The Bits Of St Paul’s Cathedral You Won’t Get To See

St Paul’s Cathedral isn’t just massive, it’s also intricate. Beyond the public areas lurks a complex network of passages, rooms, stairs and voids that would (and did) keep Lara Croft happy for weeks. So labyrinthine is this building that even its chief surveyor admits there are rooms he’s not yet visited.

We were lucky enough to be given a private tour of some of these spaces. We clambered over the roof, onto the ledges, met the conservators, visited the bell chamber and — most oddly of all — passed through the ‘Sick Room’, which has always smelled of vomit and nobody knows why.

We’re working on a short video of the experience, which will be available soon. For now, enjoy a few photos from the bits of St Paul’s that very few people get to see.

While most of the areas shown above are off-limits, the cathedral organises regular tours of some of the larger ‘behind the scenes’ spaces, including the library, ‘Hogwarts’ staircase and giant model of St Paul’s. More info on those can be found here. The main parts of the Cathedral can, of course, be visited any time during normal opening hours, and it remains — first and foremost — a busy working church.

With thanks to Ed Holmes and Oliver Caroe from St Paul’s for the fascinating tour.

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  • David W

    wow…looking forward to seeing the video..that peep hole..vertigo and claustrophobia…

  • Mike J

    When I was working there onece (on Charles and Di wedding) one of the staff told me that it was sometimes possible to smell the remains of the plague victims buried under the crypt. However that was only possible in early morning as the visitors smelt far worse!!

  • Thomas Ross (aka AppleTom)

    Awesome! Thank You!

  • DH

    Fantastic treat. Intrepid reporting! Thank you!

  • Ms-Marple

    Worked there once also…highlights include.. the Library, the vertiginous staircase between the two domes that staff use to get to the top of dome quickly, the plastic replica of Lady Diana’s wedding bouquet, the early lemon light in the morning before anyone else arrived…can’t wait to see the video..

  • nick

    I don’t get you guys sometimes…. you quite happily cherry pick the best quality work out of your Flickr pool (for free….) from the generous enthusiasts & photographers in London who contribute – and use these for advertising & events and article illustration. Then you get access to these incredible places all us Londoners would all love a glimpse of and take $hitty phone pictures, from a non-photographer to share with us all. sigh…… Seriously. You can’t do better than that, or offer to take someone from your Flickr pool, who’s work you’ve been using for free in the past? Or something… you tell me Londonist.

    • MattFromLondonist

      We took a very good camera in there…as we say, this is just a taster for the video, which is coming soon.

      • Nick

        Look forward to seeing the video Matt. Shame about the stills though – a taster is better if it’s actually tasty ;-) Either way – a good camera still needs a good operator. Cheers, Nick.

  • Richard Wood

    I have had an extensive tour when in the fire brigade for familiarization purposes. So much of it is double skinned in order to keep the laity and clergy apart. Above every door is a small coded plaque with different colours for different area and staircases. This is to help crews if they have to move through the building in smoke. The strangest thing I saw was the staircase sign above a door that when opened gave onto a toilet. We asked our guide why the sign was wrong. He told us to go and sit on the loo, which one of us did and started laughing. Behind the door was another small staircase. If you started something on that privvy you would have to be quick if you heard footsteps on the stairs.