Old Images of St Paul’s Cathedral, London

Categorised as City of London, London
South West view of Saint Paul's Cathedral, and Blackfriars Bridge 1810

Glimpse history through fascinating old images of St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

The famous St. Paul’s Cathedral standing today is very old. Construction started in 1675 to a design by Sir Christopher Wren. 35 years later, in 1710, the new Anglican cathedral was completed and began its long life of serving the local Church of England community.

But it stands on the site of the Old St Paul’s, which was consecrated in 1240 after almost two centuries of building. The construction took so long, in part thanks to a fire in 1135, that the style of the building changed from Romanesque to Gothic! And just 16 years later the next lengthy project started, as the building was enlarged over a number of decades.

Although a new west front was added to Old St Paul’s to a design by Inigo Jones, the site was badly used during the Cicil War and Commonwealth. The material from razed churchyard buildings was sent to be used in the construction of Somerset House, for example.

When the old St Paul’s was gutted in the Great Fire of London of 1666, the site was cleared ready for Sir Christopher Wren’s famous design we know and love today.


Bomb Damage WWII

As the Lufftewaffe dropped bombs and incendiary devices on London as part of the Blitz campaign of 1941, St. Paul’s Cathedral was hit on more than one occasion.

In this 1941 newsreel, we see how seriously the north transept was damaged, although apparently religious services were continuing in this very dangerous environment.

St. Paul’s bombed in 1941 (1941) – British Pathé on YouTube

The next newsreel is from 1944, and focuses on the work of the ARP guardians who spent their nights in the crypt, preparing to save the historic cathedral in the event of an air raid.

There are numerous shots of the nearby streets, which are literally cleared bombsites. It’s a reminder how much history was lost in this area from the incendiary fires, and how close the nation came to losing its great cathedral.

It’s a great shame that the many old pictures of the cathedral further down this page rarely include a glimpse of the buildings in the surrounding streets, since they disappeared in such tragic circumstances.

Guardians Of St Pauls Aka Guardians Of St Paul’s (1944) – British Pathé on YouTube


Roof Cleaning 1965

If you work in Health and Safety, this newsreel from 1965 will chill you to the bone.

And if you don’t like heights, DO NOT PRESS PLAY!

Workers clambered along the scaffolding of the cathedral roof, 365 feet high above the City of London, had no hard hards, gloves, or ropes to stop them falling.

Only waterproofs seem present, for those balanced on scaffolding poles as colleagues direct jets of water to the stonework with hosepipes.

If you can cope with the heights, this newsreel gives a nice aerial shot of the nearby streets as they were in 1965.

St. Paul’s New Face (1965) – British Pathé on YouTube


St Paul’s Cathedral Through Time

London: St Paul’s Cathedral Through Time (2021-1543): The Time Travel Artist


St Paul’s in the 1980s

For just a few seconds, we can see the streets and buildings around St Paul’s as they were in 1982, thanks to this silent footage recorded for local television news station.

City of London Aerials | St Paul’s Cathedral | Reporting London |1982 – ThamesTV on YouTube

On 14 September 1987, Thames tV broadcast a programme called “Two Cathedrals”. This clip without audio, just 47 seconds long, shows St Paul’s Cathedral, lots of tourists outside having a rest or eating, and a brief glimpse of nearby buildings.

St. Paul’s Cathedral | 1980s London | City of London | Two Cathedrals | 1987: ThamesTv


The Old St Paul’s

As explained above, the cathedral we know today was a replacement of a Norman building gutted by the Great Fire of London in 1666.

On 4th June 1561, the spire of Old St Paul’s was hit by lightning and the resulting fire caused the spire to crash through the nave roof. The irony was, the spire was the 1462 replacement for a previous spire which had also been destroyed by a lightning strike.

Here are a selection of pictures and book illustrations to show us what the long lost Norman building looked like.

Old document about St Paul's Cathedral 1658
A View of St. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL, before its SPIRE was destroyed by Lightning, published between 1750 and 1760
Old picture of Old St Pauls Cathedral London published 1886
Old picture of Old St Pauls London published 1873
The North Prospect of ye Cathedral Church of St. Paul's in London C 1672
Old book illustration of the West View of St Paul's Cathedral before the Fire of London published 1818
Old Picture of the Preacher Cross at St Pauls Cathedral London 1620
Old picture of the Preaching Cross at St Pauls London 1620
Old picture of the Chapter House at the old St Pauls Cathedral in London
St. Paul's after the fall of the Spire from a View by Hollar
Old picture of the Old St Pauls Cathedral published 1888

The New Cathedral

Old picture of wrens original design for st pauls cathedral in london
Old picture of the rebuilding of St pauls cathedral london

Old Pictures of St. Paul’s Cathedral

Pre-Victorian Era Pictures

The Chapter House of the Cathedrall Church of St Paul's London 1714-1716
Old picture of the North west view of St Paul's Cathedral London published around 1726
South East Prospect of the Cathedral of St Paul in London 1743
A North West View of St. Paul's Cathedral, London 1753
Old picture of the Choir of St Pauls Cathedral London before the removal of the screen
Old picture of Blackfriars Bridge and St Pauls Cathedral in London published 1801
Blackfriars Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral 1801
“VIEW of BLACKFRIARS BRIDGE and ST PAUL’S from the PATENT SHOT MANUFACTORY on the SOUTH SIDE of the RIVER” by Daniel Turner, published on 1st September 1803 by Laurie & Whittle, 53 Fleet Street, London, part of the Topographical Collection of George III archive held by the British Library
St Paul's Cathedral with Lord Mayor's Show on the Water 1804
Old picture of St Pauls Cathedral in London published 1804
Old picture of the annual meetig of the charity children at St pauls cathedral london published 1804
Old picture of the South east view of Saint Paul's Cathedral, published in 1818
Old picture of St Pauls Cathedral London 1826
Old panoramic view of london from the top of St Paul's Cathedral London 1829
Old picture of St Pauls Cathedral London published 1829
Old picture of st pauls cathedral london from the thames published 1834

Early Victorian Era Pictures

Old picture of Blackfriars Bridge and St Pauls Cathedral London published 1841
Old picture of the Mayors Coach in London with St Pauls Cathedral in the background published 1846
Old picture of St Pauls Cathedral London 1846

Late Victorian Era Pictures

Old picture of st pauls cathedral in london published 1854
Old picture of the exterior of St Pauls Cathedral London published 1855
Old picture of St Pauls Cathedral in London published in 1856
Old book illustration of St Paul's Cathedral London published 1862
Old picture of st pauls cathedral in london from the thames
Old picture of St pauls cathedral in london published 1872
Old picture of St Pauls Cathedral London in a busy street published 1872
Old picture of St Pauls Cathedral London England published 1879
Old picture of st pauls cathedral london from Blackfriars Bridge published 1884
Old picture of the eastern end of St Pauls Cathedral london published 1884
Old picture of the Western End of St Pauls Cathedral London published 1884
Old picture of St Pauls Cathedral London published 1888
St Paul's from Maiden Lane 1893

Old Photos of St Paul’s Cathedral

Old photo of the entrance to St Pauls Cathedral London published 1897
Old photo of St Pauls Cathedral 1899

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