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Social media photo competition seeks to show a 'Surprise St Paul's'

A never-before experienced prize awaits the winner of a photography competition aimed at raising awareness of St Paul’s Cathedral’s crucial fundraising department.

A private, behind-the-scenes evening photography tour of St Paul’s, led by Oliver Caroe, the Cathedral’s Surveyor to the Fabric - the position held by Sir Christopher Wren himself - awaits the person who can submit the most surprising image of Wren’s great masterpiece.

The session, for the winner and five friends, will then be followed by a meal at the Benihama restaurant in the nearby luxury 5-star Grange St Paul’s Hotel.

Standing tall above the great city London, St Paul’s is amongst the most photographed buildings in the world and earlier this year was shown to be the single most photographed building in London. But the Cathedral thinks there are photographs to be taken which show the outside of the building in different ways, perhaps even from an angle never seen before - and this is what competition organisers are inviting.

Surprise St Paul’s, is being run from 18 August to 26 September on the Cathedral’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Entrants just need to tweet or Facebook post their images to the Cathedral’s account, also using the hash tag #SurpriseStPauls.

Please only enter images directly and not through 3rd party applications such as Flickr or Instagram.

All entries will be compiled on the Cathedral’s Flickr account and the ultimate winner will be selected by the Director of the National Portrait Gallery and Chair of the Cathedral’s Fabric Advisory Committee, Sandy Nairne.

The winner will enjoy a private evening inside St Paul’s, for them and up to five friends, at which they will be able to take photographs on the Cathedral tour, both in the grand spaces seen by hundreds-of-thousands of people each year and in smaller, very rarely seen areas.

Watch a taste of some of the areas winners may see in this Londonist behind-the-scenes video.

All six people will then head over the road to the Grange Hotel, which boasts fabulous unobstructed views of the Cathedral, where they will enjoy a Traditional Hibachi Dinner or Benihana Specialties Dinner, with wine included.

The competition comes after St Paul’s launched its text giving services, offering users the chance to help support the ministry, work and maintenance of St Paul’s either through a one-off £3 donation or a recurring monthly £5 donation.

All entrants to Surprise St Paul’s will receive information about these text giving services, although no competition entrant is in any way obliged to donate. 

Matthew Lagden, Director of Development at St Paul’s, said: "St Paul’s receives no government money for its upkeep or to help fund the vast array of services, events and debates that take place here throughout the year. 

"We hope to engage, excite and surprise everyone who comes here for whatever reason, so through this photo competition we are asking everyone to surprise us back. 

"Whether the photo shows the whole Cathedral from miles away or just a tiny detail from up-close, we are looking forward to seeing all entries. And the theme is such that you have as good a chance of winning if you have top camera equipment or just a smartphone.”

With thanks to Grange St Paul’s Hotel