Lost London – Old St Paul’s Chapterhouse…

November 30, 2012

We’re yet to take an in-depth look at Old St Paul’s Cathedral – that is, the building that stood on the existing site before being destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 – but today we thought we’d focus on just one aspect of the former church – the old chapterhouse. 

Located in the South Churchyard on the Thames side of St Paul’s Cathedral, the location of the chapterhouse is today marked out by raised stonework (the actual building remains lay a few feet below) which can be freely accessed from the street.

The octagonal chapterhouse, which replaced an earlier chapterhouse, stood in the middle of a 100 foot square arcaded cloister, both of which were designed by the royal mason, William Ramsay, in 1332 during the reign of King Edward III, in one of the first known examples of what is referred to as the ‘Perpendicular Gothic’ style.

Designed as a two-storey building for better air circulation, the actual chapter room was located on the second floor of the chapterhouse over an undercroft below and it was here the monks would meet daily to discuss affairs relating to the cathedral (the word chapterhouse comes from the fact that it was while in this room the monks would be a read a daily chapter from the body of rules governing them).

The marked out chapterhouse (pictured above – the chairs are standing inside the chapterhouse) was unveiled in 2008 following a £3.8 million redevelopment of the South Churchyard, itself part of the bigger, recently completed, overhaul of the entire cathedral).

WHERE: South Churchyard, St Paul’s Cathedral (nearest tube station is St Paul’s); WHEN: Anytime;  COST: Free  (to go inside the cathedral costs £15 an adult/£14 concessions and students/£6 a child (6-18 years)/£36 a family of four); WEBSITE: www.stpauls.co.uk

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