The Great Model

The Collections
Today at the Cathedral View More
No sightseeing openings today
7:30am Morning Prayer - transferred to St Martin, Ludgate
8:00am Eucharist - transferred to St Martin, Ludgate
11:00am The Grenfell Tower National Memorial Service
6:30pm A Celebration of Christmas

The Great Model

The Great Model
Oak, plaster and lime wood
Designed by Christopher Wren
Made by William Cleere
1673/4

Made to scale of 1:25, this model represents the design of great magnificence and beauty, according to which, Charles II appointed Wren, by warrant of 12th November 1673, and directed him to build the cathedral. It was intended to be a permanent record, in case of accident to the architect, and to show, more clearly than sets of drawings could do, how everything fitted together.  
 
It was designed to be walked through at eye-level to suggest the experience of the real interior. The model was made from full-size drawings scaled up by Wren and his assistant Edward Woodroffe, working at a large table in the Cathedral convocation house. For most of its life it has been kept in the cathedral.
 
The model was completed by August 1674 at a cost of about £600, the cost of a good London house. Originally it was painted "stone colours" inside and out, with grey for the lead of the domes, gilded details and fictive relief. Wren made other designs for St Paul's both before and after the Great Model, all the time he was learning about the process of designing a cathedral and about the specific requirements of the one we have today.
 
Although it shares broadly the same appearance as the finished building, there are significant differences between this presentation model and the cathedral as built. Some of the most notable changes were: the extension of the quire, changes to the West front and the introduction of the bell towers in place of a bell cupola half way down the nave.
 
To book a visit to see the Great Model email admissions@stpaulscathedral.org.uk
 
Further reading:
Building St Paul’s, James Campbell, Thames & Hudson 2008
St Paul’s 604-2004, Ed. Keene, Burns and Saint , Yale centre for British Art 2004
 
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