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

Today in History, 1016: The death of last king of England to be buried at St Paul's

Noted mainly for its state ceremonies, including funerals and memorials to the nation's greats, St Paul's also has a royal connection spanning many centuries.

Jubilee celebrations have been centred around St Paul's ever since Queen Victoria celebrated 60 years on the throne in 1897, but going back further, and although very rare, St Paul's has seen both royal weddings and funerals.

The two most notable nuptials were between Charles and Diana in 1981, and Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon in 1501. But you have to go back another 500 years from then to the last funeral of an English king.

On 23 April 1016, King Æthelred II, known widely as Æthelred the Unready died at the age of around 48.

At the age of just seven, Æthelred was king of England, following the murder of his half-brother Edward. It is disputed whether nobles in Æthelred's service had a hand in his brother's killing, but a hostile church was quick to give Edward the epithet The Martyr and the death cause political unrest which would continue to dog the new king.

As a young monarch Æthelred was poorly advised and as a result, gained his title of The Unready, meaning 'no counsel'. A poor soldier who could not count on the allegiance of his subjects, Æthelred had to form an alliance with the Duke of Normandy to help fight off Viking invaders. At one point he ordered the massacre of all the Danes in the country to help avoid potential treachery.

But the Danish pressure eventually told and in 1013, Æthelred fled to Normandy when the powerful Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark dispossessed him.

After Sweyn's death in 1014, Æthelred returned to reclaim his throne, but it was just two more years before he himself died in 1016.

At that time, the third of five St Paul's Cathedrals stood on this site, an Anglo-Saxon construction, possibly in the shape of a Roman cross with a long nave and small central tower. Æthelred was buried within the Cathedral, but upon that building's desrtruction by fire, his tomb was transferred to the next building, the vast medieval structure now known as Old St Paul's, where he was placed next to King Sæbbi of Essex (d.697).

However, the Great Fire of 1666 destroyed both tombs in their entirety.

998 years later, King Æthelred the Unready remains the last monarch to be buried at St Paul's.