A few weeks ago we were in London for an evening event but decided to drive up earlier in the afternoon to make the most of the day visiting somewhere new with the children. We had saved up our Tesco Clubcard vouchers and exchanged them for money off entry to St Paul’s Cathedral, somewhere the children had been asking to visit since our last weekend in London.
With a cathedral dedicated to St Paul being on the site for at least 1400 years, it has had a few rebuilds and the current cathedral, designed by the world renowned architect Sir Christopher Wren soon after the Great Fire of London in 1666, is still standing today. It stands at the heart of London and Dave and I had both visited it on school trips when we were younger, but we hadn’t been for maybe 25 years.
As a building that has dominated the ever changing London skyline, LP and Little Man have always been aware of St Pauls Cathedral and have always asked to visit. After visiting St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City recently, we thought that the time was right to grant their wish and show them the iconic church.
We found the entry point by the main steps and joined the non-ticket holders queue. After a quick bag search by staff we made our way inside to join another smaller queue to buy the actual tickets. There was a little initial confusion as the meeting point for escorted tours was also where the ticket queue was but we quickly figured it out and were soon paying for our family ticket. This included entry to all areas of the cathedral including the climb up the famous dome. We picked up a map and reminded the children to be on their best behaviour as the cathedral is still a place of worship.
The map took us around the highlights of the cathedral and across the cathedral floor with the Wellington Memorial, High Altar and the Grand Organ. We were able to stand directly under the middle of the dome and appreciate the magnificent architecture and detailing of the ceiling.
We soon found the entrance to the dome climb and were a little disappointed to learn that the famous Whispering Gallery was closed to the public at present, until at least December 2019. The Whispering gallery is the first part of the climb and is thirty meters from the cathedral floor and 257 steps up. Next on the climb is the Stone Gallery at fifty two meters up. This gallery is actually outside and gives some of the best panoramic views of London.
The final part of the dome climb is the Golden Gallery, eighty five meters and a total of 528 steps. Just before we emerged once again into the London air, we noticed a glass covered circle on the floor which turned out to be a view back down to the centre of the cathedral floor. It looked tiny and was hard to believe that we were down there looking up half an hour before. We then went outside again for more breathtaking views of London that never get old.
After making our way back down to the cathedral floor, we kept on going down into the crypt to see the tombs of many British historical figures that have helped to shape the nation. Florence Nightingale, Lord Horatio Nelson and Sir Christopher Wren amongst others. It is a room so steeped in history it’s hard not to get caught up in the atmosphere of the place. The exit from the crypt lead to a reasonable priced café and gift shop and some very clean toilets.
We spent around 2 hours in total at St Paul’s Cathedral but if you were to take your time and visit every single thing there is to see, you could spend a good portion of a day inside, learning about it all. It really is a lovely family day out.