your visit. The Triforium tours are not running yet but you can climb to the Stone Gallery which runs around the outside of the dome. There are great views of London and you can imagine yourself back in history because this was the way people could get an aerial view of London before the invention of skyscrapers and aeroplanes. It must have seemed incredible to be so high up then, it is still exhilarating in 2020. A guided tour with a Blue Badge Tourist Guide would be a separate booking and could include another site, for example a walking tour of the City of London.
STOP PRESS STOP PRESS STOP PRESS I am hosting a live Virtual Tour called A Walk Around the Gherkin. It is my take on some of the buildings, temporary sculptures and the history of the area. Details and booking https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/116099269039