In Photos: St Paul’s Summer Lates

Each year St Paul’s Cathedral opens its doors on select Summer dates to allow – no – encourage photography.

having visited Sumer Lates a couple of years ago, this time I was ready and armed with a wide angled lens rather than just an iPhone so I hope you enjoy the photos!

St Paul's Summer Lates

Tip: you can get a fantastic view of the North transept and dome from Queens Head Passage near Paternoster Square!

To Start, a fun fact

See that ball at the top of St Paul’s Cathedral?

That’s the one, just under the cross.

In the 1960s it was possible to climb a vertical ladder and actually stand inside the golden ball, peering through slits out onto London *gulp*.

It’s at a height of just shy of 365ft and apparently you could fit around 20 people inside it! Sadly with ‘ealth and safety today, you can only get as far as the railings.

Let’s Head Inside…

If you enter through the right hand side security, on your immediate right (even before they check tickets) is the Dean’s Stair.

St Paul's Summer Lates

You might recognise it as the entrance to Professor Trelawney’s divination classroom in the Harry Potter films, but in real life it was built in 1705. Appearing to float, the 88 Portland stone steps rise for 50 ft and aren’t built into the masonry. Each step is specifically shaped to bear the weight of the next!

Look Up!

St Paus Summer Lates

Not that you need much encouragement…

St Paul's Summer Lates

Wren’s original plan for the interior dome was mosaics, but in the end James Thornhill was commissioned to paint a monochrome series of the life of St Paul.

St Paul's Summer Lates

Mosaics do make an appearance though, on the eight spandrels (triangular parts) which were finished in late 1800s.

St Pauls Summer Lates

If you can drag your eyes away from the ceiling, the wood carvings deserve attention too. They were completed by Grinling Gibbons, Wren’s go-to-man for sculptural decoration, in the 1690s.

St Paul's Summer Lates

Enjoying this post? Get the latest London secrets to your email
See the City from a new angle, discovering little things you miss everyday. Once a week. No spam, just inspiration.
Your details will never be shared with any 3rd parties

Quire

Quire means the same as choir, but often is used in the architectural sense rather than the singing young boys sense. I like using it to seem architecturally fancy.

You can’t actually stand inside the quire, (it’s reserved for the choir), but you can admire the jaw-dropping mosaics.

St Paul's Summer Lates

They’re a lot more recent – completed by William Blake Richard in 1896 – and were a reaction to the common consensus at the time that St Paul’s needed brightening up. When Queen Victoria eventually said that it was “dull, cold, dreary and dingy”, the cathedral took note.

St Paul's Summer Lates

The East End

This is another relative newbie. After a WWII bomb destroyed a large part of the East end, the High Alter was finished in 1958.

St Pauls Summer Lates

The canopy, made of marble and carved oak, was based on sketches by Wren that never got completed.

St Paul's Summer Lates

But also head behind the High Alter to the American Chapel. There you’ll find a small space dedicated to the 28,000 Americans who gave their lives in WWII. The chapel itself is full of US symbols but a tony hidden detail is a space rocket!

St Paul's Summer Lates

It’s hard to make out but is nestled under foliage above the birds and flowers in the wood carvings and you’ll find it on the far right hand side. Look for the stars!

St Paul's Summer Lates

It was included as a sneaky reference to the US Space Program and their achievements in Space.

St Pauls Summer Lates

Monuments

Of the hundreds of monuments in St Paul’s I just wanted to share my favourite.

St Paul's Summer Lates

John Donne (1572-1631) was known for his sensual poetry and womanising, so probably not someone you’d expect to see in this holy place.

He was also born into a Catholic family, but his ambition got the better of him and after his younger brother Henry was arrested for hiding a Jesuit priest he abandoned Catholicism, even writing prose against it and joining the English army in fighting against Catholic Spain. He joined the Protestant priesthood in 1615 and was made Dean of St Paul’s only 6 years later, his passion for dramatic poetry being a good background for rousing sermons.

As you might have spotted by the dates, this effigy dates from before the Great Fire and was carved by Nicholas Stone the Elder in 1631. In dramatic fashion the whole tomb fell through the floor of the burning cathedral around the 4th September 1666 and managed to survive the fire.

Don’t miss the Crypt

If tombs are you bag, then you need to explore the crypt, full of Britain’s great and good, including Lord Nelson, Duke of Wellington and JMW turner.

Only have time for one? Make it Christopher Wren’s understated tomb;

St Paul's Summer Lates

Paraphrasing the Latin inscription, it reads:

“Reader, if you seek his monument, look around.”

Well said.

Summer Lates has now ended but you can visit the Cathedral all year round Monday – Saturday (including a steep climb to see the view from the dome!) Head to their website for timings and pricing here.

 More London Inspiration

  • Things to do in London

    10 Reasons Londoners Should Visit Parliament

    The oldest democracy in the world, based in a building with parts from the 11th century. If only those walls could talk. Thankfully, with the help of a Parliament guide they sort of do. Here's 10 things I learned from a guided tour of Parliament....

  • Unusual Gardens and Open Spaces in London

    10 Unusual Gardens and Open Spaces in London

    Often listed as one of the greenest cities in the world, London is blessed with 8 Royal Parks and surrounded by woodland. However, I've made a list of the more esoteric green places to visit in central London, spots with an interesting tale or simply in an unexpected place....

  • Weird London Street Names

    12 Weird London Street Names With A Story Behind Them

    Concerned by Hanging Sword Alley in EC4? Intrigued by Knightrider Street? Or tempted by Wardrobe Place? There are the best street names in the city and they each have a story to tell....

  • ondon doors

    15 London Doors With History Behind Them

    Whether it's a colour-pop Kensington townhouse or a dilapidated one in Shoreditch, they always seem to hint they've got some more to tell you....

  • London City Churches

    15 Unusual Things You Can Find In London City Churches

    There's 47 churches within London's square mile. Each with their own history and often some special quirk up their sleeve. From ancient relics to pop-up gardens and cutting edge sculpture to 17th century shoes, there's plenty of surprises to be found......

  • History To Spot On The Underground

    6 Bits Of History To Spot On The Underground

    Londoners are very proud of their 150+ year old subterranean network. Sure, we can complain about it, but we love it really. The main reason I love the tube is the little quirks you find at every new station....

St Pauls Summer Lates

No Comments

Post a Comment

three × three =

Want London secrets direct to your email?
See the City from a new angle, discovering little things you miss everyday. Once a week. No spam, just inspiration.
Your details will never be shared with any 3rd parties