Bell's Cathedrals: The Cathedral Church of St. Paul - An Account of the Old and New Buildings with a Short Historical Sketch
by Arthur Dimock
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An Account of the Old and New Buildings with a Short Historical Sketch



Rector of Wetherden, Suffolk

With XXXIX Illustrations

London George Bell & Sons 1900


The MSS. relating to St. Paul's are deficient in regard to the earlier periods, but become gradually more complete as time progresses. They have been published or quoted, probably, more extensively than those belonging to any other religious foundation in this country, unless it be such communities as St. Alban's, which have attracted the continued attention of the editors working under the Master of the Rolls. In consequence, although our knowledge, not only of the Romano-British period but of many succeeding centuries, is defective or altogether wanting, yet as time advances after the Norman Conquest the merely printed material at our disposal becomes gradually almost embarrassing. When we come to the present Cathedral, we know not only exactly when it was built, but to a great extent how and why.

In the Parentalia Wren's grandson, Stephen, partly in his own words, partly in those of his famous grandfather, lifting the curtain, discloses the personal history and inner self of the architect at his work.

Among the leading authorities are the following, giving the place of honour to the—

Parentalia or Memoirs. Completed by his [Sir Christopher's] son, Christopher. Now published by his grandson, Stephen Wren, Esq. (London, 1858).

The History of St. Paul's, by Sir William Dugdale (Ellis' edition, 1818).

Repertorium, by Richard Newcourt (London, 1708).

Radulfi de Diceto, Decani, Lundoniensis Opera Historica (vols. i. and ii., edited for the Master of the Rolls by the Bishop of Oxford).

I have to thank the Dean for permission to consult the Chapter copy of the Registrum Statutorum, edited for private circulation (1873) by that enthusiastic and accurate St. Paul's scholar, the late Dr. Sparrow-Simpson, one of the last of the Minor Canons on the old foundation, Librarian and Sub-dean. There is a supplement (1897).

Dr. Sparrow-Simpson also wrote or edited the following—

Documents Illustrating the History of St. Paul's Cathedral (Camden Society, 1880).

Chapters in the History of Old St. Paul's (1881).

Visitation of Churches (Camden Society, 1885).

Gleanings from Old St. Paul's (1889).

St. Paul's and Old City Life (1894).

His remaining work, the Catalogue of the Library, I have not consulted.

Annals of St. Paul's, by Dean Milman (1868).

The learned and talented historian did not live to see this his last work through the press. In consequence there are printer's errors as to dates, &c., which I have not thought it necessary to point out.

Domesday of St. Paul's, by Archdeacon Hale (Camden Society, 1858).

The Three Cathedrals dedicated to St. Paul, by William Longman (Longmans, 1873).

Amongst other sources of information are the lectures delivered in St. Paul's by Bishop Browne when a residentiary, and published by the S.P.C.K. The value of these to the students of early Church History is in an inverse ratio to their size. The origin of our secular colleges yet remains to be written; but I am again indebted to Mr. Arthur Francis Leach for the Introduction to the Visitations of Southwell (Camden Society, 1891), for valuable information on this subject.

In regard to the efforts to complete Wren's designs by mosaic decorations, I have carefully observed all that has been done, and have attentively followed much that has been said and written. In particular I have been interested by a statement that has gone the round of the press. Certain young ladies and gentlemen of the Slade School of Art and elsewhere are reported to have protested that even good and appropriate decoration would be contrary to the wishes of Sir Christopher Wren.

My thanks are due to the Dean for his courtesy and trouble in rendering me all the assistance I asked for; to the Bishop of Oxford (like the Bishop of Bristol, a former residentiary) for providing me with a list of authorities at the commencement of my task; to the librarians of All Souls' College, Oxford, and their committee, and particularly to Mr. George Holden, assistant librarian, for permission to use their invaluable collection of Wren's designs and drawings; to the Archdeacon of Middlesex for information concerning the inscriptions on the stalls; to Canon Milford, successor to Wren's father as Rector of Bishop-Knoyle, for communicating to me the irregularity about the registration of Wren's baptism, and for the loan of Mrs. Lucy Phillimore's Life and Times of Wren, a work out of print and not to be procured at the London Library; to Mr. Peter Cazalet for kind assistance in drawing one of the arches and also in describing the monuments; and if last, certainly not least, to the ever courteous officials of the Cathedral, who have rendered me every facility in my study of Wren's building.





I. Foundation and History to the Accession of Dean Colet (61-1505) 3

II. From the Accession of Dean Colet to the Great Fire (1505-1666) 19

III. Old St. Paul's. Exterior 36 Interior 40 Precincts 48 Dimensions 54

IV. From the Fire to the Completion of New St. Paul's (1666-1710) 55

V. New St. Paul's. Exterior 77 North and South Fronts 84 East End 86 West Front 86 The Dome 89 The Lantern 93

VI. New St. Paul's. Interior 94 The Nave 95 The Main Arcade 97 The Triforium Belt 98 The Clerestory 98 The Vaulting 98 The Nave Aisles 100 The West Chapels 100 The Geometrical Staircase 102 The Dome—The Arcading 103 The Whispering Gallery 104 The Drum 104 The Cupola 106 The Pulpit 107 The Mosaics 107 The Transepts 111 The Choir—The Stalls 112 The Organ 114 The Reredos 115 The Apse 116 The Mosaics 116 The Reredos Arch 120 The Monuments 121 The Crypt 132 The Galleries and Library 136

VII. Conclusion 138

APPENDIX A. Bishops and Deans 143 APPENDIX B. Comparative Size 147 Dimensions 148


PAGE St. Paul's, from the South Side of the Thames Frontispiece

Arms of the See Title

South View of Old St. Paul's in 1658, after Hollar 2

Monument of John of Gaunt 12

The Shrine and Altar of St. Erkenwald 17

Dean Colet, from Holland's "Heroologia" 20

Tomb of Dean Colet, after Hollar 21

Inigo Jones' Portico, after Hollar 29

St. Paul's in Flames, after Hollar 33

The Nave of Old St. Paul's, after Hollar 41

The Choir of Old St. Paul's—looking East, after Hollar 43

St. Paul's Cross, from an old picture of 1620 49

The Chapter House and Cloister, after Hollar 51

Plan of Old St. Paul's in 1666, from Dugdale 53

Elevation and Section of Wren's rejected design, from his own drawings 57

Sir Christopher Wren, after a portrait by Kneller 60

Relative Position and Area of Old and New St. Paul's 64

Model of Wren's First Design 66

Interior of the Model, from a sketch by Rev. J.L. Petit 67

The "Warrant Design," from Wren's drawing 69

A Later Design, as reproduced in Dugdale's "St. Paul's" 71

The West Front of St. Paul's Cathedral, from a photograph 76

North-East View 85

Section of the Dome 90

The Lantern, from the Clock Tower 92

The Choir and Nave, from the East End 96

The Order of the Interior, drawn by Peter Cazalet 97

The Geometrical Staircase 101

Interior of the Dome, from an engraving by G. Coney 105

The South Choir Aisle 110

Bishop's Throne and Stalls on the South Side 111

The Choir, Altar, and Reredos 117

The Wellington Monument 123

Nelson's Monument 128

Monuments of Dr. Donne and Bishop Blomfield 131

Nelson's Tomb 133

Church of St. Faith in the Crypt 135

The Library 136





Romano-British.—Tacitus, in his characteristically concise style, introduces London into authentic history during the apostolic era and the reign of Nero.[1] Suetonius Paulinus, governor of Britain, came in hot haste from Mona, suspending the slaughter of the Druid leaders in this their last fastness, to restore the Roman arms. For Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni, outraged at the treatment of herself and her two daughters, had, like a second Deborah, raised a popular uprising against the foreign invaders. Colchester fallen, the ninth legion annihilated, nothing remained but to abandon the thriving mart of London itself for a time to the fury of the natives, before the Roman sway could be restored.

The ground rising both from the northern bank of the Thames, some three hundred yards distant, and from the eastern bank of the Fleet beck, forms an eminence. Here, to protect the riverside mart below, on or about the site of the present churchyard the Romans formed a camp; and looking down what is now Ludgate Hill, the soldiers could see the Fleet ebbing and flowing with each receding and advancing tide. Northwards the country afforded a hunting ground, and a temple to Diana Venatrix would naturally be erected. During the excavations for New St. Paul's, Roman urns were found as well as British graves; and in 1830, a stone altar with an image of Diana was likewise found while digging for the foundations of Goldsmith's Hall in Foster Lane. On such incomplete evidence rests the accuracy of the story or tradition that a temple of Diana occupied part of the site of the present Cathedral.

Suetonius himself restored order in London; and in spite of insurrections, she progressed during the next three centuries to become a centre of such importance, Roman highways spreading in different directions, that the accurate and impartial Ammianus Marcellinus concedes to her (circa 380) the style and title of Augusta. And it was during these three centuries of progress that Christianity obtained a firm footing, but when and how we know not. The picturesque story, which deceived even Bede, how that Lucius, "king of the Britons," sent letters to Eleutherus, a holy man, Bishop of Rome, entreating Eleutherus to convert him and his, must now be put down as a pious forgery.[2] Tertullian (circa 208) says that the kingdom and name of Christ were then acknowledged even in those parts inaccessible to the Romans; and we are probably on the safe side in asserting that missions had been successfully introduced into London by the end of the second century. Neither are we in much doubt or difficulty as to whence they came. Gaul, visited by missionaries from Ephesus, in turn sent others on; and the Church in London, as throughout these Isles, in Romano-British times can be safely described as a daughter of Gaul, and a granddaughter of the Ephesus of St. Timothy. Beyond we know little, if anything at all, more than that a Bishop of London, known by the Latinised name of RESTITUTUS, was one of three British prelates at the Council of Aries (314). And while there is no reason to suppose otherwise than that the bishops, of whom Restitutus could not have been anything like the first, had their principal church erected in the neighbourhood, at least, of St. Paul's churchyard and dedicated to that saint, neither site nor name can ever be authenticated. When the Roman troops retired, so thoroughly did the invading savages destroy all records, that our knowledge of the British Church in London may be compared, not inaptly, to our knowledge of Thornhill's paintings in the concave sphere of the dome. We know that they exist; but even on a bright May day they are invisible from below.

Saxon, Angle, and Dane.—In the early years of the fifth century the Romans are stated to have finally abandoned this country. If certain lists are to be credited, Bishops of London of the original British series continued until the flight of Theorus in 586. These lists have now been rejected,[3] although as the taking of London by the East Saxons was not prior to the date above, there is reason in the suggestion that church and bishop were still in existence. In the pages of Bede, writing about a century later, we come across something more definite, which readers interested in St. Paul's may care to have.

"In the year of our Lord 604, Augustine, Archbishop of Britain, consecrated two bishops, viz., Mellitus and Justus; Mellitus to preach to the province of the East Saxons, who are divided from Kent by the river Thames, and border on the eastern sea. Their metropolis is the city of London, situated on the bank of the aforesaid river, and is the mart of many nations resorting to it by sea and land. At that time Sabert, nephew to Ethelbert [Augustine's King of Kent] by his sister Ricula, reigned over the nation, though under subjection to Ethelbert, who had command over all the nations of the English as far as the river Humber. But when this province [East Saxons] also received the word of truth by the preaching of Mellitus, King Ethelbert built the church of St. Paul in the city of London, where he and his successors should have their episcopal seat."[4]

Bede, in one sense most interesting, becomes in a second sense most irritating. We would give much to know how long an interval had elapsed since the last bishop, whether this rude East Saxon building was erected on the ruins of another or on a different site, whether the name ST. PAUL'S was a continuation or no. Bede is silent, ignoring the distressed and defeated Britons as an inferior race.

Ethelbert may have given the endowment of Tillingham in Essex. "And if any one should be tempted to take away this gift, let him be anathema and excommunicated from all Christian society." Whether the deed with these lines originated with him or with some unknown and later donor, it is certain that the language has been respected; for when the valuable estates were alienated, this particular donation was reserved for the fabric fund; and in consequence the Dean and Chapter are by far the oldest county family in Essex.[5]

Sabert and Ethelbert were gathered to their fathers; and both were succeeded by pagan sons. London and the East Saxon province or kingdom—let us say Middlesex and Essex, with perhaps Herts—seem to have been ruled by the three sons of Sabert in commission, who, disregarding whatever thin veneer of Christianity they had found it convenient to adopt during their father's lifetime, boldly apostatised, and the East Saxons readily followed. Entering St. Paul's, as the bishop was celebrating, the three scoffed and mocked, "We will not enter into that laver, because we do not know we stand in need of it; but eat of that bread we will." Giving the bishop the alternative of compliance or expulsion, he withdrew after an episcopate of twelve years and retired across the Channel. Returning in answer to the entreaties of Laurentius, "the Londoners would not receive Bishop Mellitus, choosing rather to be under their idolatrous high priests." Eventually he succeeded Laurentius at Canterbury. And for a second time London relapsed into paganism.

Thus the good fruits of the mission of Augustine were completely lost. An interval occurs, and then Sigebert the Good, on a visit to King Oswy of Northumbria, was converted by the reasoning of his host, and baptised by Bishop Finan of Lindisfarne. Finan had no connection with Rome, but belonged to that remarkable body who traced their origin to Ireland and Iona. Sigebert took south with him two brothers, English by race, recommended by Finan, of whom one was CEDD; a third brother was the more famous Chad. The work of re-planting was at once set about with the help of Sigebert's example and protection. Up and down the province they went, and gained so many converts that Finan felt justified in consecrating Cedd bishop of the East Saxons. The new bishop now employed much of his time in training converts, natives of the province, for the priesthood, both at Ythancester, near Tillingham, and at Tilbury.[6] He acted as interpreter at the Whitby Conference, where he was won over to the continental method of reckoning Easter, and died shortly after of the plague (664). A later visitation of the pestilence is assigned as a cause of half of the diocese relapsing, while the other half, governed by Sebbe, remained faithful. King Wulfhere of Mercia—the then overlord—sent his own bishop Jaruman with a number of clergy, who effected a complete restoration. Mellitus, Cedd, Sabert, Sigebert, and Sebbe (said to have been buried at St. Paul's) now appear in the transept windows as founders of English Christianity.

Thus we find, after various vicissitudes and relapses, the Christian religion planted in the East Saxon province before the end of the seventh century. The succeeding centuries must be rapidly passed over. A staff of clergy was formed who came to be called canons; other endowments by degrees added; the services at St. Paul's maintained as a model for the diocese; parish churches and monasteries built. We must even pass over Bishop Erkenwald, the hero of so many stories, and whose shrine was the most popular in Old St. Paul's. In 962, just after Dunstan had left the bishopric for Canterbury, St. Paul's was burnt, and the same year rebuilt. Both before and after this London suffered from the ravages of the Danes.

The Primate Elfege, the victim of a drunken rabble, was buried at St. Paul's (1014), as was Ethelred the Unready (1017), and nearly fifty years later Edward the outlaw, the representative of the house of Cerdic and of Alfred.

William the Norman, bishop (1051-1075) in spite of the Confessor and his nominee the Sparrowhawk, occupied the see long enough to greet his countrymen on taking possession; and just before his death would be present at the great council held in his cathedral presided over by Lanfranc. Norman though he was, he was in touch with the citizens around his church, and earned their enduring gratitude and friendship by obtaining a fresh grant of their privileges, as he did for the cathedral. "I will," said the Conqueror, "the said church to be free in all respects, as I trust my own soul to be at the Judgment Day."

The Normans.—Maurice, of course a Norman, had been only recently elected bishop in the room of Huge de Orivalle, when the tenth century church of Bishop Elfstan was destroyed in a fire that consumed the greater part of the City (1086 or 1087).

He set to work to build another on a larger scale and after the approved Anglo-Norman method. Fresh ground was procured, and houses pulled down for the enlargement of church and churchyard. "Barges," says Mr. J.R. Green, "came up the river with stone from Caen for the great arches that moved the popular wonder, while street and lane were being levelled to make space for the famous churchyard of St. Paul's." Maurice died before the work was anything like finished, but Richard de Belmeis, a most munificent prelate, devoted his episcopal revenues for the purpose.

An earthquake in the second year of Rufus, followed two years later by a destructive November storm, impeded the progress, but in spite of all drawbacks and hindrances, builders and workmen toiled on, Henry I. exempting the stone from toll. "Such is the stateliness of its beauty," said William of Malmesbury, "that it is worthy of being numbered amongst the most famous of buildings; such the extent of the crypt, of such capacity the upper structure, that it seems sufficient to contain a multitude of people." It was the variation of an inch or two in the regularity of the arching of Maurice's new nave that afterwards sorely vexed Wren.

We have now come to a time when Domesday gives us some interesting information. A commencement had been made of endowing separate stalls. Certain of the estates were parcelled out in this way, partly because they may have been safer from alienation, partly that the canons might be responsible, if necessary, for the services of religion in the manors and townships in which their endowments, technically known afterwards as corpses, were situated. In Domesday, St. Pancras, Rugmere (in St. Pancras), and Twyford, in Willesden, appear, and may fairly be set down as the three original prebends, although the term "prebend" does not yet appear, neither do the distinctive names of the stalls. To these three some would add Consumpta-per-Mare in the Essex Walton, so called because the glebe was consumed by the encroachments of the sea. We will dismiss this obscure subject by anticipating a little, and stating that, what with parts of the old endowments and what with additions, by the end of the twelfth century the thirty prebends were complete. The names and inscriptions will be found in the account of the interior of the present Choir.

The two Caddingtons were a gift in Bedfordshire in the diocese of Lincoln; the remaining twenty-eight were in Middlesex and Essex. The corporate property of the Chapter by the same date must have reached 24,000 acres.[7]

The Conquest brought other changes in its train. Originally the bishop was head of the Chapter, and the canons his assistants. But, beginning not later than with Maurice, who held high office under the Crown, the bishops became more and more immersed in politics, and found no time to preside, while the Chapter would naturally raise no objection to greater independence. What our French neighbours now call a doyen, a senior from among the canons, took the bishop's vacant place, and became dean.

John de Appleby, so late as 1364, dean by virtue of papal proviso, was only allowed to summon the Chapter, and could not preside until he had obtained a prebend by exchange. A hundred and fifty years later Colet was a prebendary. I find no traces of archdeacons—London, Essex, Middlesex, or Colchester—prior to the Conquest, but these eyes of the bishop soon appear afterwards; and the Chanter becomes Precentor; the Sacrist, or keeper of the plate, vestments, and other valuables, becomes Treasurer; and the Master of the Schools, Chancellor. For the sake of convenience looking forward a little, these changes, begun in Norman times, were completed not long after.

The Plantagenets.—As in the tenth century and as in the eleventh, that evil demon Fire for a third time, "three days before the Christmas of 1136," partially destroyed, or at least seriously injured, St. Paul's, during a conflagration which reached from London Bridge to beyond the Fleet. In rebuilding, the then method was to throw a coating of the more refined Romanesque of the day over the older work;[8] and this is how I explain an obscure passage in Pepys—"It is pretty here to see how the late church was but a case wrought over the old church; for you may see the very old pillars standing whole within the wall of this."[9] The old pillars of the nave were restored, and furnished with graceful engaged columns, and vaulting shafts rising from the ground. As the choir was afterwards superseded by another, we cannot tell what was done to it.

We have now come to a time when it is impossible even to catalogue the numerous stirring events which the cathedral witnessed. William Fitzosbert the Longbeard, for thundering forth at PAUL'S CROSS—where the citizens' folk-mote was wont to be held—against tyranny and corruption in high quarters, suffered the extreme penalty. But people in a higher position were soon to do the same. When John and Innocent formed their strange alliance against the national liberties, it was at St. Paul's that Stephen Langton produced the Charter of Henry I. Here John publicly handed over his kingdom to the Pope, and received it back as a vassal. Here came the counterblast, when Louis, son of King Philip II. of France, received the kingdom from the assembled magnates. After the death of John and Innocent the papal claims were upheld; and at a council in 1232, at which the papal legate presided, he took for his text, "In the midst of the throne and round about the throne were four beasts."[10] The four beasts were not the four Evangelists, but four opposition prelates, including the two primates and the Bishop of London, Roger the Black. It was the great bell of St. Paul's which in the days of Simon de Montfort summoned the citizens to rise against their king.

Old St. Paul's completed.—Whilst the nave was constantly witnessing scenes like this, and whilst clergy and people were protesting against encroachments on their liberties from abroad or at home, a new and more magnificent choir, and a new or restored north aisle to either transept were in course of construction, the ways and means being found with the help of indulgences issued by various bishops, Scotch and Irish included, over a lengthy period.[11] In 1240 the king and the Cardinal Legate Otho attended the consecration of so much of the new work as was then completed; and Bishop Roger was supported by the Primate, Edmund Rich, and other prelates.

East of the cathedral was St. Faith's, one of those parish churches in which cathedral cities are notoriously prolific—churches with parishes of the size of an average meadow, or less.[12] Whether it be owing to greater wealth, or to greater subdivision of property, or to enthusiasm kindled at a religious centre, nowhere do donors and benefactors appear to have been more numerous than in these ancient cities, like London, Norwich, and Exeter. St. Faith's was pulled down, and the rights of the parishioners made good by allotting to them the new crypt underneath the site of their old church. About this time also the vaulting was renewed throughout, and various adornments added from time to time. In 1312 the choir was paved with marble at a cost of fivepence per foot; and three years later the old and ruinous steeple was superseded by a new one of wood covered with lead, rising, according to the lowest estimate—that of Wren—to a height of 460 feet, without the cross. The cross had a "pomel well guilt" set on the top, and contained relics of different saints, put there by Bishop Gilbert de Selgrave with all due solemnity, accompanied by an indulgence, for protection. Thus was finished Old St. Paul's, the most magnificent church in England, meet to be the cathedral of the capital, which London had now become.

Wycliffe and Gaunt.—The Primate Sudbury and Bishop Courtenay tried John Wycliffe at the cathedral on a charge of heresy (February 13, 1377). This was in the days of rival popes at Rome and Avignon, and one or other or both had been described by the accused as "Antichrist, the proud, worldly priest of Rome, and the most cursed of clippers and purse-kervers."[13] By an alliance almost as strange as that between John and Innocent, Wycliffe found himself supported by John of Gaunt, with whom was the Earl Marshal, Percy, Earl of Northumberland. Wycliffe and the Duke of Lancaster had this much in common, they both wished to confine the clergy to their strictly clerical duties, the latter through jealousy, the former for higher reasons. An immense concourse filled the cathedral. Courtenay was popular with the citizens, Gaunt was not; and Percy was strongly suspected of a wish to abolish the mayoralty, and as Earl Marshal to appoint a captain of his own instead. During an angry altercation Gaunt whispered loudly to a neighbour, "Rather than I will take those words at his [Courtenay's] hands, I would pluck the bishop by the hair out of the church." In the tumult that followed this insult Gaunt and Percy with difficulty escaped; the former fled across the river to Kennington, and his palace at the Savoy was sacked. Yet, in spite of all this, Gaunt was the only royal prince after the Conquest buried at St. Paul's. His tomb under the arch on the north side of the high altar, enriched by a noble canopy to which his spear, shield, and insignia were attached, contained effigies of himself and of his second wife, Constance of Castile. He had also a chantry.

Bishop Robert de Braybroke.—On Courtenay's translation to Canterbury, Braybroke became bishop (1382-1404). A thoroughly practical reformer, he held out the threat of the greater excommunication because "in our Cathedral not only men but women also, not on common days alone but especially on Festivals, expose their wares as it were in a public market, and buy and sell without reverence for the holy place.... Others play at ball or other unseemly games, both within and without the church, breaking the beautiful and costly painted windows, to the amazement of the spectators." He also attempted to regulate residence. Owing to the increased value of the corporate or common property divided amongst the residentiaries or stagiarii, residence was no longer reckoned a burden, but sought after. To keep the number down to two the canons in residence would admit no fresh colleague unless he spent during his first year from six hundred to a thousand merks in feasting and other useless expenditure. Braybroke put a check to this abuse, and by the arbitration of the king the practice of Salisbury was taken as a model.[14] It was after his death (October 15, 1414) that the Use of St. Paul in the religious services was superseded by the Use of Sarum.

The Petty or Minor Canons now received their charter of corporation immediately after the death of Anne of Bohemia, wife of Richard II. Apparently when Becket's representative ventured on his dangerous errand, deed of excommunication in hand, the canons' vicars or vicars choral sang the services. In Braybroke's time we find a body intermediate between the canons and their vicars. They were twelve in number, were required to have good voices, and to understand the art of singing, and by their charter were to pray for their royal benefactor, as well as for the repose of the souls of his wife and ancestors. The first ranked as Sub-dean, taking for many purposes the dean's place in his absence, and the two next were the Cardinals. The Sacrist, the Almoners, and the Divinity Lecturers endowed by Bishop Richard de Gravesend and Thomas White were appointed from among them. They enjoyed their own common hall, and elected their own warder and steward; and two years after incorporation, drawing up their own Statutes, provided that they were to be read in Hall every quarter, and that no one was to shuffle his feet during the reading.[15]

The vicars choral either now or later had dwindled down to six, and seem to have been only in minor orders. The Petty Canons had their own endowments; but if the canons had to pay their own vicars, we need not be surprised at this diminution.

The Wars of the Roses.—With this period St. Paul's is closely associated. At St. Paul's the Yorkist leaders pledged their allegiance to the unhappy Henry VI. on the Sacrament—only to break it. After Barnet the dead bodies of the king-maker and his brothers were exposed, and after Tewkesbury the murdered corpse of Henry received similar treatment. Most striking of all is the grim figure of Richard of Gloucester. He it was who caused Jane Shore to be put to open penance on the ground that she had bewitched him, she "going before the Cross on a Sunday with a taper in her hand," says Stow, "out of all aray saue her kirtle only." Hastings, the successor of Edward in her affections, was implicated with her, and his offence read from Paul's Cross. At Paul's Cross, newly restored by the bishop, the younger Kempe, and while the boy king was a prisoner in the palace hard by, that worthless sycophant, Dr. Ralph Shaw, the preacher (May 19, 1483), took for his text, "The multiplying brood of the ungodly shall not thrive, nor take deep rooting from bastard slips, nor lay any fast foundations" (Wisdom, iv. 3). His sermon went to prove to the citizens that Richard was the only, or at least the senior, legitimate member of the royal family. Richard was present to hear his own mother dishonoured; and the preacher, pointing dramatically to him, argued that, unlike his three elder brothers, he resembled the late Duke of York. But the people showed no sympathy, would not cry "Long live King Richard," and dispersed, fearing the worst for the poor lad immured in the bishop's palace.

The Clergy and Services.—We may now conveniently glance at these important subjects. The Bishop, who appointed all the dignitaries except the dean, was Visitor. At the great festivals he was usually present, and the bells were rung in his honour. How the DEAN always, or nearly so, held another stall has been already stated; how he came to be presented by the Crown instead of elected by his brethren is uncertain; but the Chapter somehow practically lost their right of electing both bishop and dean, for either pope or king in effect appointed their diocesan. The dean was visitor of the homes of the clergy and of the chapter estates. To the four ARCHDEACONRIES of London, Essex, Middlesex, and Colchester was afterwards added the small one of St. Alban's on the dissolution of that important abbey, but without a stall in the choir.[16] The office of PRECENTOR is explained by the name. The TREASURER was responsible for the very valuable treasures—jewels, vestments, relics, and the like—as distinct from the moneys. Lower in rank, but in reality of greater importance, came the CHANCELLOR. He had jurisdiction over the old school of St. Paul's, and any others in the City with the exception of those of St. Mary-le-Bow and St. Martin's-le-Grand, and was secretary and keeper of the seals, receiving a pound of pepper for each deed sealed. The thirty PREBENDARIES (or rather twenty-nine when the dean was one) could only hold one stall each at St. Paul's, but any number of benefices elsewhere like the higher dignitaries; and it is by no means certain that in the thirteenth century John Mansell did not hold three stalls at St. Paul's simultaneously among his innumerable benefices which together, according to Matthew Paris, amounted to 4,000 merks per annum.[17] Of the prebendaries a varying minority in residence, stagiaries (stagiarii, perhaps a corruption of the more classical stationarii),[18] not only divided amongst themselves the balance of the common fund, but were not above partaking of a share of the capitular bakehouse and brewhouse. The dean, the three higher dignitaries, and the prebendaries constituted the Chapter, in certain matters the non-residentiaries having no jurisdiction, and, as recorded in their Visitations, exercised a very great authority over their various manors. Below the Chapter came the twelve PETTY CANONS, officers peculiar to St. Paul's and Hereford;[19] and there were over fifty CHANTRY PRIESTS when suppressed. Besides their appointed daily masses they would divide amongst them the annual masses called obits, which amounted to about a hundred, and were expected to assist the Petty Canons. They spent their extensive leisure after the proverbial manner of idle and ignorant men. The VICARS CHORAL had dwindled down to six by Colet's time, were no longer in priests' orders, and eventually became laymen pure and simple. Space would fail us to enumerate the remaining official and semi-official officers. Among the latter were the twelve scribes, who sat in the nave for the service of the illiterate public, and were sworn to do nothing detrimental to the interests of the Chapter.

The Apostle's mass was sung the first thing in the morning, in earlier days by a Vicar Choral, and subsequently by a Petty Canon; and next came the two masses named after the Virgin and the Chapter, the Cardinals taking the latter. The other daily services were the usual Nocturns or Matins and the rest, ending with a combined evensong of Vespers and Compline. We do not know how the old Use of St. Paul's differed from that of Sarum. Besides the Conversion and Commemoration of St. Paul, the Deposition (April 30th) and the Translation (November 14th) of St. Erkenwald were red-letter days when, before the peal was sounded, the bells were rung two and two. On the eve of St. Nicholas (December 5th), patron saint of children, the choristers elected their boy bishop and his clerks. On St. John the Evangelist's Day (December 27th) at evensong the newly elected boy bishop in pontifical vestments, with his boy clerks in copes, walked in procession, and after censing the altar of the Blessed Trinity returned and occupied dignitaries' stalls, and any evicted dignitary had to take the boy's place as thurifer or acolyte, the boy bishop giving the benediction. The next day (Holy Innocents) this youth preached and took the earlier part of the mass. These choir lads were trained to act mysteries and, later on, stage plays.[20]

Each new Lord Mayor, accompanied by the Council, went in procession to St. Thomas Acon, and from thence to the cathedral. He paid his devotions at the tomb of Bishop William the Norman, in the nave, in gratitude for privileges obtained from the Conqueror, and then at the tomb of his predecessor, the Portreeve Gilbert Becket, father of Thomas, in a little chapel in the churchyard. On Whitsunday and the following Tuesday were great processions in which the Corporation joined, as they did on seven other festivals. At Whitsuntide, according to a sixteenth century account, a huge suspended censer was swung along the nave, and the descent of the Holy Spirit illustrated by the letting loose of a white pigeon. Those who are curious about the shrines, and particularly of St. Erkenwald's, the scene of so many reputed miracles of healing, and of the relics, which included a vase believed to contain some hair, milk, and a garment of the Virgin, are referred to Dugdale and other like works. Passing over Te Deums for victories like Agincourt and Obsequies for the dead—this latter a source of income to the officers—we will close this chapter with the wedding of Arthur, Prince of Wales, a lad of fifteen, to Catherine of Aragon, in November, 1501. The next spring Arthur died, and the king effected the betrothal of the widow of eighteen to his younger son Henry, aged eleven. Seven years later Henry VII. died, and lay in state at the cathedral.


[1] Tacitus, "Annals," xiv. 33.

[2] Bishop Browne ("The Christian Church in these Islands before the Coming of St. Augustine," 1897, pp. 59-62; S.P.C.K.) in a learned note disposes of this, as he does of the veteran claim of St. Peter's, Cornhill, to take rank as the elder sister of St. Paul's.

[3] The list in the south nave transept, compiled with the assistance of Bishops Stubbs and Browne, leaves this period doubtful and uncertain (vide Appendix A).

[4] "Eccles. Hist.," book ii., chap. iii.

[5] The grant is in Dugdale, p. 288; in Domesday it runs "tenet semper Paulus."

[6] Bishop Browne's "Conversion of the Heptarchy," p. 154 (S.P.C.K.).

[7] Dugdale, p. 299 et seq., quotes the Exchequer Domesday. Also, Hale's "Domesday of St. Paul's" and Leach's "Southwell" (the Introduction); Freeman's "Cathedral Church of Wells," p. 50 et seq.; and Newcourt's "Repertorium." Hereford is the only other cathedral in Domesday where canons held in this way. Southwell (now a cathedral, though the prebendaries are gone), Bedford, Twyneham, and Stafford were collegiate churches of a like kind.

[8] Freeman's "Wells," p. 69.

[9] "Diary," Sept. 16, 1666. So far as the pillars are concerned I know of no other time when this "casing" could have been done; and the architecture in Hollar's prints, as reproduced in Dugdale, agrees.

[10] Dean Milman says the text was from Ezekiel, i. 5; was it not from Revelation, iv. 6?

[11] "Documents Illustrative," p. 175.

[12] St. Faith's parish reaches westward to 62, St. Paul's Churchyard, north side.

[13] "Chapters in the History," p. 97.

[14] Perhaps the residentiaries were increased to eleven.

[15] "Gleanings," chap. i. It is disappointing to find that it was thought necessary to provide in the Statutes against gross immorality, and that a fine of 3s. 4d. was deemed a sufficient punishment for the first offence, to be doubled on repetition.

[16] Were they ever members of the chapter ex officio?

[17] If he had to read his share of the Psalter every day for each, his time for affairs of State must have been encroached upon.

[18] So says Dr. Sparrow-Simpson. In the Gallican Church the stage was the time of qualifying for residence. In modern French a stagiaire = a licentiate in law going through his stage.

[19] In former days. The Vicars Choral of other foundations are now called Minor Canons.

[20] "Chapters in the History," p. 53.




With the Florentine studies of John Colet, remarks J.R. Green, a purer Christianity awoke throughout Teutonic Europe. Born in 1466, a son of a distinguished citizen who was twice Lord Mayor, after seven years at Oxford he travelled with sufficient means to France and Italy, and whether at home or abroad studied in particular Greek. "The knowledge of Greek seems to have had one almost exclusive end for him,"[21] continues Green; "Greek was the key by which he could unlock the Gospels and the New Testament." Discarding the traditional mediaevalisms, his faith rested simply on a vivid realisation of the Person of Christ; and whilst his active and lucid intellect exhibit him in many lights, everything else was subordinate to his faith. Returning to England, he lectured gratuitously at Oxford on St. Paul's Epistles, and formed a friendship with Erasmus. So Erasmus became the earnest pupil of an earnest master. Taking priests' orders, he was appointed Dean of St. Paul's and Prebendary of Mora (1505), and established a reputation as a preacher. In those days, and until Wolsey as legate gave the preference to Westminster, the two Houses held their sessions in the Chapter House and Nave of Old St. Paul's, as the opening ceremony still reminds us. Preaching at the opening in 1512, he startled Convocation by declaring, "All that is in the Church is either the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life." In vain his bishop, Richard Fitz-James, endeavoured to establish a charge of heresy: the Primate Warham and young Henry VIII. both admired and supported the Dean; and the Dean continued to show his preference for the New Testament in the original Greek rather than for the prevalent nonsense of the mediaeval schoolmen.


Where the consent of his Chapter was necessary, Colet's efforts at reform were obstructed. The profanation of the sacred building he could not stop: buying, selling, and promenading in the nave continued the order of the day. The Chapter would have nothing to do with his new statutes, but elsewhere he was more successful. The Chancellor's School was not in accordance with his views; and in spite of Bishop, Chancellor, and Chapter, out of his own means he built ST. PAUL'S SCHOOL, towards the east end of the churchyard, and endowed it; and leaving his colleagues out in the cold, left the management to the Mercers' Company. His theology was manifest in the image over the gate. It was neither Erkenwald nor Uncumber: it was not the Virgin or even St. Paul himself, but the Child Jesus with the simple and pregnant inscription, "Hear ye Him." The severity of his discipline, although a Pauline parent or pupil would now resent it, was adapted to those rough and hardy times, when people rose early and worked hard, and when corporal punishment was general and often, and irrespective of sex or age. William Lyly, an Oxford student who had studied in the East, was his first high master. As the original St. Paul's School became eventually absorbed in Colet's, this latter—now removed from its old home to stately buildings on the Hammersmith Road, and possessing (1899), as a high master, a worthy successor of Lyly[23]—is in one sense a new foundation of Colet's, yet in another is also a continuation of that venerable foundation under the charge of the Chancellor. Looked at in this latter aspect, it may assert an antiquity almost as great as St. Peter's, York, which claims—and not without reason—to be the senior boys' school in the country. Colet so looked forward to the different requirements of different ages that his statutes did not tie his school down to any cut and dried course of study; but let us hope place will always be found for the Greek Testament. What are we to think of the preacher who, while denouncing war, so pricked the conscience of Henry VIII. that the king sent to consult him? What of the Bible student who thought that the story of Creation was an allegory, and intended to teach the ignorant Israelites that the one God had created everybody and everything? What of the reformer who went beyond Erasmus in denouncing the profane excesses perpetrated in the name of religion at the shrine of Becket at Canterbury? Colet died of the "sweating sickness" at the early age of fifty-three, in 1519; and it is idle to speculate on his action had he lived until the breach with Rome. His monument in the south aisle of the choir perished in the Fire; and in the new Renaissance cathedral a second might well be erected to the memory of this great leader of the Renaissance in theology and learning, the greatest among many great occupants of the Dean's stall.

Reformation Principles Opposed.—The still smouldering doctrines of Wycliffe were now fanned into a flame; and Wolsey endeavoured to extinguish them without having resort to the stake Tyndal's New Testament, translated into English in 1526 at Worms, must have been speedily smuggled across the Channel. On the Shrove Tuesday of 1527 Wolsey attended St. Paul's, accompanied by some six-and-thirty prelates, mitred abbots, and other high dignitaries. Barnes of Cambridge, formerly a friar, and five others, "Stillyard men," were brought from the Fleet prison in penitential array, Barnes carrying a heavy taper, the rest faggots. Testaments and other forbidden books were in baskets by a fire in the nave. On their knees the penitents recanted; while Barnes declared that he deserved to be burnt. Fisher again preached; and the six pardoned offenders were taken inside the rails and made to walk round the fire, after which the books were burnt—by no means a solitary literary conflagration.

Reformation Principles Advanced.—In order to raise money, Henry declared that as the clergy had acquiesced in the authority of Wolsey as legate, and as such acquiescence was contrary to the Statute of Provisors, all these benefices were forfeit to the Crown, and a heavy subsidy must be paid as ransom. The clergy of the diocese of London, considering that the arch-offender against this Statute was Henry himself, and next to him the prelates and great mitred abbots, attended a meeting at the Chapter House, and were assisted by a number of their parishioners. John Stokesley, Bishop designate,[24] who presided, and who had to see the assessment made, could neither keep order nor gain his point: "We never meddled, let the bishops and abbots pay." Fifteen priests and four parishioners were imprisoned, and, of course, Henry gained his point.

Throughout 1534 the deanery was vacant. The Bishop was directed to see that the appointed preachers at Paul's Cross taught that the Pope had no spiritual authority of divine right. Here as elsewhere it is remarkable with what ease and unanimity the papal jurisdiction based on the Petrine claims was done away with. No dignitary—and Bonner that year became Prebendary of Chiswick—no priest of humbler rank connected with the cathedral, either resigned or got into trouble on this important doctrinal question; although the execution of those two earnest men, John Fisher and Thomas More, who opposed the divorce and the abrogation of the papal claims, was followed by a pronouncement of excommunication, deposition, and an interdict on the part of Paul III. Yet at St. Paul's, nineteen Anabaptists—a sect whom no one pitied—were sentenced to be burnt, and of these a man and a woman suffered at Smithfield, and the remainder in the provinces. The next year (1536) Hugh Latimer, as earnest and good a bishop as Fisher and his exact opposite, preaching before Convocation, denounced abuses in the spirit of an age which did not hesitate to call a spade a spade. "Lift up your heads, brethren, and look about with your eyes; spy what things are to be reformed in the Church of England."

But more dramatic and more effective than the sonorous ring of honest Hugh's eloquence, was the sermon at the Cross (February 14, 1538) of Bishop John Hisley, Fisher's successor at Rochester, and formerly Prior of the Dominicans in London. His subject was an ingenious piece of mechanism, called the Rood of Grace, from Boxley in his diocese, a source of revenue from devotees. Now, this product of the mechanic's art does not seem to have had any resemblance to a Rood—i.e., a large cross or crucifix—but rather was shaped like a big doll; and Hisley demonstrated to his intelligent congregation of citizens how no inherent power, but a man standing inside, with the aid of wires, caused the rood to bow, and move its eyes and mouth.[25]

The exposure was followed next St. Bartholomew's eve by the removal of the Great Rood at the north door, and those of our Lady of Grace and of St. Uncumber. This last saint is supposed to be a foreign princess of early times, styled also in England St. Wilgeforte. A peck of oats was a favourite offering at her shrine in St. Paul's by those who wished for favours; and according to Sir Thomas More she owed her popular name because wives unhappy in their union so offered in the hope that she would uncumber (i.e., disencumber) them of their husbands. The disgrace of Thomas Cromwell put a temporary stop to actions of this nature; and we find Gardiner at the Cross denouncing both Rome and Luther. We further find Barnes, our quondam penitent, amongst those who replied from the same famous pulpit, and likening himself and Gardiner to two fighting cocks, only that the garden cock lacked good spurs. The result was that Barnes ended his chequered career at the stake, as did others.

Edward VI.—So long as Henry lived it was dangerous to uphold either the Petrine claims or the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and it was equally dangerous to oppose the doctrine of transubstantiation; but the Council of the child king would not have this latter doctrine, and was distinctly Protestant. The endowments of the chantries had been transferred to the Court of Augmentations in the autumn of 1545 (37 Henry VIII. c. 4) for the benefit of the king; but when at the beginning of 1547 Edward succeeded his father, St. Paul's still enjoyed her own. Somerset and his Protestant council not only wanted the property, but objected to masses for the dead, and a renewing Act was quickly passed, Edward's name taking his father's place. So went chantries and obits into the royal coffers, the list in Dugdale, as returned to the Court, filling ten folio pages; while but little commiseration was felt for the hard lot of these illiterate chaplains deprived of their livelihood. And this was not all. Besides any remaining roods and crucifixes, altars were demolished, tombs wrecked, plate, jewels, vestments and frontals sold. Elaborate gold and silver embroidered work found its way to Spanish cathedrals, and up to a short time ago was reported to be still there.[26] Pardon Haugh Chapel was desecrated, and the bones carted away to Finsbury; the Chapter House cloisters went to build Somerset House. The dean, William May, was an advanced Protestant; but so was not his bishop, Bonner. Bonner preached at the Cross upholding transubstantiation, and was deprived and imprisoned. It is to the credit of his successor, Ridley, that he supported Bonner's mother and sister at Fulham; "Our mother Bonner"—he was unmarried—taking the head of his table. Yet Ridley was one of the judges at St. Paul's who sent the Anabaptist woman Joan Bucher to the stake for heresy. During the first year or two of this reign, complains Dean Milman, "Sunday after Sunday the Cathedral was thronged, not with decent and respectable citizens, but with a noisy rabble, many of them boys, to hear unseemly harangues on that solemn rite" [the Sacrament]. Ridley, after his translation (1550) restored comparative order, and remained bishop long enough to witness the introduction of the Second Prayer Book.

Mary Tudor.—When poor Edward came to his untimely end, Ridley sided with the faction of Jane, and preached at the Cross, declaring both Mary and Elizabeth illegitimate. For this he has been much censured; but so far as the two princesses went—of course this would not make Jane next of kin—he was but upholding the decisions of Ecclesiastical Courts. In spite of any weakness in her title—and we have seen how her mother had been married to Arthur at St. Paul's—Mary was proclaimed, the bells rung, the Lords went in procession to hear Te Deum chanted; Bonner went back, and Dean May was replaced by John Feckenham. Yet Mary's party by no means had everything their own way. Gilbert Bourne, Prebendary of Wedland, who had retained his benefice throughout the late reign and was now Chaplain to the Queen, preaching at the Cross, was rudely interrupted with cries and throwing up of caps; and had it not been for two of his brother canons, John Rogers of St. Pancras and John Bradford of Cantlers, and others, who conducted him in safety to the adjacent schoolroom, matters might have gone ill with Mary's champion. Gardiner recanted his former heterodoxy concerning the papal supremacy in a sermon; and Pole appeared as Legate. Ridley, Rogers, and Bradford were amongst those who suffered at the stake, while May escaped.

Of course the old services were reintroduced; and we turn from grave to gay in a record of one of these revived functions. A doe was offered on the Conversion and a buck on the Commemoration of St. Paul, both in connection with some quaint old-world land tenure. Our records tell us that Bonner wore his mitre, and the Chapter their copes, with garlands of roses on their heads. The buck—it was the Commemoration—was brought to the high altar, and at some time and place not exactly defined but within the choir, was slain; and the head, severed and raised on a pole, was borne before the processional cross to the west door. Here a horn was blown, and other horns in different parts of the City answered.[27]

Elizabeth.—After the death of Mary, as the diocese of London had been the chief sufferer from the persecutions, and as the excitement in the City ran very high, the sermons at the Cross were for a time wisely discontinued. The Primate Pole, the last Romanist at Canterbury and the last Legate openly accredited to an English sovereign, and many of his suffragans likewise, died about the same time; and it was left for Bonner to preside over a thin Upper House.

What was to be done with the bishop? To allow him to continue in his high office was tantamount to a grave scandal to religion, and his person was not safe from the fury of the populace. He was replaced by Edmund Grindal, and spent the remaining ten years of his life chiefly in the security of the Marshalsea, without any undue vigour or harshness. Mary's first dean, Feckenham, had been made abbot of the resuscitated regular foundation of Westminster, and his successor was quietly ejected in favour of the restored May, whilst a few of the other dignitaries lost their stalls. The Epistle and Gospel were first read in English, and eventually the Prayer Book was resumed; but the changes were made gradually; and, considering the provocation, no vindictive spirit was displayed.

In June, 1561, the beautiful spire was destroyed by fire caused by lightning or by a plumber's neglect, and the Chapter House seriously injured. We have no trustworthy plates prior to this fire, and the various estimates about the height of the spire and other matters are anything but infallible. Service was held at St. Gregory's, and the roof and other parts restored at a cost of L6,700, but the architecture was never the same afterwards. Of course the disappointed Romanists attributed the disaster to the Divine anger, and Bishop Pilkington, of Durham, preaching next Sunday at the Cross, to the still continued desecration.

It is difficult for us to understand why this desecration was allowed to go on. A pillory was indeed set up outside near the bishop's palace, and a man convicted of fighting nailed there by his ears, which were afterwards cut off; but this must have been an offence exceptionally outrageous. "What swearing is there," says Dekker, "what shouldering, what jostling, what jeering, what biting of thumbs to beget quarrels." At Bishop Bancroft's Visitation a verger complained that colliers with coal-sacks, butchers' men with meat, and others made the interior a short cut. Bishop Corbet, of Norwich, wrote:

"When I past Paules, and travelled in that Walke Where all our Brittaine-sinners sweare and talke, Ould Harry-ruffians, bankrupts, suthe-sayers, And youth, whose cousenage is as ould as theirs."

The choir boys even during service time were on the alert for "spur money," a fine due for the wearing of spurs. "Paul's Walk" (the central aisle of the nave), said Bishop Earle, of Salisbury, "is the land's epitome.... It is the general mart of all famous lies." Shakespeare was thinking of his own time, as well as of the time of Henry IV. (2 Henry IV., act 1, scene 2) when he makes Falstaff engage Bardolph, out of place and standing at the servant-men's pillow to be hired. John Evelyn called the cathedral a den of thieves. Before, we have mentioned that this abuse existed in mediaeval times; the above authorities show that it still went on right up to the Fire. Doctrine might be purified, and rites reformed; Paul's Walk was neither purified nor reformed.

John Felton nailed the Bull of Pius V. excommunicating and deposing Elizabeth (Regnans in Excelsis) to the bishop's gate at night (May 15, 1570), and was hung on a gallows hard by. We pass on from this, and from Elizabeth's "tuning of the pulpit" and various other matters, to the Armada. By September some of the captured flags were displayed on high outside, and waved over the preacher at the Cross. The last Sunday in November was appointed for the State Thanksgiving, Aylmer being bishop and Nowell dean. The Queen was driven in a chariot drawn by four white horses. Bishop John Piers, of Salisbury, the Almoner, was the preacher. His sermon has not come down, but the Form of Prayer has—"Turning the destruction they intended against us upon their own head." At the conclusion, the Queen remained in the City to dine with the bishop.

After the death of the great Queen, the leading conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot[28] were executed outside the West Front. John King, Dean of Christ Church, styled by James "the king of preachers," was consecrated bishop in 1611; and the next year Bartholomew Leggatt was condemned as a heretic in the Consistory Court, and burnt at Smithfield; and a month later Edward Wightman suffered a like fate at Lichfield. But the Marian persecutions had made all good citizens sick of such sights, and henceforth, says Fuller, the king yielding to public opinion, "politically preferred that heretics, though condemned, should silently and privately waste themselves away in prison."

Inigo Jones.—A certain Master John Farley agitated in favour of the decaying and neglected fabric, and King James attended service in state to hear his favourite preacher, the bishop, plead for restoration from an appropriate text chosen by the king himself (March 26, 1620). After the service came a banquet at the bishop's palace, and after the banquet a meeting; and a Royal Commission was appointed before the end of the year on which the Lord Mayor was the first person named. Amongst other commissioners was Inigo Jones, Surveyor of the Royal Works. He had studied in Italy and was an enthusiastic student of the Italian Renaissance. Unfortunately the public was anything but enthusiastic, and only a small sum was contributed, which went in the purchase of stone. Matters came to a complete standstill; and shortly prior to his assassination the elder Villiers is reported to have stolen part of the stone for a watergate for his new town house.

The Commission died with the king, and Laud, becoming bishop, persuaded Charles to issue a new one. This time a handsome sum was collected, and work was commenced. As regards the exterior, the nave and west sides of the two transepts were cased throughout, and some repairs made to the east end.[29] The chief alteration in the interior was the adornment and restoration of the choir screen, at the expense of Sir Paul Pindar, and with the laudable object of putting an end to desecration. Inigo Jones added a noble classical portico to the West End as a successor to Paul's Walk. We forgive the lack of harmony with the Norman nave, when we recall the truly religious motive.

But evil days for the cathedral were approaching. In the House of Commons (February 11, 1629), Oliver Cromwell, Member for Huntingdon town, made his maiden speech in a Grand Committee on Religion. He complained that Dr. Alablaster had preached flat Popery at Paul's Cross, and that the Doctor's bishop, Neile of Winchester, would not have it otherwise.[30] Alablaster was High Church, and the Third Parliament of Charles was not.

The Civil War.—The outbreak of the Civil War put an end to the Commission, and the moneys were confiscated.[31] The Long Parliament acquired the supremacy in the City, and from 1643 Inigo Jones ceased to act as surveyor, dying before the Restoration. The whole staff was expelled, and their revenues sequestrated; and Dr. Cornelius Burgess was appointed preacher, some of the more eastern bays of the choir being walled in by a brick partition as his chapel or conventicle. The chief fault to be found with Burgess is that he was out of place in a cathedral, otherwise there is much to be said in his favour. Even in those times, when religious fanaticism went mad, he behaved with discretion, and courageously headed the petition of London ministers against the execution of the king. Hugh Peters figures in the crypt, and other parts were assigned as meeting-houses. It is better to pass over as quickly as may be the behaviour of the soldiery and populace. "Paul's Cathedral," says Carlyle, "is now a Horseguard; horses stamp in the Canons' stalls there [but the choir was mainly reserved for Burgess and his sermons], and Paul's Cross itself, as smacking of Popery ... was swept altogether away, and its leaden roof melted into bullets, or mixed with tin for culinary pewter."[32] Its very name, the Cross, was against it; and thus fell, never to be restored, the most famous pulpit in England, which through successive generations had been part and parcel of English history. Carlyle also tell us that Trooper Lockyer, of Whalley's Horse, "of excellent parts and much beloved," was shot in the churchyard for mutiny, "amid the tears of men and women."[33]

Monuments which had escaped earlier vandals were now defaced and destroyed; the scaffolding was seized; part of the roof on the south side fell in, and the lead was used for water-pipes. The new portico was hacked about and turned into stalls for wares, and, in a word, Inigo Jones' work more than undone. Other doings of the soldiery are unfit for publication.[34]

The Restoration.—Juxon was translated to Canterbury, and the munificent and much-abused Gilbert Sheldon received London, only in turn to succeed Juxon again three years later. At the beginning of the Civil War the deanery had become vacant, and Richard Steward designated for the vacancy. It was an empty appointment, and was afterwards changed for another of a like kind, and Matthew Nicolas became nominally dean. This preferment took actual effect from the summer of 1660, when Nicolas was installed dean and prebendary of Caddington Major, such of the other dignitaries as survived resuming their stalls, and vacancies were filled up. Another bay was added to the Burgess conventicle, and the cathedral services were resumed. But the sad condition of the fabric called for action, and in 1663 another Commission was appointed, and CHRISTOPHER WREN appointed surveyor. Taking example from his uncle's cathedral at Ely, he suggested an enlargement of the area at the junction of the four members of the cross, and subscriptions were raised.

The Plague.—There is a gap in the subscription list after March, 1665: the pestilence was already at work. As the summer advanced its ravages were intensified; and the City, fortunate in escaping earlier attacks, suffered so severely that the pest-houses proved insufficient; and Harrison Ainsworth is responsible for a story which may probably be depended on in its main outlines. The Lord Mayor and City authorities, in conjunction with the College of Physicians, obtained the consent of Dean Sancroft (the second from Nicolas) and his chapter for the conversion of the cathedral into a lazar-house; and a meeting was held in the Chapter House, at which the Primate Sheldon was present. Sheldon employed himself, co-operating with the Lord Mayor, in making provision for the victims. "Chapels and shrines," says Ainsworth, "formerly adorned with rich sculptures and costly ornaments, but stripped of them at times when they were looked upon as idolatrous and profane, were now occupied by nurses, chirurgeons and their attendants; while every niche and corner was filled with surgical instruments, phials, drugs, poultices, foul rags and linen."[35] After its chequered career, Old St. Paul's was destined to be used last of all as a hospital.

The Fire.—The house and Navy office of Samuel Pepys were in Seething Lane, Crutched Friars, near where Fenchurch Street Station now is. About three in the morning of Sunday, September 2, 1666, Samuel and his wife were called by their servant Jane, who told them of a fire visible in the south-west towards London Bridge. After looking out, not thinking it a great matter, the couple returned to bed; but getting up at seven Pepys heard a far worse account, and instead of attending morning service went to the Tower, and called on his neighbour Sir John Robinson, the Lieutenant. Robinson told him that the house of Faryner, baker to the king, in Pudding Lane had just caught fire, that Fish Street was in flames, and the church of St. Magnus destroyed. These were near the north end of London Bridge, as the Monument and St. Magnus both remind us.

The origin of the Fire Pepys learnt later (February 24, 1667). Faryner's people had occasion to light a candle at midnight; they went as usual into their bakehouse to light it, but as the fire had gone out, had to seek elsewhere. This striking a light in an unusual place by Faryner, his son and daughter, is asserted to have been, somehow and all unknown to them, the origin of the Fire. "Which is," says Pepys, "a strange thing, that so horrid an effect should have so mean and uncertain a beginning." About two in the morning, when the family were upstairs and asleep again, the choking sensation of smoke woke them up, just in time to escape and tell the tale.

There was a drought, and the flames spread on their mission of devastation, assisted by a breeze. St. Paul's and most of the hundred City churches were not likely to be used for worship that morning. "To see the churches all filling with goods by people who themselves should have been quietly there at the time." But service was held as usual at the Abbey; and just about sermon time, a newly elected king's scholar, Taswell, noticing a stir and commotion—he was standing by the pulpit steps—ascertained the cause. The news had spread that the City was in flames. Like most boys the prospect of something exciting coincided with his desire to escape a long sermon, so he hastened outside in time to see four boats on the river, the occupants of which had escaped in blankets. Let us hope that as he was not fully admitted, he escaped Busby's birch. All through the Sunday St. Paul's was safe—the distance from Pudding Lane was a little over half a mile—and even the east end of Lombard Street was intact. The parishioners of St. Gregory and St. Faith, lulled into a false sense of security, remained confident that even though the conflagration spread westward, and the surrounding houses caught fire, the flames would not leap across the vacant space of churchyard; and the booksellers accordingly began to store their goods in St. Faith's as though the crypt were a fireproof safe.[36] So it might possibly have been, and in spite of sparks, had the distracted Lord Mayor been firm enough to prevent the storing of books in the churchyard, and had the cathedral roof been in good repair. The flames gradually encircled the churchyard; the goods there took fire, and the flames caught the end of a board placed on the roof to keep out the wet. The Nemesis of neglect!

Our young friend Taswell first saw the flame at eight o'clock on the Tuesday evening at Westminster. It broke out at the top of St. Paul's Church, almost scorched up by the violent heat of the air and lightning too, and before nine blazed so conspicuous "as to enable me to read very clearly a 16mo. edition of Terence, which I carried in my pocket."

Pepys corroborates as to the day "Paul's is burned and all Cheapside," writing of Tuesday, September 4th; and under the same date, Evelyn adds: "The stones of St. Paul's flew like grenades, the melting lead running down the streets in a stream, and the very pavements glowing with a fiery redness, so as no horse or man was able to tread on them, and the demolition had stopped all the passages, so that no help could be applied, the eastern wind still more impetuously driving the flames forward." By Wednesday night the central section of the City was so burnt out that Pepys walked through Cheapside and Newgate market. "It is a strange thing," he remarks, "to see how long the time did look since Sunday." "Sad sight," he adds next day, "to see how the river looks: no houses nor church near it." Friday, the 7th, early: "A miserable sight of Paul's Church with all the roofs fallen in, and the body of the quire fallen into St. Fayth's; Paul's School also, Ludgate and Fleet Street."

We will conclude this with some more extracts from the evidence of Pepys. On the next Sunday, when it is interesting to observe the drought came to an end, he attended service twice, probably at St. Olave's, Hart Street, Mark Lane, in the neighbourhood of Crutched Friars. In the morning "Our parson made a melancholy but good sermon; and many and most in the church cried, specially the women. The church mighty full; but few of fashion, and most strangers. To church again, and there preached Dean Harding [Nicolas Hardy, of Rochester]; but methinks a bad, poor sermon, though proper for the time; nor eloquent in saying at this time that the City is reduced from a large folio to a decimo-tertio." The phrase "most strangers" is not surprising, as besides St. Paul's, some eighty-five parish churches were in ashes, including two without the walls but inside the Liberties. Our last extract is under date 12th November following, and illustrates how such remains as had hitherto escaped desecration were treated in the general disorder. Bishop Braybroke's efforts at reform have been already acknowledged: his tomb was behind the high altar towards the east. "In the Convocation House Yard [apparently the space within the Chapter House Cloisters] did there see the body of Robert Braybroke, Bishop of London, that died in 1404. He fell down in the tomb out of the great church into St. Fayth's this late fire, and is here seen his skeleton with the flesh on; but all tough and dry like a spongy dry leather or touchwood, all upon his bones. His head turned aside. A great man in his time, and Lord Chancellor. And now exposed to be handled and derided by some, though admired for its duration by others. Many flocking to see it."

Old St. Paul's, then, suffered the fate of its predecessors in the first week of September, 1666. By the Friday the conflagration had so far exhausted itself that Pepys was able to walk from Paul's Wharf to the churchyard. The City within the Walls was well-nigh burnt out, and of the eighty-three parish churches consumed only forty-eight were rebuilt; and these with the thirteen untouched left accommodation more than sufficient for the surrounding population. Our regret for the cathedral would have been greater, had this magnificent monument of mediaeval genius—probably of its kind as fine as any in the world—been capable of a conservative restoration: it is to be feared that neglect, the destroyer, and the restorer had amongst them rendered this task well-nigh impossible.

So far as existing authorities guide us, it remains to describe the architecture.[37]


[21] "Short History," pp. 298, 299. Green says, "The awakening of a rational Christianity."

[22] See Dr. Lupton's "Life of Colet," 1887.

[23] When I was living in the parish of Kensington, St. Paul's School was, as I believe it still is, facile princeps.

[24] Assuming that the date of the meeting from Hall's Chronicle is correctly printed in Milman, November 7, 1530.

[25] "Chapters in the History," p. 169. Milman (p. 202) adds that the hearers pulled the doll to pieces. The dean is made to say "Ridley, now bishop of Rochester"; but Ridley was bishop 1547-1550, as Milman elsewhere implies (p. 211).

[26] Milman, p. 216.

[27] My authorities for this well-nigh incredible story are in "St. Paul's and Old City Life," p. 234.

[28] "Plot" I must continue to call it, with all due deference to certain modern apologists.

[29] Horace Walpole (quoted in Longman, p. 69) says that Inigo Jones renewed the sides with "very bad Gothic." Assuming the accuracy of the prints in Dugdale, it is difficult to see where the Gothic comes in.

[30] Carlyle's "Cromwell," vol i., chap. iv.

[31] There is some confusion as to receipts and expenditure. I take Dugdale to mean that under the Charles commission L101,000 was raised, and L35,000 spent; but it seems uncertain whether we are to include Sir Paul Pindar's liberality in this sum. Dean Milman estimates that only L17,000 was confiscated. The enormous cost of the army caused a chronic deficit.

[32] "Cromwell," vol ii., part v.: The Levellers.

[33] Ibid. Friday, April 27, 1649.

[34] "Gleanings," p. 283.

[35] "Old St. Paul's," chap. v. I have found no corroboration for this interesting incident related by Ainsworth in detail.

[36] Yet the vacant space was in many places very narrow, and the bishop's palace was actually connected with the south-east end of the cathedral.

[37] My quotations from Taswell and Evelyn are taken from Milman, chap. xv. I cannot explain Taswell's mention of lightning. Some assert that St. Paul's caught fire on the Monday.



The church was cruciform, with aisles to every arm; and we will give the external dimensions before the fire of 1561, which include the lofty spire and exclude the portico. The figures must in all cases be considered approximate.

The extreme length east and west is difficult to ascertain: authorities do not agree; neither do their different estimates with their scales. Mr. William Longman, upon the authority of Mr. E.B. Ferrey, estimates it at 596 feet, and his accompanying scale even more. If the accuracy of the comparative ground-plan in "St. Paul's and Old City Life" can be depended upon, we must put it at a little over 580 feet; but Mr. F.C. Penrose's invaluable excavations do not appear to have fixed the precise termination of the west front. Mr. Longman also gives a comparative ground-plan of the two cathedrals from a drawing of Wren's (see below, p. 64); and this, though on a small scale, is perhaps our safest guide, and we shall probably not be far wrong if we say 580 feet or a little over, and divide our length as follows: nave, 252 feet; across transept, 104 feet; choir, 224 feet. To this must be added the portico of 40 feet, making a total length of at least 620 feet. The old west end was some 70 feet nearer Ludgate Hill, and with the portico 110 feet nearer. Length of transepts, 293 feet, the two arms being equal; breadth of both nave and transepts, 104 feet, Dugdale's scale making them exactly 100 feet: breadth of choir a trifle less. Height of nave from ground to apex of roof, about 130 feet, and of choir, 143 feet. Height of central tower by Wren's estimate, the lowest, 260 feet, and of spire about 200 feet; altogether according to Wren, 460 feet, and according to others still higher. Height of western towers with the spires I take the liberty of adding, unknown. I have calculated the area at about 81,000 to 82,000 square feet; and in this have excluded St. Gregory's (say 93 X 23 feet plus the apse) and the Chapter House, with the surrounding cloister; a square of 90 feet and more than half covered in. These two members were structurally part and parcel of the building.

Thus we see that Old St. Paul's was by far the largest cathedral church in England. Its area exceeded York and Durham: its length Winchester: the height of its graceful lead-covered spire exceeded Salisbury; and this, taking Wren's safe and low estimate, and not counting ball, cross and eagle weathercock of some thirty feet more. If we allow St. Gregory and the covered part of the Chapter House area, as we should, it equalled in area or slightly exceeded alike its successor and Cologne and Florence, and was surpassed only by the new St. Peter's, Milan, and Seville. "See the bigness," said Bishop Corbet of Norwich, "and your eye never yet beheld such a goodly object."

The difficulties which present themselves in any attempt to describe the architecture still continue to beset us; such earlier drawings as we have are contradictory and rude to a degree.[38] The NAVE was Norman, rebuilt to a great extent after the fire of 1137. The aisles had the usual round-headed windows, with the unusual (for England) circular windows above. There were flat buttresses; but I must reject the flying-buttresses of some restorers. The clerestory windows are a puzzle. Everybody maintains they were Pointed, and, if so, they would have been inserted at the same time as the new roof; but there seems to be no trustworthy authority for this. In Finden's engravings after Hollar they are taken at a peculiar angle which is apt to mislead. Hollar and his engravers give two windows on the south side in the interior, i.e., of the nave and clerestory. Both seem alike; and Inigo Jones' patched-up north and south fronts represent them both as round, so that the balance of evidence appears to be in favour of round.[39]

Another difficulty is the question of the existence or nonexistence of the western towers. Mr. William Longman and Mr. E.B. Ferrey give none in their south-west view, because "no drawings or plates are known to exist which would settle the question." But it is our misfortune that we have to reconstruct Old St. Paul's practically without the help of drawings, until we come to Inigo Jones' finished work. In Dugdale's ground-plan they cover almost exactly the same area as one of the severies of the neighbouring aisles, and are flush with the west front; in both respects resembling those of Wells and other cathedrals. Besides, they are constantly mentioned, and at various dates, as Mr. Longman duly acknowledges. The southern tower was the original LOLLARDS' TOWER from which the Lambeth tower has borrowed its name, and was utilised for a prison by the Bishops of London for ecclesiastical offences. It was both bell and clock tower, and abutted on to both the cathedral proper and St. Gregory's. So late as 1573, Peter Burchet of the Middle Temple, shortly afterwards executed for murdering his gaoler in the tower, was imprisoned here for heresy, and would then have been sentenced to death but for recanting.

The north-west tower was likewise used at times as a prison, and was connected with the bishop's palace. In the days of Bonner, an upper floor almost as high as the parapet of the nave contained a room eight feet by thirteen; and the two towers were connected by a passage in the thickness of the west wall. Hollar's views show us that Inigo Jones overlaid these towers with a new coating, and finished them off with turrets. The original towers were probably crowned with spires of wood and lead, and both projected some thirty feet from the aisles. The high roof of the nave[40] of the middle of the thirteenth century had an angle of about forty-five, and replaced an older one during the rebuilding of the choir. The CENTRAL TOWER had double flying-buttresses with pinnacles springing from the clerestory; and, assuming that the west towers had also spires, the grouping must have been nearly perfect.

Yet another puzzle is the architecture of the TRANSEPTS. The north and south windows at the ends are sometimes represented as of a late date, but not by Hollar. They were probably Norman in their three stages. In his report[41] Wren says, "The North and South Wings have Aisles only on the West side, the others being originally shut up for the 'Consistory.'" What he meant was that the two east aisles were shut off from the rest of the transepts. Their architecture (of the same dimensions as their western counterparts) was Geometrical as regards windows, buttresses, and pinnacles. The rest of the transepts resembled the nave; and this part of the south front was very much broken. The cloister and chapter house occupied almost the whole of the west side of the south transept, and four bays of the nave; St. Gregory's Church occupied four more bays at the west of the nave, leaving only three aisle windows of the nave on the south side.

Taking the CHOIR next, we will at once dismiss as untrustworthy the view taken in 1610 in Speed, as reproduced in "St. Paul's Cathedral and Old City Life." Here the windows are represented as Norman; but this is not the first time I have found Speed at fault. We have records of the consecration of the western part in 1240, and of the pulling down of St. Faith's and of the completion of the eastern part by the end of the century, or, counting certain additions, a little later. The western and earlier part extended to the fourth window, which is broader than the rest; and the mouldings were somewhat different in this part; but still the matter is not without difficulty. The engravings represent the whole of the tracery of the twelve windows on either side as Geometrical. We should have expected the four western windows to be lancets; and there is no explanation for the uniformity. The East End contained a great window some thirty-seven feet in height, of seven lights and trefoiled at the head; and above this the circular rose window, the four angles of the square stage filled in with an arrangement of smaller circles. There were eastern aisle windows on either side of the main window, and four crypt lights below.

When we add that the buttresses were crowned with pinnacles to strengthen them in their resistance to the flying-buttresses of the clerestory and to the aisle walls beneath, and that these pinnacles contained niches for statues and were terminated with crockets and finials, so far as we can judge the exterior of the choir was in every respect a fitting completion of the exterior of Old St. Paul's.

We have already said sufficient of Inigo Jones, how he flagged [i.e. cased] the outside of the nave and transept, says Wren, "with new stone of larger size than before."[42] Owing to this, the plates are silent as to the window mouldings and other details. Let us pass on to the


The Nave was of eleven bays (not twelve), with triforium and clerestory, and aisles in addition. The outer coating only of the pillars was of good stone. Wren says, "They are only cased without, and that with small stones, not one greater than a Man's Burden, but within is nothing but a Core of small Rubbishstone, and much Mortar, which easily crushes and yields to the Weight." Even the outer casing, he adds, "is much torn with age, and the Neglect of the Roof."[43] Double engaged shafts reached to the clerestory, and supported the springers. The actual arcading sprang from these shorter engaged shafts, which had cushioned capitals; and the arcading of the triforium was similar. The mouldings of the arches of arcading and triforium look like the lozenge. The vaulting, too heavy for its supports, was quadripartite, with cross springers intervening, and the longitudinal rib unbroken. The Transepts were each of four bays, and in their details similar to the nave. Their north aisles were shut off by blank walls which displayed here and there the architecture of the rest; and each aisle of four bays was further divided into two equal parts of two bays each, making four compartments altogether. In one or other of these four the Consistory Court, according to Wren, was held. To the arcading of nave and transepts, Wren says that in later years four new and stronger piers were added in the common centre under the tower for the purpose of strengthening it. As these are not shown in Dugdale's plates, we can only conjecture their date to have been after the fire of 1445. By the plan they were far more massive than the others, and we can well understand Wren's complaint that they broke in upon the perspective.

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