Not the name of a person, Great Paul is in fact the name of the largest of four bells in south-west tower of St Paul’s Cathedral.
The bronze bell was cast in 1881 by JW Taylor of Taylor’s bell foundry in Loughborough. With a diameter of some 11 metres, it weighs an impressive 16.8 tons (in fact, until the casting of the Olympic Bell for the 2012 London Olympics, it was the largest bell in the UK).
Brought to London from Loughborough on a train over a period of 11 days, Great Paul was hung in the tower in May, 1882.
The bell was traditionally sounded at 1pm every day but was silent for more than 40 years after its ringing apparatus broke in the 1970s.
Following a restoration, Great Paul started being rung again last year when it was rung during a festival of church bells to mark the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Earlier this year, it led a bell ringing tribute marking Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.
Previous historic occasions on which the bell was rung included Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer at the cathedral in 1981.
The south-east tower of the cathedral is also home to the storied bell known as Great Tom – but we’ll deal with that in a future post.