on August 31, 2011
We climbed down the steps to the lowest part of the Cathedral. St Paul’s crypt is the largest in Europe and is the "final resting place" for many of the nation’s greatest heroes, poets and scientists - people must have made an outstanding contribution to the life of the nation to be buried here. The audio tour doesn’t cover the Crypt so you need to check out the additional leaflet that will guide you around the memorials to Britain’s great names. The famous Lord Nelson, killed in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, was buried in St Paul's after a state funeral. His coffin was made out of the timber from a French ship that he defeated in battle. Interestingly the black marble sarcophagus that adorns his tomb was originally intended for Cardinal Wolsey who was Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII. After Wolsey's "fell from grace" it remained unused at Windsor awaiting the death of a person who would merit such a magnificent piece of "tombware". Nelson was clearly the man! Another battle hero is Lord Wellington, but he is buried in a less ostentatious tomb. It’s impressive though simply made out of Cornish granite. However, the tomb is surrounded by the very banners that were made for his funeral procession.Of course Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St Paul's, is buried here but his tomb proved to be more difficult to find. It’s in the south aisle on the eastern side and a simple stone marks his spot. Indeed the surrounding memorials to his family, to the masons and other colleagues who worked on the building of St Paul's dominate the area. Our attention was drawn to the Latin epitaph above his tomb, which was written by his son and states: 'Reader, if you see his monument, look around you.'There are tombs of and memorials to artists, scientists and musicians including the likes of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the artist; Sir Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin; the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan; and the sculptor Henry Moore. It’s a real treasure trove of the famous and checked almost every single nook and cranny excitedly finding yet another name that we recognised. As we were about to leave the Crypt we examined the memorial gates to Sir Winston Churchill who isn’t buried here but worthily has a magnificent memorial to his life.There’s a small restaurant down here if you want a coffee and a snack, but it was real busy when we were visiting so we didn’t bother. I think the crypt is well worth visiting and as the entry fee to the Cathedral includes this visit it may as well be part of your itinerary. Very interesting.
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