This Monday I had the chance to do something I don’t get to do very often and that is enjoy London as a tourist. It’s easy when you live and work here to get bogged down with the traffic congestion and crowds and not make the most of the place. So on MondaI went and spent half a day at St. Pauls Cathedral. I have a few tours coming up to various cathedrals and whilst I know the others in London very well I felt I could learn more about St. Pauls.
There has been a cathedral on the site since around 600 AD but the first was destroyed in a fire shortly after the Norman invasion and then the second was also destroyed by fire in The Great Fire of London. The cathedral we see today was built by Sir Christopher Wren and whilst everywhere around it was destroyed by fire-bombs in WW2, St. Pauls miraculously survived.
I will write a proper post on St. Pauls another day as I am currently out every day on tours but I wanted to share with you some incredible photos of this incredible building. Sadly visitors aren’t allowed to take photos inside the building so here are one or two from more official sources. Those who have also visited Westminster Abbey can see the huge difference in style and decoration but St. Pauls is still incredibly beautiful inside.
I spent several hours bumping into tombs and statues of my heroes and one or two people I actually despise! The legendary painter JMW Turner is remembered on one side of the knave whilst almost directly opposite him is General Gordon of Khartoum fame. Down in the catacombs amongst others you find it hard to avoid coming across such monumental names as the Duke of Wellington and Lord Horatio Nelson or The Most Noble Lord Horatio Nelson, Viscount and Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, Baron Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough in the said County, Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Vice Admiral of the White Squadron of the Fleet, Commander in Chief of his Majesty’s Ships and Vessels in the Mediterranean, Duke of Bronté in the Kingdom of Sicily, Knight Grand Cross of the Sicilian Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit, Member of the Ottoman Order of the Crescent, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of St Joachim. Or at least that is what is written on his tomb… I’m sure his titles were shortened for brevity.
At 365 feet or 111 metres tall, it is several hundred steps up to the famous whispering gallery and even more to get up to the roof. At several points on the climb I wondered if I might not make it and passed several people who looked if not to be abandoning the challenge then to at least be stopping for a long break. The final hundred steps or so are up a slightly creaking narrow spiral iron staircase and it seemed obvious to us all that only the strength of the centuries old masonry was stopping us from make impressions of human pancakes on the ground far, far below.
The view on the top is incredible though. I could see probably 30-50 miles in each direction depending on the elevation of the higher ground north and south of London. Some great views of river and the City whereas Westminster in the west and the Docklands in the east were really just specs on the horizon. I thought I would share a few photos here of the dramatic and ever changing skyline of London.
If you want to see more photos then please consider following me on Pinterest where I will be adding lots of photos from my various tours in London and around England as well as lots of other photos relating to my current and upcoming books.