Friday, December 2

St. Paul's

The dedication ceremony for the newly rebuilt St. Paul's Cathedral was held in London on this day in 1697. A church had stood on Ludgate Hill since the seventh century and a magnificent medieval cathedral was built there in 1087, twenty years after the Norman conquest. But this medieval cathedral was destroyed by the Great Fire that swept through London in September 1666.

The royal architect Christopher Wren was chosen to design the new cathedral--and his baroque and classical design was stunning with a main aisle of more than 150 yards and a dome soaring 366 feet above it. Construction began on June 21, 1675. Dedication ceremonies were held over twenty years later.

The church quickly became a London landmark. Many famous Britons were buried there in the years that followed, including the Duke of Wellington, Lord Nelson, and Sir Christopher Wren himself. During the Second World War, during the Nazi Blitz, the dome of St. Paul's towering through the haze was a beacon of hope and a comfort to the embattled population of London.

It remains one of the greatest architectural achievements of all time. Oh, how I love to visit it when I am in London.


Amber Benton said...

George and all readers,

For those of us who have not yet had the pleasure of traveling to England, what are some accessible works of architecture in the US that lift us beyond ourselves and our culture?

Amber Benton
Charlotte, NC

gileskirk said...

Amber: There are quite a few very fine works in the US. I love the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. St. Jon the Divine in New York City is quite wonderful. Other must see buildings include Grand Central Station in New York and the New York Public Library. But, the good news is that there are wonderful smaller buildings with peculiar pleasures all across the US.

bonnie said...

And there's Duke Chapel in Durham on the Duke Univ. campus. It is a neo-Gothic style. It's worth a visit, even if your not a Duke basketball fan! (UNCCH fans out there!)

Finish strong today , Dr. Grant!

Bonnie and Ken

Janie said...

As always, I benefit from and enjoy your blog and your books.

Question--do you have a suggestion for a good adult or juvenile biography of Christopher Wren? I've looked for a long time for one without success. As a long-time home educator and soon-to-be conventional school teacher, I have always wanted to center a study around Wren. I marvel at his life and achievements. And his acquaintances. Wonder if they realized the history they were making?


gileskirk said...

Janie: My favorite Wren biography is by Margaret Whinny and is published by Thames and Hudson. It has more than 150 wonderful black and white photographs and drawings.