15-year, £40 million wait is over as St Paul's Cathedral completes works for 300th birthday

By Culture24 Staff | 22 June 2011
  • Archived article
A photo of the dome outside of a stone cathedral
The 15-year campaign to spruce up St Paul's Cathedral has ended in style with a 300th anniversary service
© Peter Smith
It’s 300 years since Sir Christopher Wren completed the cathedral which would host the funerals of Admiral Nelson and Churchill, and the building has spent the past 15 of them swathed in scaffolding.

From the peristyle and lift facilities to a rebuild of Wren’s original railings in the gardens and an installation showing short films about the cathedral in the former Treasury, this has been an almighty facelift for the holy landmark.

A photo of an urchin face sculpted in the white stone brick wall of a cathedral
Cherubs on transepts await visitors to the site of Nelson's funeral© Sue Salton Photography
“It has been a privilege and an extraordinary experience,” says Martin Stancliffe, who has overseen the craftsmen and conservators behind a resurrection.

“This great building is now in a sound state, and probably looks better than at any time since its completion in 1711.

A photo of a stone sculpture of an urchin's head on the wall of a cathedral
The north transept
© Sue Salton Photography
A service held yesterday (June 21 2011) to celebrate the anniversary took place within view of a west front which now soars above Ludgate Hill.

Once blackened and damaged, it shares revitalised exposure with an interior of mosaics, carvings and sculpture now flooded by light.

A photo of a man working on a stone wall of a cathedral
Skilled stonemasons have repointed the features
© Sue Salton Photography
The Dean of St Paul’s, Reverend Graeme Knowles, says he is “thrilled” with the results.

“The two million worshippers, pilgrims and visitors who come to St Paul’s each year can now witness Wren’s original vision and see the cathedral as fresh as the day it was completed,” he adds.
  • A special Anniversary Photography Competition will run until July 16 2011.

    Photographers are invited to submit their best exterior shots of the building, and the ten winning images will be displayed in the cathedral crypt.

    The overall winner will also win one of an exclusive edition of 25 glass vases specially made to celebrate the anniversary.
    Visit the competition Flickr group to enter, or visit www.stpauls.co.uk/photocomp for more details.
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