On this day in history : 2nd December 1697 – The opening of the new St. Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Christopher Wren following the destruction of the old St. Paul’s in the Great Fire of London….

Image credit : Mark Fosh via Flickr

The old St. Paul’s, which had been consecrated in 1240, had been gutted by the fire…. It could have been reconstructed but the decision was made to rebuild a new and more modern style cathedral…. Christopher Wren was appointed to design the new building on the 30th of July 1669…. In all Wren was responsible for the design of more than 50 of the city’s new churches….

Reconstructed image of the old St. Paul’s – Public domain

He was asked to make sure that the new St. Paul’s was ‘Handsome and noble to all ends of it and to the reputation of the city and the nation”…. The design took him several years and the result was the second largest church in Britain, with its dome proclaimed the finest in the world….

The cathedral was financed by a tax on coal and took 35 years to complete – although the first service was held 22 years into its construction…. It was finally declared complete on Christmas Day 1711…. By 1716 the cost of the build had accumulated to £1,095,556 (over £165m in today’s terms)…. The new St. Paul’s was consecrated on the 2nd of December 1697, 31 years and 3 months after the Great Fire….

Image credit : Diliff – own work – CC BY-SA 3.0

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