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.
The Henry VII Indentures Parchment, Velvet Cover
16 July 1504
This is a colourfully illuminated set of agreements known as an indenture quadripartite (four-part), of which several copies were made. They
formed part of a larger collection, including a series of four indentures bipartite (two-part) and an indenture septipartite (seven-part). As a
whole, these indentures record arrangements made between Henry VII and the abbot (John Islip) and monks of Westminster Abbey on 16 July 1504.
Primarily, they concern the King’s new burial chapel in the Abbey, the founding and maintenance of an almshouse, and rituals to be performed on
behalf of the King and his family.
The indenture quadripartite details ‘foreign obits’: annual practices to be fulfilled in perpetuity for the welfare of the King in life, of his
soul after death, and of his family. Among other duties, this included the saying of particular prayers, the delivery of sermons, the
performance of liturgies and the distribution of alms. Such ceremonial was indicative of the Catholic belief in prayers for the dead as a means
of helping souls to be delivered from Purgatory into Heaven. It was not just the abbot and monks of Westminster Abbey who were expected to
observe these anniversaries, though. As recompense for an annual dole, many other religious communities were also bound to the ritual
requirements of the indenture and faced a penalty if they defaulted.
Copies of the indenture quadripartite were distributed to the King, to the abbot and monks of Westminster Abbey, and to twenty third parties
including the Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral. Only half of these third party indentures are thought to survive. To ensure that separate copies
could later be reunited and verified as genuine, they were designed to fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This accounts for the
curious, wavy manner in which the upper edges of the pages have been trimmed. It would have allowed copies to be matched up with others of
interlocking shape. In fact, indentures derive their name from their appearance; the word ‘indenture’ comes from the French word
endenture, which means ‘indented’ or ‘toothed’.
Condon, Margaret, ‘God Save the King! Piety, Propaganda, and the Perpetual Memorial’, in Tim Tatton-Brown and Richard Mortimer (eds.),
‘Westminster Abbey: The Lady Chapel of Henry VII (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2003), pp. 59-97
McKendrick, Scot, John Lowden and Kathleen Doyle, Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination, exhibition catalogue (British