St Paul’s Cathedral, London, England

St Paul’s Cathedral, London, England   Facebook share

 St Paul's Cathedral, London, is an Anglican cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London. It sits at the top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. The present church, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. Its construction, completed within Wren's lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding programme which took place in the city after the Great Fire of London. 

 
The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognisable sights of London, with its dome, framed by the spires of Wren's City churches, dominating the skyline for 300 years.  At 365 feet (111 m) high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1962, and its dome is also among the highest in the world. In terms of area, St Paul's is the second largest church building in the United Kingdom after Liverpool Cathedral.
 
St Paul's Cathedral occupies a significant place in the national identity of the English population. It is the central subject of much promotional material, as well as postcard images of the dome standing tall, surrounded by the smoke and fire of the Blitz. Important services held at St Paul's have included the funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill; Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria; peace services marking the end of the First and Second World Wars; the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer, the launch of the Festival of Britain and the thanksgiving services for the Golden Jubilee, the 80th Birthday and the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. St Paul's Cathedral is a busy working church, with hourly prayer and daily services.
 
 
History 
Pre-Norman cathedrals 
A list of the 16 "archbishops" of London was recorded by Jocelyne of Furness in the 12th century, claiming London's Christian community was founded in the 2nd century under the legendary King Lucius and his missionary saints Fagan, Deruvian, Elvanus, and Medwin. None of that is considered credible by modern historians but, although the surviving text is problematic, either Bishop Restitutus or Adelphius at the 314 Council of Arles seems to have come from Londinium.  The location of Londinium's original cathedral is unknown. The present structure of St Peter upon Cornhill was designed by Christopher Wren following the Great Fire in 1666 but it stands upon the highest point in the area of old Londinium and medieval legends tie it to the city's earliest Christian community. In 1999, however, a large and ornate 5th-century building on Tower Hill was excavated, which might have been the city's cathedral. 
 
The Elizabethan antiquarian William Camden argued that a temple to the goddess Diana had stood during Roman times on the site occupied by the medieval St Paul's cathedral. Christopher Wren reported that he had found no trace of any such temple during the works to build the new cathedral after the Great Fire, and Camden's hypothesis is no longer accepted by modern archaeologists. 
 
Bede records that in AD 604 St Augustine consecrated Mellitus as the first bishop to the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the East Saxons and their king, Sæberht. Sæberht's uncle and overlord, Æthelberht, king of Kent, built a church dedicated to St Paul in London, as the seat of the new bishop. It is assumed, although unproven, that this first Anglo-Saxon cathedral stood on the same site as the later medieval and the present cathedrals.
 
On the death of Sæberht in about 616, his pagan sons expelled Mellitus from London, and the East Saxons reverted to paganism. The fate of the first cathedral building is unknown. Christianity was restored among the East Saxons in the late 7th-century and it is presumed that either the Anglo-Saxon cathedral was restored or a new building erected as the seat of bishops such as Cedd, Wine and Earconwald, the last of whom was buried in the cathedral in 693. This building, or a successor, was destroyed by fire in 962, but rebuilt in the same year. King Æthelred the Unready was buried in the cathedral on his death in 1016. The cathedral was burnt, with much of the city, in a fire in 1087, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 


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