St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral is a London landmark and a British icon.
A cathedral dedicated to St Paul has overlooked the City of London since 604 A.D. In 2004, the Diocese of London celebrated its 1,400th anniversary.
The current cathedral, the fourth to occupy the Ludgate Hill site, was designed by court architect Sir Christopher Wren. It was built between 1675 and 1710 after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.
St Paul's is built of Portland stone in a late Renaissance to baroque style. Its impressive dome, inspired by St Peter's Basilica in Rome, is the third largest in the world. It rises 108 metres (365 feet) to the cross at its summit.
People and events of the utmost importance to the country have been celebrated, mourned and commemorated at St Paul's since the first service took place in 1697. Significant events and services in St Paul's 20th century history include:
1901: A memorial service for Queen Victoria, held at the same time as her burial took place at Windsor.
1935: King George V's Silver Jubilee service.
1939: The St Paul's Fire Watch is re-formed to help City firemen fight the first incendiary bombs of the Second World War.
1940: The cathedral is a target during the Blitz.
1944: The cathedral bells, silent earlier in the war, ring out to celebrate the liberation of Paris.
1945: Ten simple services are held to mark V.E. Day, the end of the war in Europe. An estimated 35,000 people attend.
1951: King George VI opens the Festival of Britain from St Paul's.
1964: United States human rights campaigner Martin Luther King preaches at St Paul's on his way to Oslo to collect the Nobel Peace Prize.
1965: The funeral of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
1968: St Paul's reflects the mood of the 'swinging sixties' by holding a Festival of Youth, featuring pop singer Mary Hopkin.
1977: A service is held to mark Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee.
1981: The marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales, to Lady Diana Spencer.
1992: The Queen Mother attends the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Friends of St Paul's.
1995: A 50th anniversary service for V.E. Day, the end of the Second World War in Europe.
1997: The 300th anniversary of St Paul's Cathedral.
2000: Service celebrating the 100th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen Mother.
St Paul's symbolised the strength of London and Britain during the Second World War. Photographs of the cathedral amid the destruction of the Blitz are among the most defining images of the 20th century.
The cathedral's prominent and recognisable form on the skyline is protected from many vantage points. The height of new buildings within or close to the sightline between St Paul's and selected places is limited specifically to retain the impressive view. Unobstructed views of the cathedral can be seen from King Henry VIII's Mound in Richmond Park, from Parliament Hill by Hampstead Heath and from the central London bridges of Waterloo and Hungerford.In 2000, a major restoration and facility upgrade programme began at the cathedral. It is scheduled for completion in 2008.
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