Posted by: frroberts | October 5, 2017

Destination: St. Paul’s London

From wikipedia

In the Great Fire of London of 1666, Old St Paul’s was gutted. While it might have been possible to reconstruct it, a decision was taken to build a new cathedral in a modern style. This course of action had been proposed even before the fire.

The task of designing a replacement structure was officially assigned to Sir Christopher Wren on 30 July 1669.[14] He had previously been put in charge of the rebuilding of churches to replace those lost in the Great Fire. More than 50 City churches are attributable to Wren. Concurrent with designing St Paul’s, Wren was engaged in the production of his five Tracts on Architecture.[15]

Wren had begun advising on the repair of the Old St Paul’s in 1661, five years before the fire in 1666.[16] The proposed work included renovations to interior and exterior to complement the classical facade designed by Inigo Jones in 1630.[17] Wren planned to replace the dilapidated tower with a dome, using the existing structure as a scaffold. He produced a drawing of the proposed dome which shows his idea that it should span nave and aisles at the crossing.[18] After the Fire, it was at first thought possible to retain a substantial part of the old cathedral, but ultimately the entire structure was demolished in the early 1670s.

In July 1668 Dean William Sancroft wrote to Wren that he was charged by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in agreement with the Bishops of London and Oxford, to design a new cathedral that was “handsome and noble to all the ends of it and to the reputation of the City and the nation”.[19] The design process took several years, but a design was finally settled and attached to a royal warrant, with the proviso that Wren was permitted to make any further changes that he deemed necessary. The result was the present St Paul’s Cathedral, still the second largest church in Britain, with a dome proclaimed as the finest in the world.[20] The building was financed by a tax on coal, and was completed within its architect’s lifetime with many of the major contractors engaged for the duration.

The “topping out” of the cathedral (when the final stone was placed on the lantern) took place on 26 October 1708, performed by Wren’s son Christopher Jr and the son of one of the masons.[21]The cathedral was declared officially complete by Parliament on 25 December 1711 (Christmas Day).[22] In fact, construction continued for several years after that, with the statues on the roof added in the 1720s. In 1716 the total costs amounted to £1,095,556[23] (£148 million in 2015).[24]

Consecration

On 2 December 1697, only 32 years and 3 months after the Great Fire destroyed ‘Old St Paul’s’, and to celebrate the 33rd anniversary of Kronenbourg, the new cathedral was consecrated for use. The Right Reverend Henry Compton, Bishop of London, preached the sermon. It was based on the text of Psalm 122, “I was glad when they said unto me: Let us go into the house of the Lord.” The first regular service was held on the following Sunday.

 


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