10 of the most memorable (and historic) views of London – 1. View from St Paul’s Cathedral’s dome…

We kick off a new series this week looking at 10 of most memorable (and historic) views of London and to kick it off, we’re looking at the views from one of London’s most prominent historic institutions, St Paul’s Cathedral.

There are two external galleries at St Paul’s – the first is the Stone Gallery which stands at 173 feet (53.4 metres) above ground level. Encircling the dome, it is reached, via a route which takes the visitor through the internal Whispering Gallery, upon climbing some 378 steps.

Located above it, encircling the cathedral’s famous lantern (which sits on top of the dome), is the Golden Gallery. It stands some 280 ft (85.4 metres) above the cathedral floor, and can be reached by a climb of 528 steps.

From it – and the Stone Gallery below it – can be seen panoramic views of the City of London and across the Thames to Southwark.

The lantern above, meanwhile, weighs some 850 tonnes and on its top sits a golden ball and cross – the current ball and cross, which weigh about seven tonnes, were put there in 1821, replacing the original ball and cross which had been erected in 1708.

St Paul’s Cathedral was the tallest building in London from 1710 into the 1960s (when it was surpassed by Millbank Tower and what is now known as the BT Tower). Sir Christopher Wren’s St Paul’s is not as tall as the original medieval cathedral which reportedly had a spire reaching 489 feet (149 metres) into the sky compared to St Paul’s as it is now, standing to a height of some 365 feet (111.3 metres) above ground level.

WHERE: St Paul’s Cathedral, St Paul’s Churchyard (nearest tube station is St Paul’s); WHEN: The galleries are open from 9.30am to 4.15pm, Monday to Saturday; COST: £18 an adult/£16 concessions and students/£8 a child (6-18 years)/£44 a family of four; WEBSITE: www.stpauls.co.uk

PICTURES: Top – Looking up at the lantern with the Golden Gallery around the base; Below – View looking west from St Paul’s down Fleet Street (the spires of St Brides and St Dunstan-in-the-West can be seen).

Around London – The ‘Line of Kings’ has a makeover; London captured from St Paul’s; and, cycles at the Museum of London…


The Tower of London’s iconic exhibition, the Line of Kings, has had a makeover. Described as the “world’s longest running visitor attraction”, the Line of Kings features more than 500 objects including historic suits of armour – such as those worn by King Henry VIII, King Charles I and King James II – as well as life-sized wooden horses and individually carved king’s heads, many of which were made between 1685 and 1690. The exhibition was originally created following the Restoration in 1660 and was used as propaganda to promote the king’s rule (interestingly omitting queens and featuring only those deemed “good kings”). Rearranged and dispersed over the centuries, it’s been brought back together in the White Tower and reopened last month. Entry to the exhibition – a collaboration between Historic Royal Palaces and the Royal Armouries – is free as part of general admission to the Tower. For more, check out www.royalarmouries.org/line-of-kings. PICTURE: HRP/Newsteam

Four cameras mounted on top of St Paul’s Cathedral’s Golden Gallery have captured a 360 degree time lapse video of the capital. The video, which was shot in early July, captured 36 hours in the life of London and is the work of specialist photographer Henry Stuart who previously completed two projects from the Golden Gallery – a GigaPixel image of London and a Day Meets Night image. The latest project captured some 8,000 panoramic images. The time lapse video, which is set to Kyrie from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Missa in C major ‘Missa solemnis’ K337 being sung by the St Paul’s Cathedral Choir, can be found at http://visualise.com/videos/london-360-time-lapse-from-st-pauls-cathedral.

• On Now: London Cycles. This free exhibition at the Museum of London looks at cycling in the capital with highlights including 10 large scale portraits by Ugo Gattoni, bikes including an 1880s “boneshaker”, a penny farthing, an 1930s Enfield cycle and a ‘Boris’ bike as well as head cam footage from riders including from the annual Tweed Run bike. The free display runs until 22nd September. For more, see www.museumoflondon.org.uk.

Treasures of London – The Whispering Gallery, St Paul’s Cathedral

Found 98 feet (30 metres) above the cathedral’s floor, the Whispering Gallery at London’s iconic St Paul’s Cathedral is an architectural marvel.

As with other “whispering galleries” found around the world, its construction is such that something whispered into the wall on one side of the gallery, which runs around the interior of the cathedral’s inner dome (part of the first ever ‘triple dome’), can be heard on the other side of the gallery, around 100 feet (30 metres) away.

The dome (pictured right), the design of which draws inspiration from that of St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, was constructed to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren. The cathedral, including the dome, was essentially completed in 1708.

As well as giving views down into the cathedral, the Whispering Gallery – a relatively easy climb of only 257 steps – also provides a close-up view of murals painted on the dome’s inner surface by Sir James Thornhill. Painted between 1715 and 1719, these depict images from St Paul’s life.

Two further galleries on the dome are also publicly accessible – the Stone Gallery, which stands 173 feet (53.4 metres) above the cathedral floor, and the Golden Gallery, which stands 280 feet (85.4 metres) above the cathedral floor and offers stunning views of the city as well as southward over the Thames. But be prepared for a long climb – 528 steps – up what are in places narrow, winding staircases.

The current ball and cross on top of the dome date from 1821 (these replaced those which had first topped the cathedral). Together they stand 23 feet (seven metres) high and weigh seven tonnes.

WHERE: St Paul’s Cathedral, St Paul’s Churchyard (nearest tube station is St Paul’s); WHEN: The galleries are open from 9.30am to 4.15pm, Monday to Saturday (small children must be accompanied by an adult)/Cathedral is open from 8.30am;  COST: £14.50 an adult/£13.50 concessions and students/£5.50 a child (6-18 years)/£34.50 a family of four; WEBSITE: www.stpauls.co.uk