St Paul’s Cathedral Tour – Fri 23 Feb 2024

On Friday 23 February, the Master and 13 Members of the Company enjoyed a wonderful tour of St Paul’s Cathedral followed by a delicious afternoon tea at Browns, Old Jewry. Jill, our guide, was a wellspring of information about the history and lore of St Paul’s.

The ground where the Cathedral now stands was consecrated in 604 AD when work began on the first St Paul’s. Since then, several versions of St Paul’s were re-built until we have the present Cathedral built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London. Work on this building commenced in 1668 and was completed in 1711. Originally the dome was not accepted as part of the design as it was deemed not to be traditional but by obtaining royal patronage, Wren was able to include the dome. However, Wren did not get it all his way - he wanted to have mosaics adorning the ceiling, but the beautiful murals we see today were installed instead.

Two bell towers stand at the front of the Cathedral. On top of one is a statue of Saint Peter and on the other is a statue of Saint Paul, both being the patron saints of the Cathedral.

During the second World War, St Paul’s became the symbol of defiance and steadfastness against Germany’s aerial bombardment of London. Winston Churchill declared that St Paul’s Cathedral shall stand undamaged at all costs. This was accomplished by volunteers who would risk their lives staying in the Cathedral during the raids. Their duty was to climb into the nooks and crannies in the case of an incendiary bomb setting fire to the building.

Throughout history, St Paul’s Cathedral has reflected the major events and the society of the day. In the recent past, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, St Paul’s Cathedral hosted an online Book of Remembrance. This is now housed in a special Chapel of Remembrance open to the public to honour and remember those that were lost during the pandemic.

St Paul’s embodies survival and longevity and the Cathedral is pivotal to the pastoral life of the Livery. The passion and enthusiasm that Jill had for St Paul’s kept us entertained and enthralled. Many of us left wanting to come back and explore this magnificent historical building further.