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Explore the Cathedral
There are many different parts of the Cathedral for you to discover, from the underground Crypt to the Golden Gallery, 111 metres above London. This section will take you around each section of the Cathedral. Just select the area you would like to visit from the drop-down menu below.
The High Altar
The present high altar dates from 1958 and is made of marble and carved and gilded oak. It features a magnificent canopy based on a sketch by Christopher Wren, but which wasn't built in his time. It replaced a large Victorian marble altar and screen, which were damaged by a bomb strike in WW2, which destroyed a large part of the east end of the Cathedral.
At the east end of the Cathedral behind the High Altar is the American Memorial Chapel, also known as the Jesus Chapel. This part of the Cathedral was destroyed during the Blitz and as part of the restoration it was decided that the people of Britain should commemorate the 28,000 Americans stationed in the UK during WW2. The images that adorn its wood, metalwork and stained glass include depictions of the flora and fauna of North America.
The quire is at the east of the Cathedral's cross and is where the choir and clergy normally sit during services. The quire was the first part of St Paul's to be built and consecrated. The choir stalls on both sides feature delicate carvings by Grinling Gibbons, whose work is seen in many royal palaces and great houses. The Bishop's throne, or cathedra, sits in the quire.
North Quire Aisle
The wrought-iron gates in the north quire aisle, also known as the Minor Canons' Aisle, were designed by the French master metalworker Jean Tijou, who was responsible for most of the decorative metalwork in the Cathedral. The aisle also houses the sculpture Mother and Child: Hood, one of Henry Moore's very final commissions in the 1980s. A memorial to modern martyrs honours Anglicans who have died for their faith since 1850.
South Quire Aisle
The south quire aisle, also known as the Dean's Aisle, contains the effigies of two Bishops of London and also a marble effigy of John Donne. Donne was a Dean of the Cathedral and one of Britain's finest poets, who died in 1631. It is one of the few monuments to have survived the Great Fire of London - scorch marks can be seen on its base. This aisle is where the clergy and choir gather before services.
A monument to one of Britain's greatest soldiers and statesmen, Arthur, Duke of Wellington, sits in one of the arches between the nave and the north aisle. Wellington died in 1852 but his monument was not completed until 1912, when the figure on horseback was unveiled. During WW2 the figures of Wellington and his horse were put into safe storage.
The South Transept
The monument to Britain's great naval hero, Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, stands in the south transept. Other memorials commemorate Nelson's second-in-command, Cuthbert Collingwood, the landscape painter JMW Turner and the explorer Captain Robert Scott. There is also a door out to the south gallery, which affords fantastic views towards the Millennium Bridge and Tate Modern.
The North Transept
Undoubtedly the most dominating feature of the north transept is William Holman Hunt's painting The Light of the World, which forms an altarpiece in the Chapel of St Erkenwald and St Ethelburga, otherwise known as the Middlesex Chapel. The painting depicts the figure of Christ knocking on a door that opens from inside, suggesting that God can only enter our lives if we invite Him in. It dates from around 1900 and is the third version that Hunt painted.
The South Aisle
The south aisle is located to the right of the Great West Door entrance. Off this narrow aisle you can access The Chapel of St Michael and St George, which is the spiritual home to the Order of the same name. The chapel was originally the consistory court - the place where the bishop sat in judgement over the clergy. Memorials include that of Thomas Middleton, first Bishop of India.
The North Aisle
The north aisle is located to the left of the Great West Door entrance. Off this narrow aisle you can access St Dunstan's Chapel, which is set aside for private prayer at all times of the day, and the Chapel of All Souls, also known as the Kitchener Chapel as it contains a memorial to the First World War army leader. Memorials include angels to the Viscounts William and Frederick Melbourne.
The first breathtaking view that visitors encounter when they enter St Paul's is the vista down the full length of the Cathedral from the nave - the long central aisle that leads to the dome. At the very west end of the nave are the Great West Doors, which stand nine metres tall and are used for special services and the arrival of visitors such as HM The Queen and the Lord Mayor of London.
The Grand Organ
The Grand Organ was built and installed in 1695 and has seen several restorations since. Its case by Grinling Gibbons, is one of the Cathedral's greatest artefacts, and once formed a screen keeping the quire separate from the nave and dome areas. The third largest organ in the UK, it has 7,189 pipes, five keyboards and 138 organ stops.
At 111 metres high, the dome of St Paul's is the second largest cathedral dome in the world, weighing approximately 65,000 tons. St Paul's has a three-dome structure, allowing the inner dome to rise in proportion to the internal architecture and the outer dome to be much larger and impressive. It is this outer dome shell that is prominent on the London skyline. Between these two domes is a third; a brick cone which provide strength and supports the stone lantern above.
The Whispering Gallery
Climb 257 steps up from the Cathedral floor and you will find the Whispering Gallery, which runs around the interior of the dome. It gets its name from a charming quirk in its construction, which makes a whisper against its walls audible on the opposite side.Back to the dome
The Stone Gallery
The Stone Gallery is the first of two galleries above the Whispering Gallery that encircle the outside of the dome. The Stone Gallery stands 52 metres from ground-level and can be reached by 376 steps.Back to the dome
The Golden Gallery
The Golden Gallery is the smallest of the galleries and runs around the highest point of the outer dome, at 85 metres. Visitors who climb the 528 steps to this gallery will be treated to panoramic views of London.Back to the dome
The Ball and Lantern
The original ball and cross were erected in 1708. They were replaced by a new ball and cross in 1821, designed by the Surveyor to the Fabric, C R Cockerell. The ball and cross stand at 23 feet high and weigh approximately seven tonnes.Back to the dome
Discover the Crypt
Lord Nelson was famously killed in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and buried in St Paul's after a state funeral. He was laid in a coffin made from the timber of a French ship he defeated in battle. The black marble sarcophagus that adorns his tomb was originally made for Cardinal Wolsey, Lord Chancellor during the reign of Henry VIII in the early sixteenth century. After Wolsey's fall from favour, it remained unused at Windsor until a suitable recipient could be found. Nelson's viscount coronet now tops this handsome monument.
Wellington rests in a simple but imposing casket made of Cornish granite. Although a national hero, Wellington was not a man of glory in his victories. The Duke was known as The Iron Duke and as a result of his tireless campaigning, has left a colourful list of namesakes - Wellington boots, the dish Beef Wellington and even a brand of cigars. He also coined some memorable phrases. He gave the expression ' . . . and another thing' to the English language and declared 'The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.' The banners hanging around Wellington's tomb were made for his funeral procession.
Sir Christopher Wren's Tomb
Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St Paul's, is buried in the south aisle at the east end of the crypt. His tomb is marked by a simple stone and is surrounded by memorials to his family, to Robert Hooke and to the masons and other colleagues. The Latin epitaph above his tomb, famously addresses us: 'Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you.' In the same section of the crypt are many tombs and memorials of artists, scientists and musicians. They include the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds; the scientist Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin; the composer Arthur Sullivan; and the sculptor Henry Moore.
Oculus: an eye into St Paul's
Oculus: an eye into St Paul's
Oculus: an eye into St Paul's is a 270° film experience that brings 1,400 years of history to life. Located in the atmospheric former Treasury in the crypt, Oculus takes visitors on a journey through the history and daily life of St Paul's in three films: Life of the Cathedral; Resurgam, I will Rise Again; and Virtual Access, the Dome
Oculus is currently closed for maintenance.
All Souls' Chapel: the Kitchener Memorial
The All Souls' Chapel in the north tower was dedicated in 1925 to the memory of Field Marshal Lord Kitchener. Kitchener died at sea and his body was never recovered. He is best known for his restructuring of the British army during WW1 and for the most effective recruitment campaign in British military history, using the slogan 'Your Country Needs You'. Among the chapel's artefacts are sculptures of the military saints St Michael and St George, a beautiful pietá - a sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding the body of Christ - and an effigy of Lord Kitchener.
St Dunstan's Chapel
St Dunstan's Chapel, consecrated in 1699, was the second part of Wren's building to come into use, after the quire. In 1905, it was dedicated to St Dunstan, a Bishop of London who became of Archbishop of Canterbury in 959. Before this it was known as the Morning Chapel, because the early morning service of Mattins was conducted here. The Chapel of St Dunstan is set aside for prayer throughout every day. You can light a candle here, or you can leave the names of those you wish to remember in prayer during one of the Cathedral's services.
The Chapel of St Michael and St George
The Chapel of St Michael and St George, off the south aisle was originally the consistory court in which cases of ecclesiastical law were heard. Renamed in 1906 and dedicated to St Michael and St George, it is the spiritual home of the Order of St Michael and St George, founded in 1818 to honour people who have rendered important service overseas. Amongst the chapel stalls are banners of current knights and officers of the Order, including HM The Queen, who visits periodically for the Order's ceremonial service.
The Chapel of St Erkenwald and St Ethelburga: The Middlesex Chapel
The Middlesex Chapel is home to members of the Middlesex Regiment. The flags in the chapel are the colour of the Middlesex Regiment - the empty pole belongs to a flag that was lost during WW2. Behind the altar stands William Holman Hunt’s Light of the World painting.
The American Memorial Chapel
At the east end of the Cathedral behind the High Altar is the American Memorial Chapel, also known as the Jesus Chapel. This part of the Cathedral was destroyed during the Blitz and as part of the restoration it was decided that the people of Britain should commemorate the 28,000 Americans stationed in the UK during WW2. The images that adorn its wood, metalwork and stained glass include depictions of the flora and fauna of North America. The windows feature the American state symbols and the limewood panelling incorporates a rocket - a tribute to America's achievements in space.
The Knights Bachelor Chapel
The Chapel of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor is also known as St Martin's Chapel. The Chapel was dedicated by HM the Queen in 2008. The Chapel is panelled with English oak and in it, in two elegant cases, are kept the registers which contain the names of all Knights Bachelor from 1257 to date and also the Founder Knights' and Benefactors' Book. Near them is displayed Queen Victoria's sword with which she knighted many famous men; this is on loan from Wilkinson Sword Ltd.
The Order of the British Empire Chapel
At the east end of the Crypt is the OBE Chapel, also known as St Faith’s Chapel. The original St Faith's was a parish church attached to the old Cathedral destroyed in the Great Fire of London. In 1960 this chapel became the spiritual home to the Order of the British Empire. The OBE was instituted by King George V in 1917 initially to recognise the considerable civilian contribution to the war effort during the 1914-18 war. It was a pioneering honour in its day, being the first five-class Order for national distribution and the first to admit women to membership.
Exterior & Churchyard
St Paul's Cross