To see a World in a Grain of Sand
After seeing The Tower of London, we felt much closer to London’s past, it’s a place full of intimate relations that can only be appreciated by walking them with your feet. Do you have the same feeling when you are traveling?
We walked on the outer ring of the Tower of London, with the Tower Bridge right beside the Thames river. How beautiful it is! we couldn’t help but be wowed by the view. Although the crowd was huge at both ends of the bridge, by the riverside, it is nice to just hang around the banks when the sun is out. We keep walking to George Inn for a beer and lunch break which was a gallery favorited by Charles Dickens. We liked this place very much, and I will write a post later because it was truly a nice place for food and atmosphere, so much so we stayed longer than we planned.
Now, there is another landmark we would like to talk about today- St. Paul’s Cathedral. Not far away from the Tower of London, about 20 mins walk, the significant dome is located in a nice neighborhood surrounded by a park. The Dome reminded me so much St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. but on a smaller scale which gave me a friendly welcome. It’s surely more “tourist-friendly” compared to Westminster Abbey, fewer tourists, clear direction signs, you can get in immediately without any line since we booked the tickets online ahead, in a breeze we are inside this beautiful church.
The original church dated back to 604 when they tended to be short-lived structures. The church suffered massive damage in two separate fires, as well as in The Great Fire of London in 1666.
Nowadays what we see is the fifth version. The site was built between 1675 and 1710 and was designed by architect Sir Christopher Wren (who was influenced by Michelangelo’s dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome). I called it hehe! 🙂
It was the first cathedral planned after the Reformation of the Church in England but by the 16th century, the building was starting to decay.
The violent transition from Roman Catholicism and the debate over the reformed faith were sensitive and even iconoclast times so, particularly because of the Chantries Acts, the church suffered the destruction of ornaments and shrines.
okay… Henry VIII, certainly you are the reformer of England, and we completely feel it! similar to Westminster Abbey, St. Paul has the same spirit- We are Protestant, we are Britain! until the 19th century, Queen Victoria once complained that the building had become “dark, dingy and undevotional” so she ordered it embellished with decoration which had been avoided since the Reformation. Therefore the mosaics now decorate the ceiling and walls of the quire were installed in 1896-1904, design by William Blake Richmond. It is truly unique to see the mosaic is telling stories from the Old Testament and Greek mythology. fascinating!
The tradition of public and royal services are held here, such as Katherine of Aragon marries Prince Arthur, who is the brother of Henry VIII, 1897 Queen Victoria choose to commemorate her diamond jubilee here, celebrating her sixtieth year on the throne. The royal wedding of The Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.
The quire has a super Britain style, dark redwood chair with embellished a tint of gold carvings, and red lamps fixed in sequence, I like the elegance here.
Behind the altar is the Jesus Chapel: The American Memorial Chapel, which dedicated to Americans who were killed in WWII. England and American have such a good relationship
At the left side of the Quire, there is a lovely sculpture Mother and Child by Henry Moore, we love this sculpture, a very clean, semi-abstract shape, it reminded me of La Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica with the composition. there are more sculptures by him in Tate Britain later we discovered.
Since we didn’t notice the time flies so fast when you are having fun, in a blink of an eye we only have 30 mins left before they close the church. We decided to go downstairs, the crypt to see the monuments.
Two remarkable heroes Nelson and Wellington’s tombs are here, the memorial of Florence Nightingale is here, but in our minds what we must see as huge literature fans is Turner and William Blake. We were a little bit anxious we may not see his memorial as it kinda is hidden at the very end of the right side of the crypt, with the dull light we took a while to find him. So glad we make it! to us, Blake is the spirit of Britain, his intelligence and talents are profound and bold! on his memorial was written one of his famous poems Auguries of innocence:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
Ah… Blake, thank you, thank you for giving us these beautiful words, it moved me every time I read these, the world is inspiring with this pure heart, to create beauty and eternity. We said goodbye to him with heart-filled. I like the intimacy little corner than the Poet corner in Westminster just because I read the poem.
We were so rewarded after greeting Blake and Turner, walked to the outside, we finally take a good look at the Cathedral, a statue of Queen Anne is right in front of the Cathedral. after watching the movie Favorite, she is on my list of wanting to know more about her in this London trip. now after a whole day of adventure, we are looking forward to seeing the Sky Garden! I hope you enjoyed today’s sharing, very soon Sky Garden will be up!
Tips for visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Book your ticket on their official website! It has a discount price that will save you a lot of time and get the advantage of entering early!
- I highly suggest also buy the guide book when you are booking your ticket, you will get 1 pound cheaper than buying at the front desk.
- Be sure to check out the official website to see the tours, events and opening time, then plan accordingly.
- There are some galleries in the church that all required to climb up on narrow steps, unfortunately, we did not have a chance to do it because we were running late, but definitely recommend to do it. you can check the info here.
- Whispering Gallery is currently closed until Dec 2019 due to an incident.
- Recommend at least plan to spend 1.5-2 hours here to fully enjoy it.
- Be respectful by talking in low volume.
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