St Paul's Cathedral

Adopt a Book or Tile

Adopt a Book

For three hundred years, the low light levels and stable environmental conditions of the Wren library chamber have helped to preserve the leather, vellum, paper and stitching from which the library books are constructed. Today, owing simply to their great age, many of the books have deteriorated and require conservation work to maintain their physical integrity.

Many of the volumes stored and displayed on the shelves date from the restocking of the cathedral library following the destruction wrought by the Great Fire in 1666. The Bibles, theological works, sermons and ecclesiastical history form an immense resource for the cathedral staff, members of the public, academics and the clergy. The books also complete the space – the library is a remarkable eighteenth century interior, largely unaltered from the day of completion, in which the books play a central role.

In a recent conservation survey surface dirt and a lack of secondary housing were identified as particular problems. The dirt, if left standing on the top edge of the published works, encroaches in to the pages and stains. The lack of secondary housing means that the blocks of pages within the books are liable to drop under their own weight, breaking their stitching and becoming detached from the book's spine, which renders them unusable.

The cathedral wishes to embark on a first phase cleaning and re-packing programme to stabilise and protect the collection. Each book will receive a surface clean and those in danger of losing their text block will receive book shoes which support the pages from below without spoiling the outer appearance of the individual books and the library as a whole.

The majority of the collection of 13,500 volumes needs this treatment. The realisation of the project requires time, expertise and dedicated funds. Addressing the cleaning and re-housing of the books also offers the opportunity to identify the individual volumes which are in the most precarious condition and a later phase of conservation work will conserve items recorded as either poor or unusable.

The treatment of the library books will ensure their preservation for future generations. The volumes will continue to act as a repository of knowledge for library users as well as forming an important aspect of an historic interior.

You can adopt a book for as little as £5 a week or £240 a year. To find out more, us or call us on 020 7246 8370.

Adopt a Tile

The Church Floor at St Paul's is finished in approximately 18,000 marble tiles covering around 60,000 square feet.

There are a variety of marbles used across the Church Floor, but the majority are Belgian Black and Bianco Carrara, which make up the well-known chequer-board effect.

A large number of the tiles are in need of a major works with many of them loose, cracked or broken. The Cathedral Works Department repairs as many as it can given its budget and time constraints, but has no money specifically allocated for this task. In order to fully revive the Church Floor a new Church Floor tile plan has been completed and a full condition survey of every tile is under way, revealing the scope and scale of the problem.

Outside funding would allow us to specifically target the worst areas, as well as supplying some much needed new marble. We currently only have a few new white tiles and no black tiles to replace any that are broken or damaged. Where possible we will try and rescue a tile, repair it and make it available for re-use, but in many cases this is not possible.

The works are made more expensive by the need to carry them out after evensong when the Cathedral is closed, because they are generally too noisy and dusty to carry out during the day.

The new cathedral tile plan will allow us to constantly update our progress in maintenance and repairs and should allow donors to pick the areas they would like to help improve, whether replacing one tile or an entire panel.

You can adopt a tile for as little as £120 per year. To find out more, us or call us on 020 7246 8370.

Wren's Library   Enlarge

A damaged book in need of restoration   Enlarge

A new tile with engraved initials of the tile sponsor   Enlarge