In history

St Paul’s Cathedral opened on 2nd December 1697 in London and since then has been one of the most recognisable places in the capital. To celebrate the anniversary of its opening, here are ten things you should know about St Paul’s Cathedral.

1 – Sir Christopher Wren, the Cathedral’s architect, was the first person buried there
Sir Christopher Wren was one of the most prolific British architects and when he died in 1723, he was laid to rest in the cathedral’s tomb and was the first person to do so. He was the first of numerous notable figures to have their final resting place there.

2 – The St Paul’s we know is the fourth church to stand on the site
The land that the cathedral stands on as been consecrated since around 600AD. There have been several buildings since then, the Great Fire of London destroyed the previous one!

3 – The Cathedral’s dome is the second largest in the world
Joining the likes of the Pantheon in Rome, St Paul’s Cathedral has one of the biggest domes in the world. St Paul’s stands at 366 feet high and visitors can climb the stairs to the top where there are incredible views of the city. In fact, it is second only in size to St Peter’s in Rome.

4- The art collection spans hundreds of years
St Paul’s has a huge art collection that spans several different periods including Henry Moore’s Madonna and Child sculpture.

5 – Speaking of Art…
Did you know that the Cathedral hosts rotating art installations? Well it does! Yoko Ono and Swarovski have both hosted works there.

6 – Being buried or hosting a funeral is seen as a national honour
Having St Paul’s Cathedral as the venue for your funeral or location of your grave remains one of the highest national honours that can be bestowed on someone. Notable people who have had their funerals there include Winston Churchill and those buried there include Florence Nightingale and Alexander Fleming. The crypt is the largest in Western Europe and extends the entire length of the building. There are over 200 monuments there.

7  – It was almost blown up by Suffragettes
When the Suffragettes were campaigning for the vote to be extended to women, they undertook a policy of domestic terrorism. One of their plans was to blow up the Bishop’s throne in St Paul’s Cathedral, they planted a battery powered bomb in the cathedral but it was faulty and failed to explode.

8 – Martin Luther King preached there
Martin Luther King gave a sermon at St Paul’s Cathedral in 1964 to over three thousand people! As well as being an activist, Martin Luther King was also a minister and his visit was one of the most popular in the cathedral’s history.

9 – You can hear whispers there
St Paul’s Cathedral’s Whispering Gallery has been designed in a way that makes sound carry really well, so even if you’re stood on opposite sides of the gallery, you can have a conversation entirely in whispers.

10 – It was once London’s tallest building
Up until 1962, St Paul’s Cathedral was the tallest building in the city, it is also one of the largest churches in the world and is located on the City’s highest point.

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