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St Pauls Cathedral Library London

Restoration of historic religious building in England: Architecture design by Sir Christopher Wren architect

13 October 2023

St Paul’s Cathedral reopens Library to the public following five-year restoration project

St Pauls Cathedral Library London building

Photos by St Paul’s Cathedral / Graham Lacdao

Location: St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD, England, UK

St Pauls Cathedral Library Restoration

12th October 2023 – St Paul’s Cathedral has reopened its Library to members of the public, after five years of restoration work starting in 2018. As part of the conservation project, St Paul’s has cleaned and packed the books and manuscripts, painted the walls, designed a new lighting scheme, constructed desks for readers and a new display case, along with numerous other changes. In total, the number of books and manuscripts that were cleaned, recorded, packed, moved off and back on-site is over 10,000.

St Pauls Cathedral Library building interior

Situated at Triforium level behind the south-west tower, St Paul’s Library was completed in 1709. Prior to the recent restoration project, the only significant modifications to this eighteenth-century space had been to install electrical lighting in 1902 and a heating system shortly after. The Library shelves had not been emptied since the Second World War, when their contents were transported to Wales for safe keeping during the Blitz. The refurbishment was made possible through the generous donations of a number of St Paul’s benefactors.

St Pauls Cathedral Library London building interior

The Library’s collection was almost completely destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, but Sir Christopher Wren’s Library chamber was restocked by the Commisioners for rebuilding St Paul’s following the damage. St Paul’s was given rare Bibles and liturgical texts, and even received two thousand volumes from the Library of Henry Compton, the late Bishop of London in 1712.

Today the Library’s historical collection focuses on theology, church history and patristics (the study of early Christianity in the period stretching from the end of the New Testament to the early Middle Ages). The listings of the texts which are contained in the Library go as far back as 1313.

St Pauls Cathedral Library stone decoration

Members of the public can visit the Library through booking the Triforium tour of the Cathedral or by making an appointment to access the collections.

Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Very Revd Andrew Tremlett, commented:

The Cathedral Library is a remarkable room, and remains one of Sir Christopher Wren’s great achievements. It is fitting that, as we mark 300 years since his death, his Library is able to reopen after five years of painstaking restoration.

“With books, manuscripts, Bibles and liturgical texts dating back hundreds of years, the newly restored Library will provide visitors and researchers with a deeper insight into church history and theology, inspiring new generations to engage with their relationship with the Christian faith.”

“We welcome all those across London and the globe to come and visit the Library and learn more about one of London’s best preserved 18th century interiors.”

Photos: St Paul’s Cathedral/ Graham Lacdao

To find out more and book tickets to view the Library on the Triforium tour, please click here – public Triforium tour. Alternatively, to book an appointment to access the collections, please click here – access collections.

Previously on e-architect:

26 April 2023

St Paul’s Cathedral exhibition to commemorate Sir Christopher Wren

St Pauls Cathedral London building

Photos : St Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral Exhibition

For more information see exhibition to commemorate Sir Christopher Wren

St Paul’s Cathedral London Building Photos

St Pauls Cathedral London building 2021
photograph © Adrian Welch

St Pauls Cathedral London building 2021
photo © Adrian Welch

Location: central / east London, north of the River Thames

Date: 1675-1710

Architect: Christopher Wren

St Pauls Cathedral London building
photo © Adrian Welch

St Paul’s Cathedral Funding

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Christopher Wren Architect

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Restoration building designs

Location: St Pauls Cathedral, London, England, United Kingdom

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