• Andrew Dennison

The Tombs of St Pauls Crypt

The crypt of St Pauls Cathedral in London is the largest in Europe, it runs the complete length of the building above.

There are many tombs and memorials here, from the painter Joshua Reynolds, sculptor Henry Moore, scientist Alexander Fleming to the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens and poet William Blake.

The creator of the Cathedral, Sir Christopher Wren, is buried in the south aisle in the east of the crypt, surrounded by tributes to his family. An epitaph in latin reads "Reader if you seek his monument, look around you"

Wren died in 1723 at the grand age of 91.

Admiral Horatio Nelson occupies the best spot down here in the crypt, as he was the first person of national importance to be buried at St Pauls, so he is right under the dome. Thousands lined the streets of London for his state funeral on the ninth of January 1806.

As you can see, Nelsons tomb is very regal, the sarcophagus was carved in the early sixteenth century, it was originally to be for Cardinal Wolsey, but was put in storage for a few hundred years when Wolsey fell out with the King.

The tomb was lowered through a specially designed hole in the Cathedral floor, to this spot in the centre of the crypt.

Not far from here is the final resting place of another British war hero, Arthur Duke of Wellington. His splendid tomb is made of Cornish granite.

The Chapel of The Order of the British Empire above occupies the eastern end of the crypt, and was opened in 1960 by Her Majesty the Queen.

The OBE is closely associated with St Pauls, and has over 130 thousand members.

The glass screen at the entrance is engraved with portraits of George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Weddings and baptisms regularly take place here, but they are reserved for members of the order and their family. There is currently a two year waiting list.

The Chapel is also known as St Faiths, after St Faiths Church that was attached to the old St Pauls Cathedral that was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666.

During the rebuilding of St Pauls this Chapel was dedicated to St Faith as it was close to the foundations of the former Church.

In 2004 the Churchill Memorial Gates were installed, separating the OBE Chapel from Nelsons and Wellingtons tombs. The gates were created by James Horrobin and his team to commemorate the concern shown by Churchill for the safety of St Pauls, during World War Two.

Also down here in the crypt is St Pauls Cathedral shop, where along with the usual gifts and souvenirs, members of the OBE can purchase special gifts, where all proceeds go towards maintenance of the orders Chapel.

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