Before the St Paul's we know and love there was another St Paul's. It was larger than Wren's masterpiece. Indeed, at an original height of 150 metres, it was the tallest structure ever built in the city until the mid-20th century. Like much of medieval London, it was irreparably damaged in the Great Fire of 1666, and later torn down.
But now it's back, at least in digital form. Researchers at North Carolina State university have built an audio-visual model of the cathedral and its environs as part of the Virtual Paul's Cross Project. This aims to transport viewers back to 1622, when John Donne gave an important sermon from Paul's Cross, an outdoor pulpit long-since demolished.
The researchers built a three-dimensional model of Paul's Cross, including the surrounding open space, nearby dwellings and the cathedral itself — but not for the sake of historical eye-candy. This model is all about the sound.
They used acoustic mapping software to see how Donne's voice would have bounced off different materials such as stone, glass and wood, to reverberate around the courtyard. Crowds of up to 5,000 would attend his sermons. The model allows researchers to guess how well he'd have been heard from different positions, and with different crowd sizes. Here, for example, is the experience from a crowd of 500, not far from the front.
More information on the location and the creation of the model can be found here.
The visualisation follows swiftly after the recent model of 17th century London presented by students from De Montfort University.