Skip to content

At St Paul’s Cathedral In Old London

December 8, 2022
by the gentle author

If you fancy a bracing walk as a respite from the festivities, tickets are available for THE GENTLE AUTHOR’S TOUR OF SPITALFIELDS on Boxing Day.

Click here to buy GIFT VOUCHERS for The Gentle Author’s Tours – the ideal present for friends and family


At midnight on Christmas Eve, I find myself standing inside St Paul’s Cathedral among the the company of several thousand other souls. The vast interior space of the cathedral is a world unto itself when you are within it, as much landscape as architecture, yet when the great clock strikes twelve overhead, my thoughts are transported to the rain falling upon the empty streets in the dark city beyond. I am thinking of these lantern slides created a century ago by the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society for lectures at the Bishopsgate Institute.

Until 1962, St Paul’s was the tallest building in London and, in my perception of the city, it will always stand head and shoulders above everything else. Even before I saw it for myself, I already knew the shape of the monstrous dome from innumerable printed images and looming skyline appearances in films. Defying all competition, the great cranium of the dome contains a spiritual force that no other building in London can match.

A true wonder of architecture, St Paul’s never fails to induce awe when you return to it because the reality of its scale always surpasses your expectation – as if the mind itself cannot fully contain the memory of a building of such ambition and scale. No-one can deny the sense of order, with every detail sublimated to Sir Christopher Wren’s grand conception, yet the building defies you.

Although every aspect has its proportion and purpose, the elaborate intricacy expresses something beyond reason or logic. You are within the skull of a sleeping giant, dreaming the history of London, with its glittering panoply and dark episodes. The success of this building is to render everything else marginal, because when you are inside it you feel you are at the centre of the world.

Glass slides courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

You may also like to take a look at

The Lantern Slides of Old London

The Nights of Old London

The Signs of Old London

The Markets of Old London

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Mark permalink
    December 8, 2022

    How very apt. Yesterday ordered the £2 St Paul’s coin for my collection. Great timing. Super atmospheric photos Ta very much ducky

  2. December 8, 2022

    Wish I could come up with a more original phrase —- but sometimes the cliche just totally fits.

    Thus…………”Awe inspiring”.

  3. Molly Guenther permalink
    December 8, 2022

    Thank you. Your mention of the immensity and order of this space is calming; the quiet of a church is also evident in the pictures and brings peace. The architecture is grand.

  4. Maggie permalink
    December 9, 2022

    Just when you think you’ve seen sufficient pictures of St Paul’s, along come these wonderful latern slides!
    Captures so much atmosphere and historical meaning.
    Thank you for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS