4/52 St Paul’s Cathedral
*I know I missed out number three – that’s because I’m not blogging about all of the things I cross off my list, for example, I went to Liberty’s Department store as my 3/52, but apart from some interesting architecture, and the fact that I’ve personally always wanted to see it, there wasn’t that much to blog about! Soz *
The area surrounding St Paul’s Cathedral is an affluent business district, with an amazing selection of eateries, and a nearby shopping centre. The Cathedral towers over the surrounding parks and there is plenty of opportunity to walk around the Cathedral, explore the small gardens, and have lunch or a coffee with one of the best views in London. It’s very expensive (£15+) to enter the Cathedral as a tourist, although you do get to explore the entire space as well as the famous whispering gallery under the dome.
Rob and I chose a slightly more thrifty option, and enjoyed the view and the gorgeous surrounding district. I’ve since visited a few times and would highly recommend the nearby Wasabi sushi cafe, which sells sushi plates, soups and Japanese curries, as well as the type of ‘rice triangles’ stuffed with meat or vegetables which Rob and I ate almost constantly in Japan! It’s reasonably priced and super healthy if you have to make a stop for lunch. If sushi’s not your bag, stop by the Earl of Sandwich, directly in front of the Cathedral, which sells a delicious range of hot and cold sandwiches (the really yummy full-of-ingredients kind) and salads (if you hate life, and sandwiches, and yourself… but, whatever.)
Just down the road (follow the signs from St Paul’s underground station), is St Bartholomew’s Hospital, which is full of history and is always worth a look. Both of my maternal grandparents did their medical training at St Barts so it’s a pretty special place for me. It also happens to be the hospital where the latest incarnation of Dr Watson works, and keen Sherlock fans can go and look at the exact corner of roof from which he jumped! (Saddo alert: I discovered this by accident because I’ve seen that episode too many times. And I was stoked)
Anyway, I really did want to get a look inside the Cathedral, so I returned a couple of days later to attend an Evensong service. All of the Cathedral’s services are open to the public free of charge, and Evensong happens at 5pm almost every day. I did find it a little daunting to just walk in and attend the service, but it was actually lovely. I just headed in at the main entrance, and went to the front of the church where they handed out service sheets, and was then allowed to choose to sit either directly under the (stunning) dome, or to go through a little gate into the area where the choir are seated. The huge ceiling and the vast hall make the service, which primarily consists of choral singing, sound amazing.
I didn’t have a very good view because I was right at the back of the chancel (the bit where the peasants sit is called the nave, and then there’s the middle bit where the important man stands, and then the chancel where the choir sits), but I did spy some adorable choir boys, complete with stiff white collars, and a lone female chorister (I briefly wondered if she had snuck in when the choir master wasn’t looking). Opposite me (the pews face each other in the chancel, not that you peasants would know that) 😉 a young guy who was part of the congregation was quietly singing along (very proficiently) to the alto part of each song, and I think I enjoyed watching him as much as I enjoyed watching the mini choir boys get their cassocks in a twist trying to remember to stand up and sit down at the right time. Adorable.
I would definitely recommend going to a service. Despite the pomp and circumstance, it was very laid back, and the interior of the Cathedral really is awesome.
Big Love, PV x