It’s rare that you see photos of the interior of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. With the exception of a couple days a year, photography is not permitted inside London’s historic cathedral.
My time in London was lucky enough to coincide with one of these late night, photography-allowed viewings of St. Paul’s Cathedral: Reformation Lates.
500 years ago, Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to a church door in Germany, triggering the reformation. To mark the 500th anniversary of this historic event in Christianity, St. Paul’s Cathedral hosted a series of special events that included opening its doors late at night for a photography-permitted, after-hours exploration of the cathedral.
Inside St. Paul’s, we were greeted by a relatively not-crowded cathedral that seemed to be populated with both avid photographers and Reformation enthusiasts keen to take a peek at the Tyndale Bible, the first ever copy of the New Testament printed in English, and one of only three to remain.
St. Paul’s Cathedral: A little history
I’ll keep this post short and sweet and let the pictures do the talking, but I thought it was important to give a little history of this gorgeous cathedral as it has always been such an integral part of London.
The earliest version of the cathedral was begun in 1087 AD by the chaplain to William the Conqueror. St. Paul’s was a Catholic establishment until the Reformation. In 1561, lightning struck the cathedral spire causing irreparable damage to the structure. Plans were made to repair the damage but were left unfinished at the outbreak of the English Civil War (1642). During this time, the nave was used as cavalry barracks.
A century later, the cathedral was still in disrepair. The Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 became the catalyst for cathedral repair and plans were finally agreed upon after architect Christopher Wren suggested adding a dome. However, only a week later, the Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed the cathedral almost in entirety.
Construction began in 1675 and was completed on 26 October 1708.
Since its completion, the cathedral has witnessed much history. It was closed for five years for strengthening; it suffered two significant bomb strikes during World War II; it has welcomed world leaders and reformers like Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King and the Dalai Lama. It witnessed the wedding of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana and the state funerals of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.
Until 1967, St. Paul’s was the tallest structure in London. Today, it is the second tallest church structure in England, behind Liverpool Cathedral.
Visiting St. Pauls Cathedral
Upon entering the cathedral, you can see why it has been a part of so much of London’s history. It is stunning.
Down in the crypt, you’ll find the tombs of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren as well as John Donne, J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Attwood, and more.
I’m so glad I got the opportunity to visit St. Paul’s, especially on a night that allowed photography and a chance to see one of the few remaining copies of the Tyndale Bible.
So, without further ado, enjoy these photos of the inside of St. Paul’s Cathedral. I hope they inspire you to visit on your next trip to London.
For more information on visiting and special events, check the St. Paul’s Cathedral website.
Have you visited St. Paul’s Cathedral?