The Archaeology of St Paul’s Cathedral
Lecture by John Schofield
Given at Museum of London on October 27, 2014
Recent work has brought together what we know of the Anglo-Saxon and medieval cathedrals beneath and around Wren’s St Paul’s, the City of London’s most important historic building and monument.
Now the little-known medieval cathedral, destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, can be revealed as of European importance. It dominated the City and should be compared with other cathedrals – Ely, Norwich and Winchester.
Excerpt: The cathedral was rebuilt into its gigantic medieval form from 1087. The form of the eastern arm and transepts of the Romanesque cathedral were suggested by Richard Gem in 1990, and their significance hinted at, though not much could be said as the information was so exiguous. The London region was where a fully-developed style of Romanesque architecture might be expected before the Norman Conquest, and the rebuilding of the cathedral from 1087 would fit into this context. The presbytery of four bays and underlying crypt place St Paul’s alongside the major church projects at Winchester and Bury St Edmunds; its long nave also suggests that its building was intended to rival or stand as an equal to Winchester. Its nave elevation may have derived from St-Etienne in Caen. The analysis of moulded stones (architectural fragments) from the recent excavations, probably from the nave, has filled out this picture and identified one main building stone as from Taynton in Oxfordshire. The plotting of the outline of the whole church, from all the evidence, has suggested the size and arrangement of the building for the first time since the work of the cathedral surveyor Francis Penrose in the 1870s.