Monday, 13 July 2009

St. Paul’s Cathedral Library

Slideshow of St. Paul's and King's College

photo from

July 13: At St. Paul's Cathedral, we had a behind the scenes tour with Librarian Joseph Wisdom. The geometric staircase at St. Paul’s Cathedral was used in Prisoner of Azkaban as the staircase that leads to the astronomy tower/Professor Trelawny’s classroom ( This is not on the public tour and we were allowed to take pictures but cannot post them to the web. Email me to see my private photos! The current structure is the fourth cathedral on the site, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built between 1675 and 1710. The Trophy room has the Great Model of 1673-4, Wren’s model of his plan for St. Paul’s. There are sketches of the different models Wren submitted. The room was originally designated to be the library, but never served as a library. This could be because St. Paul’s was on the list for copyright deposit and was anticipating far more books than it received. Of special note in this room is the stonework, including books with clasps. Wisdom pointed out some of the renovations within the Cathedral and explained the building is not stagnant, it changes with the times.
The library is in the North Triforium and is not a part of the daily guided tours of the Cathedral.

photo from

The library's collection was almost completely destroyed in the Great Fire of London. Wren's library chamber was restocked by the Commissioners for rebuilding St Paul's: they bought collections, including valuable Bibles and liturgical texts, and were fortunate to receive a generous bequest in 1712 of nearly two thousand volumes from the library of Henry Compton, late Bishop of London.

The subject strength of the historical collections lies in theology, church history and patristics. Current acquisitions are restricted to major works on the history of the Church in England, on Wren and the building of the Cathedral, the Church in the City, and 'alumni' material.

The first professional Librarian was hired in 1980. The library is open to any researcher. The collection has 20,000 bibliographic items in 13,500 volumes. The oldest book in the collection is the Book of Psalms, from the late 12th or early 13th century. The collection has copies of Bibles in Latin and all of the languages of the Bible.

Memorable quotes from Librarian Joseph Wisdom:

“Historically, there is no division between museums, archives and libraries.”
The room has a high ceiling where “ideas can float.”
“Annotate your own books,
Don’t annotate books in your care.”


We also saw the medieval structure Temple Bar (it used to have a bar across the front). The middle archway was for horse carts, the side passages were for pedestrians. Temple Bar is the original surviving gate to the “City of London.”

group pic at Temple Bar

Walked Millennium Bridge on the way back from St. Paul’s. I have been seeing Wicked signs everywhere, even on the red telephone booths. I'm excited to see Wicked in London!
follow the yellow brick road
Dressed up for the Welcome Reception in the historic Great Hall at King’s College. Went to our designated local pub, Stamford Arms and got to know some of my new friends in class and met some locals too!
new friends at Stamford Arms Pub
People have been very friendly and easy to meet here. Everyone has different advice on social life and music scene, so much to offer here!

Pictures from St. Paul's and King's College

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