I had a Tesco Clubcard voucher for St Paul’s that needed to be used by the end of this month and this was pretty much the only time I had free in March to go so after lunch we headed to St Pauls. As I mentioned it didn’t open until after 2:30pm but it was closer to 3pm when we got there and with it closing at 5 this meant we only had a couple of hours to see the whole thing which definitely wasn’t enough. Especially when they started herding us out at 4:30pm.
St Paul’s is one of the most magnificent old buildings in London with its instantly recognisable domed roof being a significant part of the London skyline. Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside the cathedral as it is still very much a place of worship first and foremost but they are opening up to a lucky 300 photographers on the 8th April for the Surprise St Paul’s competition which if I wasn’t flying home that same night I would definitely be buying a ticket. More details can be found here.
Included in the cost of each ticket is the use of an audio guide which directs you to various parts of the cathedral and explains them in more detail. This is a fantastic but it was difficult to follow as it covers the core parts before going on to smaller areas rather than following a logical order. I guess this is so you can decide which parts you want to see over others but I found it quite frustrating.
The magnum opus of course is the beautiful domed ceiling which you can go pretty much right to the top of. There isn’t an elevator so you have to be prepared for the climb. It’s 257 steps to the whispering gallery where it’s said that you can stand on opposite sides and hear someone whispering to you as clearly as if you were standing next to each other. A further 121 steps takes you to the stone gallery where you get your first glimpse across London.
The views from here are great but not as magical as from the golden gallery a further 152 steps consisting mostly of open wrought iron spiral staircases which I wasn’t a fan of at all. The walkway of the golden gallery is very narrow so you may have to wait a while before you get to step foot outside but I promise you it’s worth it.
Going back down is even worse than going up and by the time we got to the bottom my legs were like jelly and I had to have a wee rest before hitting the crypts. Sadly I didn’t get to see much of this as we were ushered out far too quickly for my liking.
The on the door price for St Paul’s Cathedral is £17 which I think is actually quite reasonable given the rich history of the structure and the fact that the audio guide is included with every tour. You could easily spend twice as long in there than we did just soaking everything in.