Did you know Sir Christopher Wren was a scientist and mathematician as well as an architect?  He designed St. Paul’s Cathedral to be 365 feet tall, equal to the number of days in a year.

As I walked toward the cathedral the bells were pealing!  And there was a wedding going on.  The bride and groom were having their picture taken on the steps.

Inside you can attend a service, or light a candle - pray privately.  I lit a candle for Mom, said a prayer for all those grieving the loss of a loved one.  St. Paul’s is also a working church.  They still hold services every day.  I really wanted to attend evensong, when the entire service is sung.  Maybe I’ll go back before my journey is done.

I walked down the nave toward the altar, stood there and looked up at the soaring dome.  No words can describe it.  Then I walked up the 257 steps to what’s called the Whispering Gallery that overlooks the cathedral floor.  This is about 90 feet above the floor.  Then I decided to go ahead and walk up a further 119 steps to the Stone Gallery.  The steps are smaller and steeper now.  Yikes.  And when I come out onto the gallery, I’m outside!  Lovely, cool breeze.  Beautiful view of London and the Thames.  Now I’m 175 feet above the ground!  If you look at the picture of St. Paul’s that I posted, the Stone Gallery is just below the dome.

NOW I decide I might as well go ahead and climb the remaining 152 steps to the Golden Gallery.  Very narrow steps, very tight and close.  I was definitely nervous climbing these stairs.  They reminded me of the spiral metal stairs in the Statue of Liberty, up to the crown.  The problem is, you can see DOWN.  So I concentrated on each step right in front of me, one at a time.  Just before you step outside there’s a square of glass cut into the floor and you can look through it, see all the way down to the cathedral floor!  I got a picture of my feet standing over this strange looking-glass.  Then I stepped outside onto the Golden Gallery, and now I'm 280 feet above the ground!  If you look at that picture again, the Golden Gallery is that little band circling the spire just above the dome.  From up there I could see the dome below me – very surreal.  Had to keep away from the railing.  And there’s only room for one person at a time around the Golden Gallery, single file around the railing.  Scary, but exhilarating.  I’m posting a picture of the view from there.

So I climbed a total of 528 steps, up and down.  My legs were a bit wobbly when I got to the floor, and I was glad to be on the ground again.  Down to the crypt for lunch.  Mozzarella and tomato on a baguette, and chocolate cake.  And this really great Victorian lemonade.  Had ginger in it.  Never would’ve paired those two, but it works!  Sat with a lady named Bridget and we had a lovely conversation.  She’s from Tipperary in Ireland, but she's lived in London for quite awhile now, since her husband died.  She loves London, told me she'd always wanted to come and visit, bring her kids, but her husband worked in London and never wanted to come back in on the weekends.  Turns out her favorite place to walk is in Hampton Court gardens, which so far has been my favorite place in England!

Then in the middle of our conversation the fire alarm goes off!  Lol…  Had to stuff my chocolate cake (always save the cake!) into a napkin and haul it out of St. Paul’s.  Everything was okay and they let us back in about 15 minutes later.  I finished my visit by walking through the crypt.  Saw Florence Nightingale’s tomb and learned more about the history of St. Paul’s.  There’s been a church on this site since 604!  Can you believe that?  The first two cathedrals burned down, the 2nd in the Great Fire of 1666 that decimated London.  Then Christopher Wren designed the cathedral we see today.  It was struck twice by bombs during the blitz in World War II, and badly damaged, but still standing.  There’s a wonderful picture of the cathedral after the bombing.  I can only imagine how it must have made the people of London feel – their city being attacked day after day after day – to look up and see, soaring into the sky, the dome of St. Paul’s – still there.  How comforting.


07/28/2013 7:24am

Oh, my! You have more stamina/nerve than I do! I bet your legs *were* a bit wobbly when you descended!

There, right beside St. Paul's, is the busy, commercial street with the funny name "Cheapside." I've read that that Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and Dickens have all mentioned Cheapside in their works! Really, you can't take a step in London without standing atop some renowned spot, can you?

07/28/2013 8:21am

No, you can't, it's true! When I first arrived I wanted to take pics of every single building b/c they all look so elegant and old. That went away after I realized 80% of the buildings look like that here. And coming back from Hampton Court the other day I happened to be standing right in front of the club where the Rolling Stones first performed! One Kew Road... Went to the old operating theatre today. Did you go? I thought you might have b/c Florence Nightingale started her nursing school there, at St. Thomas's Hospital!

07/28/2013 8:29am

You went to the Old Operating Theatre?!! Omg, yes, I did go there! Isn't it incredible? I have a real interest in Victorian-era medical history, so that place blew me away. And that front section, where all the botanicals were concocted...wow!


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