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).

This Week in London – Photography and art at the Tate; punk’s 40th birthday; and, Sunday dome openings at St Paul’s…

proserpineThe “dynamic dialogue” between British painters and photographers is the subject of a new exhibition which opened at Tate Britain in Millbank this week. Painting with Light: Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Modern Age features almost 200 works, revealing their common influences and showing how photography adapted many of the “Old Master traditions” to create new works. Among those whose works are featured in the exhibition are everyone from David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson to JMW Turner, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rosetti and photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Highlights include examples of three-dimensional photography which used models and props to recreate popular works of the time, including a previously unseen private album in which the Royal Family re-enact famous paintings. Runs until 25th September in the Linbury Galleries. For more, see www.tate.org.uk. PICTURE: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882),  Proserpine 1874. Tate.

The 40th anniversary of punk is being commemorated in a new exhibition which opens at the British Library tomorrow. Punk 1976-78 traces the impact of punk from its roots in the French Situationist movement and New York City art-rock scene through to the rise and fall of the Sex Pistols and looks at the impact punk had on music, fashion and design in the mid-Seventies. Located in the library’s Entrance Hall Gallery, the free display – which includes materials from the UK’s biggest punk-related archive held at Liverpool John Moores University – features a rare copy of the Sex Pistol’s God Save the Queen single, fanzines such as the first punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue, flyers, posters and gig tickets from venues including the Roxy Club, Covent Garden and Eric’s Club, audio recordings, and original record sleeves such as John Peel’s personal copy of the Undertones’ single Teenage Kicks. There’s a full calendar of events to accompany the exhibition including John Lydon’s only live interview of the year. Runs until 2nd October. For more, see www.bl.uk/events/punk-1976-78.

Climb St Paul Cathedral’s dome on special Sunday openings during May. And in order not to disturb Sunday services, visitors who wish to climb to the dome’s Stone Gallery and Golden Gallery will see parts of the cathedral not normally open to the public as they enter through a not-normally used side door and climb 22 extra steps. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.stpauls.co.uk.

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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