St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is Consecrated

"St Pauls aerial" by Mark Fosh - originally posted to Flickr as St Pauls. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons -
An aerial view of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London (Photo by Mark Fosh via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1697, the current St. Paul’s Cathedral in London was consecrated.

Here are some things you may not have known about the church.

It’s an Anglican cathedral and the seat of the Bishop of London. It’s located in the City of London, which is a small part of the metropolis of London and the center of the country’s banking industry.

The original cathedral was constructed on the same site in 604. It was enlarged several times and burned along with much of the city in 1087.

That church was followed by Old St. Paul’s, which burned in the Great Fire of 1666. To learn more about the Great Fire, download our episode about it at

Christopher Wren was put in charge of designing a new cathedral. The design process took several years and many revisions, but the first stone was laid in June of 1675.

The agreed-upon design featured a large dome, which is still among the highest in the world, and was inspired by Michelangelo’s design of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The substructure is also unusual. Because the area has weak clay soil, the cathedral was built with a crypt under the entire building instead of just a portion as would be the norm. Much of the crypt space is taken up by large columns that support and distribute the weight of the building above. Also, the dome is supported by eight columns, rather than the traditional four, which allows the columns to be more delicate in appearance.

The cathedral dome was completed in 1708, 11 years after services began in the building. Parliament declared the building complete on Christmas 1711.

During World War II, the cathedral was hit by bombs in October 1940 and April 1941. The second bomb exploded with such force that it shifted the dome very slightly.

From 1710 through 1962, St. Paul’s Cathedral was the tallest building in London. The Post Office Tower, now known as the BT Tower was the building that overtook it.

The cathedral remains a working church and holds three to four services a day. It is also the site of special services related to the City of London and the royal family. It was the site of the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981, and the funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.

Our question, what song from the movie “Mary Poppins” is sung in a scene on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral?

Today is International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. It’s also Armed Forces Day in Cuba and National Day in Laos and the United Arab Emirates. It’s unofficially National Fritters Day, National Mutt Day and Special Education Day. It’s the birthday of actress Julie Harris, tennis player Monica Seles, singer Britney Spears and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.


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