Saturday, October 08, 2005

16 Aug 05: St Paul's Cathedral

After having continental breakfast at the hotel, I bought a day ticket from the Russell Square tube station and headed for St Paul's Cathedral. The nearest tube station is St Paul's tube station.



I headed there quite early in the morning. When I reached St Paul's Cathedral, it was so early that there were only a few people around. No photography was allowed within the premises. As such, when I was at the souvenir shop inside St Paul's Cathedral, I bought myself several postcards of the Cathedral.

To have some clues how the interiors of St Paul's Cathedral would look like, you may like to visit its official website: http://www.stpauls.co.uk, and look under "Visit St Pauls".

The history of St Paul's Cathedral could be dated back to 604AD. The first cathedral was built on the same site dedicated to St Paul. The current cathedral is the fourth to occupy the current site. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and was built between 1675 and 1710 after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London.

Because I was in need to visit the Ladies soon after I reached St Paul's Cathedral, my first stop was the toilet that was situated in the Crypt. After visiting the Ladies, I realised that the Crypt has been serving as a burial place for many important and eminent figures. In the Crypt lies the tombs of Admiral Lord Nelson, Lord Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren. It was a pity that I was not able to view the tomb of Admiral Nelson as there were some works going on where his tomb was situated.

After the Crypt, I walked about the Cathedral. The interiors are elaborately furnished. The only disappointment was that I was too early to join a guided tour of the Cathedral. But if I had been patient to wait for a guided tour, I fear I might be too late to walk about other parts of London. I was due to leave London on 17 Aug 05, London time.

SH told me that instead of spending money to take the London Eye, I could walk up to the top of St Paul's Cathedral and take a good view of London. As such, I took the physical challenge to walk up the 530 steps from ground-level to the Golden Gallery, which is the highest point of the Cathedral accessible to the public.

At the entrance, I could see a signage that reminds visitors to respect the Cathedral and its property, and warns visitors that any act of vandalism will not be tolerated upon. It even warns that should vandalism occur beyond control, the authorities of the Cathedral may have to take the painful measure of stopping the public from gaining access to the stairways that leads to the various galleries. It was disappointing to see the walls vandalised by previous visitors. No way would I join their league.

After walking 259 steps up from ground-level, I reached the Whispering Gallery. As its name suggest, the gallery is constructed such that when someone makes a whisper against the wall on one side of the gallery, the whisper will be audible to someone from the opposite of the gallery. It was fascinating. When I was at the gallery, I did not speak. However, a few visitors who were across me at the opposite of the gallery were speaking softly. But be warned, they have been eavesdropped by yours truly unintentionally. I could hear them pretty clearly. From the Whispering Gallery, I looked up the interior designs of the dome. It was beautiful.

More climbing was to be done after leaving the Whispering Gallery. I have more steps to climb before I could reach the Golden Gallery. I hope I could make it there. The first 259 steps were manageable because the stairs were wider and broader. But I soon found the stairs to get progressively narrower and I had to be more careful in keeping my balance as I climbed up the stairs.

When I reached the Stone Gallery which is 378 steps from ground-level, I was delighted by the view. See the post St Paul's Cathedral on my other blog for the pictures. Seeing that there was no religious elements at the Stone Gallery, I asked the security guard who was sitting at the Stone Gallery if I could take pictures of the London city from the Stone Gallery. She said "Yes, you could. Thank you for asking." Yes, those words pleased me. But I realised the weather was not the most ideal for photography so I did not get many good photographs from the galleries.

Now the greatest challenge, to climb up to the Golden Gallery. The stairways was very narrow and much steeper by the time I climbed up to the Golden Gallery. I was frightened that I may slip and fall, but I realised that if I could just stay focused and ignore those imagined fears, I would be able to reach the Golden Gallery. I realised that I was more worried about going down the stairs on the return journey down.


The stairs up from the Stone Gallery to the Golden Gallery.

***
Anyway, I let out a sigh of relief when I reached the Golden Gallery. I saw a security guard there, and I asked him how he manages to walk up everyday to the Golden Gallery. I also told him I was worried about going down the stairs. He assured me it was easier to go down than to come up. If I could come up, it would be easier going down. He asked that I stay focused on walking the stairs instead of looking down at those spaces underneathe those staircases made from metal.



I took this photo after "surviving" the long climb up to the Golden Gallery. Phew.

****
Indeed like SH had said, I could get a relatively good view of London from the Golden Gallery. Thank goodness the Golden Gallery was relatively free from people, so I was able to take my time to walk about the rather narrow corridors of the Golden Gallery. While taking pictures there, I had to be very careful not to have my camera slipped out of my hand, or worse, to have myself fall down from the Golden Gallery. I felt I have to be careful. I was high above the grounds, almost alone and only protected from falling by the railings.

Going down was easier. I suppose the assurances from the security guard whom I had met had helped too. Yes, I have 'conquered' the Golden Gallery of St Pauls.

Below is my best picture of St Pauls which I have dedicated to my friend, Xiaofen, in one of my earlier posts.



For more pictures of St Pauls, please check out St Paul's Cathedral on my other blog.

(References: Please refer to the links on this post.)

4 comments:

Simple American said...

It was kind of neat to follow you through St. Pauls. I remember that it was in the Da Vinci Code I think. I remember they did something in the tombs. Don't want to spoil if you have not read it.

Anonymous said...

thnx your information was very useful becuase most blogs turn out to be irrelevant to what you look for but yours was useful.

oceanskies79 said...

Anon: You are welcome. Thanks for leaving a comment.

Anonymous said...

Cheers you discribe it like when I was there climbing those same stairs,.. My legs were like rubber by the time I reached the top,.. The skyline took your mind off of the knowledge of going back down lol