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Everything You Need to Know About St Paul’s Cathedral

Whether you’re planning a visit, researching, or just curious about this amazing church, we have everything you need to know about St Paul’s Cathedral.

Browse the list of questions we are asked most frequently by our guests and amaze your friends with your encyclopedic knowledge, they don’t need to know where you got it from right?

If you enjoy reading about this famous Church, we’re sure you’d love one of our private St Paul’s Cathedral Tours, led by a professional Blue Badge Tour Guide.

Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about visiting St Paul’s on a guided tour.

St Paul's Cathedral seen at night from an elevated perspective

First, what is St Paul’s Cathedral?

St Paul’s is a cathedral dedicated to St Paul, who you may know as the apostle Paul. It is located in the city of London and dominates the London skyline by law. It is also the seat of the Bishop of London.

Built by Architect Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th Century this magnificent building steeped in British history has become one of the most popular London attractions.

Information for Planning a Visit to St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral reflected in One New Change

Can I visit St Pauls Cathedral?

Yes, you can visit St Paul’s for the majority of the year without restriction. Please bear in mind, however, this functioning Church observes many religious and national events. Your visit may be restricted during these times, check the website for closures.

Is St Pauls Cathedral free?

St Paul’s is a living and working Church, as such its is always free to enter for the purpose of private prayer.

However, visitors who wish to simply look around this magnificent building are required to purchase a ticket.

Tickets prices and opening hours

Find the price of St Paul’s Cathedral admission below:

  • Adults: £18 (booked online)
  • Children: £7.70

As indicated above you can save money and time by pre-purchasing your entrance tickets online.

The Church is open Monday-Saturday 08:30 AM-4:00 PM, excluding major religious events and bank holidays.

How long does evensong last at St Paul’s Cathedral?

There is a daily choral Evensong at St Paul’s and everybody is always welcome to join. The service starts at 5 PM (Monday to Saturday) and lasts about 45 minutes. The start is at 3 PM on Sundays.

Is there a dress code for Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral?

There is no specific dress code required for evensong, however, please remember you are visiting an active Church. Anybody who is dressed for sightseeing or an office meeting would be comfortable visiting without changing their clothes. 

Why is St Paul’s Cathedral so Popular?

St Paul’s Cathedral London is a highly-acclaimed architectural landmark, annually it attracts around 1.7 million visitors. The cathedral can comfortably accommodate up to 3500 guests at one time. The imposing architecture of the building and the stunning views from its dome are must-see attractions in London.

How do you get to St Paul’s Cathedral?

St Paul’s Cathedral is located in the City of London and with its amazing architecture it’s hard to miss. It has a tube station named after it, St Paul’s and it is the closest one to the church. There are several bus stops around the cathedral and it is on the route of the sightseeing buses. The river Thames is nearby with a Millenium Bridge connecting you to Tate Modern.

St Paul's Cathedral seen from the bridge to the Tate modern

Can you take photos in St Pauls Cathedral?

Yes, you can. During sightseeing hours visitors are permitted to take photographs of the main cathedral floor, the crypt and the galleries. Videos and selfie sticks are not permitted anywhere in the church.

How long does it take to tour St Paul’s Cathedral?

It takes around 90 minutes to view the whole church. If you wish to climb the dome and enjoy the view from different galleries it may take you slightly longer. Don’t forget you can also enjoy a snack in the popular cafe in the crypt. 

What are your Special Tips for visiting?

St Paul’s Cathedral London, is a living and working church, so prior to a visit it is advisable to check the online schedule, showing possible closures and events.

It is possible to attend a private prayer or take part in the more popular Evensong. Evensong is the afternoon/evening choral service. The Choire performs throughout the service accompanied by the grand organ. It’s an experience loved by locals as well as tourists.

Are there toilets at St Paul’s?

Yes, there are toilet facilities down in the crypt. The crypt is accessible from both inside and outside the Church. 

Can I visit St Paul’s Cathedral for private prayer?

St Paul’s offers a daily schedule of services that are open for anybody, free of charge. If you arrive outside those hours, there is a side chapel reserved for private prayer. Speak with the staff who will direct you to the chapel. 

Practical information

It is not possible for people to bring a bag larger than the following dimensions (45 cm x 30 cm x 25cm)

St Paul's spectacular high Altar

General Queries about seeing St Paul’s Cathedral

Where in London is St Paul’s Cathedral?

St Paul’s Cathedral is located in the City of London, at the top of Ludgate Hill. Surrounded by the financial district, it is an architectural gem amongst the modern buildings. With its protected views, the Cathedral can be seen from various vantage points and serves as a good navigation point.

Is St Paul’s Cathedral worth seeing?

Yes, is the short answer. Not only is it a spectacular Church but the architecture is second to none. The Cathedral is very spacious inside and offers something for everybody, from art for the art lovers to spectacular structures for the inquisitive engineer.  

Is St Paul’s Cathedral included in the London Pass?

Yes, you can use the London Pass when visiting the church. To make the most of your pass you can arrive by boat, the pier is nearby and called “Blackfriars”.

What are the top things to see at St Paul’s Cathedral?

  • The Galleries (golden gallery, stone gallery and whispering gallery)
  • The Knights bachelor chapel
  • OBE Chapel
  • The American Chapel
  • St Paul’s churchyard
  • The Cathedral’s magnificent domes
  • The Light of the World Painting
St Paul's among the London skyline

What is the difference between St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey?

St Paul’s Cathedral is the principal church of the diocese of London, with a bishop and a dean leading the church. Westminster Abbey, on the other hand, started as a monastery and has always been linked with Royalty. It is a “Royal Peculiar,” meaning it’s under the jurisdiction of the monarch.

Of course, we think both are worth visiting!

Take a look at our Westminster Abbey Tour for more details on this extraordinary London landmark

What famous events have taken place here?

St Paul’s Cathedral is the most famous and iconic cathedral in London. It has been used as a backdrop for many major events throughout history, including the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer and Winston Churchill’s funeral. The wedding attracted over a million spectators, who lined the processional route from Clarence House to the City of London and its St Paul’s Cathedral.

St Paul’s was even damaged during World War II Blitz but still managed to remain an enduring symbol of resilience. It was Sir Winston Churchill who said that St Paul’s Cathedral must be saved at all costs.

More recent events include service for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2012 and the funeral of Margaret Thatcher in 2013.

Why did Prince Charles get married at St Paul’s Cathedral?

What do you do when you have lots of guests to invite to your wedding? You hire a larger venue, of course! Put simply St Paul’s Cathedral can accommodate more guests than Westminster Abbey.

Can anyone get married at St Paul’s Cathedral?

The easy answer is no, if however, you have special family connections to the cathedral then you might just be in luck!

Which is taller Westminster Abbey or St Pauls Cathedral?

St Paul’s cathedral takes the victory here totalling a height of 111m (365ft) versus Westminster Abbey at 69m (225ft). However we think that both fit beautifully in their surroundings, take a look for yourself and see what you think when you visit.

The dome of St Paul's as seen from below

Our favourite St Paul’s Cathedral features

Room for great views: The Magnificent Cathedral Dome

St Paul’s Cathedral is known for its dome, in fact, three domes in one structure. The inner dome can be viewed from the inside and it is beautifully decorated with paintings by Sir James Thornhill.

The middle dome is a cone-shaped structure made of bricks holding the weight of the lantern.

The outer dome is the one visible from the outside and it is the one that can be climbed. It takes 528 steps to reach the Golden Gallery that offers marvellous views of the City of London and beyond. It can be a challenge to climb the top and it is not recommended for anybody with claustrophobia.

The Stone gallery which is bellow still offers good views and it is much more spacious than the Golden one.

The first gallery to enter is the spectacular whispering gallery, some 259 steps above the Cathedral floor. It is an acoustic phenomenon. Whisper something to the wall and it can be heard around the gallery.

It is thought that inspiration for the domes may have come from st peter’s basilica in Rome, famous for Michelangelo’s dome.

Visit American Memorial Chapel And Book of Names

Hidden behind the High Altar is a beautiful American Memorial Chapel. The chapel was built after World War II and it commemorates all the American soldiers that were stationed in the United Kingdom. The Chapel is relatively small but is packed with American symbolism, in the stained glass windows and wood carvings.

Part of the Chapel is the Roll of Honour, a book with names of deceased soldiers. The pages of the book are turned every day and it takes 14 months to go through the whole book. There is a copy of the book available for research.

Exterior & St Paul

St Paul’s Cathedral in London boasts stunning exteriors. Looking at the west front of the cathedral you are welcomed by the two Baroque towers with a large pediment in the middle. The pediment depicts the conversion of Sal to the Christian faith. The cathedral is dedicated to St Paul whose statue proudly sits on top of the pediment.

The West towers are home to the bells, Great Tom and Great Paul. Great Paul is the largest bell cast in England.

Below the bell towers are the great west doors. The main large oak door is open only for special occasions whereas the side doors are for everyday use.

The Crypt

The crypt of St Paul’s is one of the largest in the UK, it follows the floorplan of the cathedral. It is the final resting place of many famous people, from artists to military heroes. The crypt also contains two models, one is the current building the other is the old St Paul’s which was destroyed by the great fire of London. These models allow us the unique opportunity to compare these 2 buildings.

The Quire (Choir)

The choir is where the clergy sit during services, one space is reserved for the Bishop of London. The ornamental woodwork of the choir was carved by Grinling Gibbons, a highly skilled Dutch woodcarver. The choir was considered as perhaps his greatest achievement, he was paid nearly £3000 at the time (around £600,000 in today’s money!)

Take a stroll through the gardens and courtyards

In the courtyard you will see an impressive column that contains a gilded pillar of St Paul, it used to be called St Paul’s cross and was an important venue for public speaking in Tudor times. In front of the Church, you will find the statue of Queen Anne. Anne was on the throne during the years that building work at St Paul’s was completed.

Marvel at the monuments

St Paul has some 400 monuments. They are scattered around the main floor and the crypt, on the main floor you can find the tallest monument commemorating the Duke of Wellington.

Another memorial on the Cathedral floor celebrates the national hero Admiral Horatio Nelson. He is seen surrounded by the figure of Britannia, various sea Gods and a lion, each depicting an element of his character.

Finally, in the crypt, you will a memorial to Field Marshal Lord Kitchener. He died during World War I but is known famously for recruitment posters used in the early stages of the war.

The history of St Paul’s Cathedral

Looking towards the choir and high altar from the main cathedral floor

When was the original St Pauls cathedral built?

It is believed that there was a wooden church back in 604AD on the site of today’s St Paul’s. It was destroyed by a fire and subsequently, other parish churches grew on its site over the centuries.

It was the Old St Paul’s with its tall spire that became the iconic landmark of medieval London. Unfortunately, the Old St Paul’s Cathedral burnt down during the Great Fire of London in 1666.

How old is St. Paul’s Cathedral?

If you are including the various buildings that have been on the site then around 1400 years. If however, you are interested in the current building you can visit today, then just over 300 years.

Sir Christopher Wren

The Present Cathedral was designed by C.Wren after the Great Fire of London. Owing to its short construction time, Wren was also present during the “topping out” ceremony in 1708, when the Cathedral was completed. The Cathedral took only took 35 years to build, an impressive feat fro such a spectacular builiding.

What are some lesser-known facts about St Paul’s Cathedral?

  • Martin Luther King gave a sermon at the Church in 1964, the human rights activist was also a Baptist minister and spoke about the three dimensions to a complete life.
  • Christopher Wren, the Cathedrals architect, was the first person to be buried in the crypt.
  • The Cathedral houses a lot of art, including modern art ranging from paintings to video installations
  • The view as you enter the Cathedral of the spiral staircase is said to have inspired the staircase to Dumbledores office in the famous Harry Potter series.
  • The Cathedral has featured in many famous movies such as; Thor, Sherlock Holmes, Mary Poppins and Lawrence of Arabia

Is St Paul’s Cathedral catholic or protestant?

Given its ambiguous name, it can be hard to tell. Until the reformation St Paul’s used to be a Catholic Church, however since the 16th Century it has been an Anglican Church and as such is Protestant.

Who is Buried in St Paul’s Cathedral?

St Paul's Cathedral Tour with Let me show you London - St Paul's Cathedral dome with millennium bridge and River Thames in foreground
Wren

The Crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral is the last resting place for famous British individuals such as Architect Sir C.Wren. He was buried east of the crypt in a plain stone whose epitaph said: “Reader if you seek the memorial, look around you”

Nelson

Admiral Nelson is also buried in the crypt. He was killed at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The sarcophagus however was not meant for him. It was made originally for Cardinal Wolsey back in the 16th century. Unopened and unused it was stored at Windsor Castle until the time of the death of Admiral Nelson.

Wellington

Just next to Lord Nelson lies another national hero, the Duke of Wellington. The crypt also includes numerous graves and monuments of artists, scientists and musicians.

Spectacular St Paul's

We hope this answered all of your questions, so now you know everything about St Paul’s Cathedral! When you’re ready to visit, we would love to show you around. Feel free to peruse our London Tours to plan your journey in the city.

If you have any more questions about the Abbey, feel free to contact us.

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