Day 4 - St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, &
Not a lot of pictures today.
We started by going to one of the most amazing churches in the world,
St. Paul's Cathedral. Once at the
church, we got a audio walking tour. The audio tour was pretty good, we were
happy we did it. Walking to the top of the church is quite a challenge - you
had better be in shape. They do not allow pictures inside.
Here is some information from their website.
A Cathedral dedicated to St Paul has
overlooked the City of London since 604AD, a constant reminder to this
great commercial centre of the importance of the spiritual side of life.
The current Cathedral – the fourth to occupy this site – was designed by
the court architect Sir Christopher Wren and built between 1675 and 1710
after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. Its
architectural and artistic importance reflect the determination of the
five monarchs who oversaw its building that London’s leading church
should be as beautiful and imposing as their private palaces.
As the Cathedral of the capital city, St Paul’s is the spiritual focus
for the Nation. This is where people and events of overwhelming
importance to the country have been celebrated, mourned and commemorated
since the first Service took place in 1697.
Since then important services have included the funerals of Lord Nelson,
the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill; Jubilee celebrations
for Queen Victoria, King George V; peace services marking the end of the
First and Second World Wars; the launch of the Festival of Britain; the
Service of Remembrance and Commemoration for the 11th September 2001:
the 80th and 100th birthdays of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother; the
wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, to Lady Diana Spencer and, most
recently, the Thanksgiving for the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty the
Over the centuries, St Paul’s has changed to reflect shifting tastes and
attitudes. Decoration has been added and removed, services have been
updated, different areas have been put to new uses. Today, the history
of the nation is written in the carved stone of its pillars and arches
and is celebrated in its works of art and monuments.
In the crypt are effigies and fragments of stone that pre-date the
Cathedral, relics of a medieval world. From Wren’s original vision, Jean
Tijou’s beautiful wrought iron gates of 1700 still separate the quire
from the ambulatory; children still test the acoustics in the Whispering
Gallery; and the 1695 organ which Mendelssohn once played is still in
The magnificent mosaics are the result of Queen Victoria’s mid-19th
century complaint that the interior was “most dreary, dingy and
undevotional.” The American Memorial Chapel stands behind the High Altar
in an area that was bomb-damaged during the Second World War – a gesture
of gratitude to the American dead of the Second World War from the
people of Britain. An altar has now been installed on a dais in the
heart of the Cathedral, bringing services closer to those who attend
Throughout, St Paul’s has remained a busy, working church where millions
have come to worship and find peace. It is a heritage site of
international importance which attracts thousands of people each year, a
symbol of the City and Nation it serves and, above all, a lasting
monument to the glory of God.
As if that church wasn't amazing enough, we headed off to Westminster
Abbey. One the way, we needed to stop a get some more cash. The line at the
ATM was pretty long as the Tube stop, so we walked around outside to try to
find one. About an hour later, we ended up back at the tube stop and waiting
in line. (By the way, the are some ATM on the FRONT side of Westminster
Abbey across the street!)
Westminster Abbey was
pretty darn amazing. Lots of famous people buried there. Every time we
walked by Westminster Abbey, there were plenty of people there. So, just
take your time, relax and enjoy the show.
Here is some information from their website:
An architectural masterpiece of the 13th to 16th centuries,
Westminster Abbey also presents a unique pageant of British history –
the shrine of St Edward the Confessor, the tombs of kings and queens,
and countless memorials to the famous and the great. It has been the
setting for every Coronation since 1066 and for numerous other royal
occasions. Today it is still a church dedicated to regular worship and
to the celebration of great events in the life of the nation. Neither a
cathedral nor a parish church, Westminster Abbey is a “Royal Peculiar”
under the jurisdiction of a Dean and Chapter, subject only to the
Westminster Abbey, a work of architectural genius, a place of daily
worship, deploying the resources of high musical expertise, a burial
place of kings, statesmen, poets, scientists, warriors and musicians, is
the result of a process of development across the centuries, which
represents the response of a monastery and later a post-Reformation
church to the stimulus and challenge of its environment.
In the 1040s King Edward (later St Edward the Confessor), last of the
Anglo-Saxon kings, established his royal palace by the banks of the
river Thames on land known as Thorney Island. Close by was a small
Benedictine monastery founded under the patronage of King Edgar and St
Dunstan around 960 AD. This monastery Edward chose to re-endow and
greatly enlarge, building a large stone church in honour of St Peter the
Apostle. This church became known as the “west minster” to distinguish
it from St Paul’s Cathedral (the east minster) in the City of London.
Unfortunately, when the new church was consecrated on 28 December 1065
the King was too ill to attend and died a few days later. His mortal
remains were entombed in front of the High Altar.
The only traces of this Norman monastery are to be found in the round
arches and massive supporting columns of the Undercroft in the
Cloisters. This now houses the Abbey Museum but was originally part of
the domestic quarters of the monks. Among the most significant
ceremonies that occurred in the Norman Abbey were the coronation of
William the Conqueror on Christmas day 1066, and the “translation” or
moving of King Edward’s body to a new tomb a few years after his
canonisation in 1161.
Edward’s Abbey survived for two centuries until the middle of the 13th
century when King Henry III decided to rebuild it in the new Gothic
style of architecture. It was a great age for cathedrals: in France it
saw the construction of Amiens, Evreux and Chartres and in England
Canterbury, Winchester and Salisbury, to mention a few. Under the decree
of the King of England, Westminster Abbey was designed to be not only a
great monastery and place of worship, but also a place for the
coronation and burial of monarchs.
Every monarch since William the Conqueror, with the exception of Edward
V and Edward VIII who were never crowned, has been crowned in the Abbey.
It was natural that Henry III should wish to translate the body of the
saintly Edward the Confessor into a more magnificent tomb behind the
High Altar. This shrine survives and around it are buried a cluster of
medieval kings and their consorts including Henry III, Edward I and
Eleanor of Castile, Edward III and Philippa of Hainault, Richard II and
Anne of Bohemia and Henry V. The Abbey contains some 600 monuments and
wall tablets – the most important collection of monumental sculpture
anywhere in the country - and over three thousand people are buried
here. Notable among these is the Unknown Warrior, whose grave, close to
the west door, has become a place of pilgrimage.
A remarkable new addition to the Abbey was the glorious Lady chapel
built by King Henry VII, first of the Tudor monarchs, which now bears
his name. The chapel has a spectacular fan-vaulted roof and the
craftsmanship of Italian sculptor Torrigiano can be seen in Henry’s fine
tomb. The banners of the Knights of the Order of the Bath, which
surround the walls, together with the Battle of Britain window by Hugh
Easton at the east end, give colour to this chapel.
Two centuries later a further addition was made to the Abbey when the
western towers (left unfinished from medieval times) were completed, to
a design by Nicholas Hawksmoor. Little remains of the original medieval
stained glass, once one of the Abbey’s chief glories. The great west
window and the rose window in the north transept date from the early
18th century but the remainder of the glass dates from the 19th century
History did not cease with the passing of the medieval monastery in
1540. Queen Elizabeth I, buried in one of the aisles of Henry VII’s
chapel, refounded the Abbey in 1560 as a Collegiate Church, a Royal
Peculiar exempt from the jurisdiction of bishops and with the Sovereign
as its Visitor. In place of the monastic community a collegiate body of
a dean and prebendaries, minor canons and a lay staff was established
and charged with the task of continuing the tradition of daily worship
(for which a musical foundation of choristers, singing men and organist
was provided) and with the education of forty Scholars who formed the
nucleus of what is now Westminster School (one of the country’s leading
independent schools). In addition the Dean and Chapter were responsible
for much of the civil government of Westminster, a role which was only
fully relinquished in the early 20th century. Thus the Abbey was
reshaped and newly patterned to discharge a distinctive yet worshipful
role in a modern age.
Still today, a daily pattern of worship is offered to the Glory of God.
Special services, representative of a wide spread of interest and social
concern, are held regularly. In 1965-66 the Abbey celebrated its 900th
anniversary, taking as its theme ‘One People’. Such a theme seemed to be
fitting for a church which, through a long history of involvement with
the developing life of the British people, has become known throughout
We finished off the evening with a 'Jack-the-Ripper
Walk' from London Walks. Another good walk.
Richard (picture is blurry, sorry).
Pictures from Day Four
London Trip Home