St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral with medieval steeple.
Detail from The City of London before the burning of St Paul's steeple by Giles Godet
© Pepys Library, Magdalene College Cambridge
Origin/Date: London || 1565

St Paul’s has been the cathedral church of the City of London since the 7th century. During his lifetime Thomas Becket was made a canon of the cathedral, although there is no record of him attending to his duties there (see Becket and London in his lifetime).

After his death an altar was dedicated to him in the cathedral church. By the 15th century it was believed that Becket’s parents were buried in a chapel in the ‘Pardon Churchyard’ in the angle between the nave and the north transept. This became an important site of civic ceremonial, particularly as part of the annual mayoral procession.


In England since the twelfth century, a chapel has meant either a part of a church containing an altar and used for worship, or a free-standing building used in a similar way. It can also mean a place of worship in a private house. The term comes from the ‘capella’ or cloak of St Martin, a major relic in France, the name of which was first applied to the building where the cloak was kept and eventually to other religious buildings.


A consecrated table or block used to celebrate the Eucharist. In the Middle Ages it would have contained relics.


Priest who is part of a group of clergy attached to a cathedral (also called Secular Canon). 


Church which contains the throne of the bishop and hence the mother church of the diocese, from the Latin ‘cathedra' meaning ‘throne.' 

Thomas Becket

 English Archbishop (Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162) and martyr, famously murdered by knights at Canterbury Cathedral after a dispute with Henry II. Miracles were soon recorded at his tomb. Canonised in 1173, his shrine became one of the most popular pilgrimage centres in Christendom. Patron saint of London with St Paul.


A portion of a cross-shaped church, usually a hall crossing the nave at a right angle.