Oxted & District History Society - Talk
Oxted & District History Society

A History of St Paul’s Cathedral by Christopher Allen


Christopher Allen, expert guide on St. Paul’s, gave an illustrated lecture to the Oxted & District History Society entitled ‘A History of St. Paul’s Cathedral’.

There have been a total of 5 different cathedrals on the site dating from 604.  The Norman cathedral was started in 1087 and completed in the Gothic style in 1320.  It had a tall spire which was destroyed by a lightning strike in 1561 and the rest was lost in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

The present cathedral in the English Baroque style was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who supervised its construction between 1675 and 1711.  It appears in several London views painted by Canaletto in the 1730s.  The dome features in an iconic photo dating from 1940, when nearly all the surrounding buildings were in flames and destroyed in the wartime blitz.  Two bombs hit the building but the damage was limited.  The Portland stonework on the outside of the cathedral experienced a £40M deep-clean between 1995 and 2011 and the inside stonework was similarly deep-cleaned between 2001 and 2005 at a cost of £11M.  As a result the cathedral is now in pristine condition.