St Paul’s Cathedral has been here for over 1,400 years. It has been built and rebuilt five times, and always its main purpose has been as a
place of worship and prayer.
St Paul's, with its world-famous dome, is an iconic feature of the London skyline. Step inside and you can enjoy the Cathedral's awe-inspiring
interior, and uncover fascinating stories about its history.
Learning & Faith
Lifelong learning is a core part of the our work, delivered through a variety of events by St Paul's Institute, and the
Cathedral's Adult Learning and Schools & Family Learning departments.
History & Collections
For more than 1,400 years, a Cathedral dedicated to St Paul has stood at the highest point in the City. The present Cathedral is the
masterpiece of Britain's most famous architect Sir Christopher Wren.
Behind the scenes, the cost of caring for St Paul's and continuing to deliver our central ministry and work is enormous and the generosity of
our supporters is critical.
Widely considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful buildings and a powerful symbol of the splendour of London, St Paul’s Cathedral is a
breathtaking events venue.
On 12 October 1958 one of the
most significant performers and activists of his day, Paul Robeson, sang at St Paul’s Cathedral. To mark the sixtieth anniversary of this event we
look back at that occasion and the life of this extraordinary man, whose story deserves to be celebrated much more widely.
Rise to Fame
Paul Robeson (1898-1976) was an
American actor, bass-baritone singer and political activist, whose career spanned over forty years. He achieved success as an actor and singer on
stage, playing Othello in London and New York, and on film, in 1936 adaptation of the musical Showboat. As an actor he tried to break out of
the stereotypical parts traditionally given to African-Americans, seeking depth and dignity in his roles.
Politically, he was a staunch
socialist, and gave vocal support to the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War and was a frequent visitor to the Soviet Union, whose
perceived racial tolerance he admired. He was also a strong supporter of the Civil Rights movement in the USA, refusing to perform before
In the 1950s, because of his
political beliefs, he came under sharper scrutiny from the American authorities. His passport was confiscated in 1950 and it was impossible
for him to perform abroad.
Due to his popularity in Britain,
there was a considerable campaign to get Paul’s passport returned. Concerts were organised in the UK, to which Paul contributed by singing down the
telephone line from America. Partly due to this pressure, Robeson’s passport was returned in 1958 and he travelled to Britain for a series of
concerts. During this tour he made several television and radio appearances and also returned to the role of Othello at Stratford in
Paul Robeson at St Paul’s
Paul was invited by John Collins, a
Canon of the Cathedral, to sing at Evensong at St Paul’s on October 12th 1958. Robeson’s appearance raised funds for the Defence in the
South African Treason Trials, in which 156 people, including Nelson Mandela, were accused of treason. The service was attended by around 4,000
people, with many standing at the back, and there were huge crowds outside the Cathedral.
Paul sang a selection of spiritual
songs from the Eagle Lectern and became the first black person to read The Lesson in the cathedral. After the service, he was congratulated by
well-wishers both inside and outside the Cathedral.
For the month of October 2018 a bust of Paul Robeson by the sculptor Jacob Epstein was displayed under the cathedral dome for the anniversary
of the concert - on loan from York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery).
“The artist must take sides. He
must elect to fight for freedom or slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative.” Paul Robeson 1937