St Paul's Cathedral

Cathedral History

History of St Paul's Cathedral

For more than one thousand four hundred years, a cathedral dedicated to St Paul has stood at the highest point in the City. Frequently at the centre of national events, traditions have been observed here and radical new ideas have found expression under the iconic dome. In many cases these events have left some physical record as well as echoes in the intangible memory of the building.

The present Cathedral, the masterpiece of Britain's most famous architect Sir Christopher Wren, is at least the fourth to have stood on the site. It was built between 1675 and 1710, after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and services began in 1697.

This was the first cathedral to be built after the English Reformation in the sixteenth-century, when Henry VIII removed the Church of England from the jurisdiction of the Pope and the Crown took control of the life of the church. The three hundred year old building is therefore a relative newcomer to a site which has witnessed Christian Worship for over one thousand four hundred years. This brief history looks at just a few of the individuals and events which have shaped the history of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Foundation, Loss and Reconstruction
Medieval Splendour

Reformation to Conflagration
A New Cathedral for London

Perilous Painting and Memorialising the Greats
St Paul's in the Age of Industry

1906 to present
Strengthening the Dome and Defending the Cathedral
Royal Events and Social Reformers

Detail of Panorama of London, by Claes Jansz Visscher, 1616, Museum of London   Enlarge

St Paul's Cathedral, by Canaletto, c.1754, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection   Enlarge