Views of London : St Pauls


St Martin Le Grand 1815

James Baily, A View of St Pauls from St Martin Le Grand after Thomas Girtin. 1815. The view is looking South.

The General Post Office opened near here in 1829, and the districts of London, EC1 (East Central 1), SW1 (South West 1), NW1 (North West 1) and so on are expressed using St Martin le Grand as the central reference point. The street takes its name from a collegiate church.

The same view in 1837, a bit further north, showing the General Post Office on the left.

Views of London : St Pauls

St Pauls Cathedral 1818

Daniel Havell, South East view of St Paul's Cathedral after J Gendell 1818.

'As the Cathedral of the capital city, St Paulís is the spiritual focus for the Nation. This is where people and events of overwhelming importance to the country have been celebrated, mourned and commemorated since the first Service took place in 1697.'

This type of bland, sententious assertion is what passes for truth among guidebooks, but, in fact, St Pauls has rarely acted as a spiritual focus, though it is true that various large scale events have been staged there, for example Winston Churchill's funeral and the Duke of Wellington's funeral (accompanied by the sale of Alfred Tennyson's poem to mark the event). Its architecture is as close as England ever got to the baroque, and it functioned largely in the manner of a political, rather than a spiritual, statement, expressing the power and authority of the king and the church. 

But in 1688, even before building was complete, mercantile interests deposed James II and placed William of Orange on the English throne, conclusively demonstrating who had real political power and, despite its huge size, the building has subsequently been dwarfed by the products of this mercantile interest, which make its grandeur look dainty by comparison.

St Pauls was built to designs by Christopher Wren between 1675 and 1714 after the previous cathedral on the site burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666.

X marks the approximate viewpoint for the Havell engraving. From Greenwood's map of 1827.

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