By Dr Anthony Geraghty
Last updated 2011-02-17
Old St Paul's, as depicted by Wenceslaus Hollar (1657)
Before the Great Fire, the City of London was dominated by Old St Paul's, one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. This medieval building was 178 meters long, and, until the spire was struck by lightning in 1561. It stood 149 meters high. The exterior had been remodelled in the early 17th century when the architect Inigo Jones added a colossal porch of free-standing columns. The medieval crossing tower, however, remained unstable. In 1666 - just before the Great Fire of London - Christopher Wren recommended that the tower be taken down and a classical dome put up in its place. His design was inspired by the church architecture of Paris, which he had recently visited. The 'Great Fire' put an end to the project when the old St Paul's was reduced to ruins. Wren was eventually commissioned to build a new cathedral in its place.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.