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Construction Facts about St Paul's Cathedral in London

Updated on April 16, 2017
Ashish Dadgaa profile image

Ashish Dadgaa is a Construction Manager with 10 years of experience in the Industry. He writes about Home Improvement and maintenance.


History of St. Paul’s Cathedral

The St. Paul cathedral today is the fifth holy building since 1666, the first cathedral was constructed of wood and got burnt down in 675 AD. The second time the cathedral was built was by the Vikings in 685 AD and it was built using stone. The construction of a third cathedral started in 963 AD again with the use of stone materials. Then In the year of 1087, this cathedral was burnt down after it had stood for 125 years. The fourth cathedral was known as old St. Paul and its construction started in 1300 and was finished by 1561. It had taken over two hundred years to rebuild but unfortunately, the cathedral got turned to ash by the Great fire of London in 1666. And ten years later, Architect Sir Christopher Wren, was requested to design a new cathedral for which he prepared three designs for the construction of the new church one of which was accepted. Its foundation stone was placed on 21st June 1675 and it's construction finished in October 1708, It had taken 35 years to finish its construction.


Purpose of Structure

The main purpose of this cathedral was to build a church for worshippers. The cathedral has been the place of the royal family’s funeral, wedding and birthday celebrations. St. Paul's Cathedral is opened at present and continues to provide daily prayer sessions for its worshipers, and it is well as well known for being a popular tourist attraction.

Royal Family Members at St. Paul's Cathedral for Queen Elizabeth's birthday celebration.
Royal Family Members at St. Paul's Cathedral for Queen Elizabeth's birthday celebration. | Source

Architectural Style

The English Baroque style was used to design the new cathedral and the overall architecture of cathedral looks similar to St. Peter’s Basilica, which is found in Rome.


Material Used in Structure

The cathedral was constructed by using Portland stone in a late Renaissance style. Wear and tear of the stone was noticed on the North and West facade of the cathedral.


Primary Element

A minimum number of columns has been noted on the ground floor of the cathedral. On the other hand, wall sizes of the cathedral are very thick which shows that structural load has been distributed on the wall by increasing its size. All glass windows are placed in a deep niche in the walls. The upper walls of the cathedral are reinforced with a small column, which was added to give additional strength.

The primary feature of the cathedral is its dome. It is 367 feet high from ground level with a weight of 65,000 tons, which is supported by eight columns. In reality, the dome is made up of three elements. The first element is the outer dome, which is constructed just for the ornamental purpose and has no link with structure. The second element is the cone beneath the first dome which provides structural support and finally, the third element is the dome which is visible from inside. The dome’s excellent architect shows a high degree of construction excellence. The semi-circular porches on the south and north are also marvelous, but they have got major disadvantage as lots of houses have surrounded them.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Secondary Element

Interior of the Cathedral is very impressive. The dome ceiling is decorated with biblical scenes, gold, mosaic and 30 million pieces of glass, which all shows high skill and talent of a craftsman in the 18th century.

Minute wood carving has been done on the ambulatory, doors and hand rails of stairs. All the entrance doors are made of timber and are still in good condition at the present. The steps for whispering gallery looked well polished and railing was newly colored, which shows that maintenance is being carried out regularly. The stained glass windows look marvelous, because of its well-carved stone frame and huge size.


Whispering Gallery

One of the best features of the dome is the Whispering Gallery, It runs inside the dome’s edge and it takes 259 steps to reach on it. There are two other galleries above the Whispering Gallery. The Stone Gallery runs outside of the dome, which has 378 steps from ground level. The last one is the Golden Gallery which runs on the top point of the dome, It takes 530 steps to reach on it. Entry for the Stone and Golden Gallery has been closed but one can see stone railing of the gallery from the ground and furthermore, the railing is still in a good condition.

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 Stone Gallery and Golden Gallery 550 steps to reach on Golden Gallery.
 Stone Gallery and Golden Gallery
Stone Gallery and Golden Gallery | Source
550 steps to reach on Golden Gallery.
550 steps to reach on Golden Gallery. | Source

Repair and Maintenance

The building has been repaired and restored from internally and externally since 2000. At present, the cleaning and repairing of North Elevation is going on, which is being carried out by Cathedral Work Department.

Cathedral Work Department is not only involved in repair and cleaning but also they are involved in improving facilities for visitors. They are planning to construct a ramp for wheelchair access as demand has been increased since last year. The proposed plan of Cathedral Department has more chances of success as stone ramp would provide additional access to the cathedral floor for a large number of visitors and worshippers.


The Architect Sir Christopher Wren had expected that the life expectancy of the structure would be around 100 to 150 years but the structure had stood for more than 300 years and it had also survived the world war two. From this, we learned that Wren’s planning and design consideration was very strong. From its present condition and the maintenance of the cathedral, one could say that the structure will stand for more 100 years.

St Paulus Cathedral Megastructures

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© 2017 Ashish Dadgaa


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    • Ashish Dadgaa profile image

      Ashish Dadgaa 4 months ago


      Thank you very much :) I am glad that you found it useful. :)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for the close-up view and the detailed facts on the St. Paul's Cathedral. Good!

    • Ashish Dadgaa profile image

      Ashish Dadgaa 4 months ago


      Thank you so much for reading my hub and giving inspiration feedback :)

    • SakinaNasir53 profile image

      Sakina Nasir 4 months ago from Kuwait

      Great hub Ashish, my dear friend. Just love the facts and beautiful pictures too. :)