St Paul's Library Project

The Collections
Today at the Cathedral View More
7:30am Morning Prayer
8:00am Eucharist
8:30am Doors open for sightseeing
12:30pm Eucharist
4:00pm Last entry for sightseeing
5:00pm Choral Evensong

St Paul's Library Project

The Library Project 

The magnificent library chamber in St Paul's Cathedral was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and Christopher Wren and was completed in 1709. Some of  most talented British craftsmen of the time contributed to the stone carving and woodwork which has received limited conservation care over the last three hundred years. Many parts of the cathedral were radically re-ordered in the nineteenth century, however the library has remained largely unaltered in terms of its principal fixtures and fittings. It houses an important collection of books, manuscripts and archive material, largely collected since the Great Fire of London, which is used by researchers of theology, church history and the life and work of St Paul's.

After a successful fundraising campaign, the library project is now almost completely funded. The scope of the project includes: the replacement of an existing wet heating system with an electrical, environmental-control heating system; conservation cleaning of the fabric including the floor, the presses, the gallery, walls, carved pilasters and ceiling; new blinds will be installed and air tightness measures will be undertaken for the main areas of air leakage. The existing reader facilities will be up-graded and new display cases will enable more of the Collection to be used in learning and visitor engagement activities. 

The library shelves have not been emptied since the Second World War, when their contents were transported to Wales for safe keeping during the Blitz. The removal of all the books will provide a rare opportunity to check the fabric of the building that surrounds them. The whole room will be checked for damp areas behind shelves. The shelving itself will also be checked for anything that might harm the books, eg splits in shelves or insecure shelf-adjustment systems, and any repairs. The empty Library also provides an opportunity to fully understand the effect of the books on the environment. 

The project is currently in RIBA Stage Three. Investigations are being carried out to determine the options for various aspects of the works listed above. A range of external experts are being consulted on the approaches we wish to take. A full project proposal will be submitted to the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England for approval before detailed design begins in RIBA Stage Four. The library will be closed to readers and tours from 2nd July 2018 and will reopen in the summer of 2020.

For enquiries concerning the project please contact Simon Carter, Head of Collections: