Tuesday, 20 May 2008

St Paul's Cathedral With The London Pass

I have trouble getting up in the mornings. This is probably because I have a trouble going to bed at night! Ordinarily, this doesn’t cause any problems but when you have a day of sightseeing planned and you can’t wake up at a decent hour one has to pay the price! Consequently I rarely get to see as much as I’d like to when I go to London and would advise anyone more sensible than me to go to bed at a “normal” time and get up early to make the most of your London experience. Also check the opening hours of each attraction so that you don’t miss out. The London Pass site and guidebook provide all the details you need so spend a few minutes planning your itinerary carefully, especially if your time in London is limited. Thankfully for me, I’m not restricted by time so I probably won’t be changing my sleeping patterns just yet!

It was getting a little late in the afternoon when I headed towards St Paul’s Cathedral but was still well within “opening hours”. I took the advice given in the London Pass guidebook and avoided potential queues by entering via the Crypt. Having walked from the Globe Theatre across the Millennium Bridge and around the Cathedral to the downstairs entrance (stopping to take some pics of that little squirrel you've already seen!), I was pleased to find the Refectory Restaurant was open and offered 20% discount to London Pass holders. Half an hour, one cup of tea and a chocolate brownie later (oh when will I ever resist temptation?!), I made my way to the Crypt which contains a Who’s Who of famous historical figures – or rather their graves and monuments! Christopher Wren, architect of this magnificent building is buried here along with renowned musicians, writers, artists, scientists and soldiers.

It seems wrong to walk across grave stones but in St Paul’s Crypt it is virtually impossible not to as they are packed into every available space! Some of the engravings are hard to decipher and, in some cases, so worn by age and footsteps that they have disappeared completely. I guess that every visitor has their “favourites” (is it wrong to have a favourite grave?!) but I veered to the tombs and memorials representing the Arts rather than the multitude of military figures.

One of the most touching memorials I discovered was a small plaque dedicated to Robert Eaton who was once a St Paul’s chorister and died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trader Centre.

I should explain that you are not allowed to take photographs inside but if you make it to the top of the building you can take pictures of the views across London. I had forgotten to purchase my discounted audio guide before entering the Crypt and probably spent too long wandering around aimlessly reading inscriptions. I was also waylaid by an excellent exhibition charting the relationship of the Royal Family with St Paul’s. By the time I went to get an audio guide I was kindly warned that I’d almost certainly run out of time to make it up the 530 steps to the Golden Gallery (even though I was planning to run up them – ha ha!) and may not even reach the Whispering Gallery. The Whispering Gallery should really be done in pairs anyway to make the most of its clever acoustics (the prospect of being on opposite sides of the 30 metre high gallery and whispering to each other blows my mind!). The lovely man apologised (as though it was his fault that I hadn’t woken early enough!) and said that he could stamp my ticket to enable re-entry on another occasion. How kind is that? I still would’ve returned at some point for the momentous climb but now I’ll keep that ticket safe and do the deed when I’m back in London.

Instead, I took the opportunity to look upwards from the Cathedral floor (beware: neck strain!) and appreciate the spectacular mosaics, carvings and art work. Although I had not been inside before, the £40million cleaning and repair programme - in preparation for the 300th anniversary in 2010 - is definitely money well spent! The inside of St Paul’s is truly breathtaking and, despite so many visitors wandering around, provides a place for quiet contemplation in the middle of this bustling metropolis.


dgeezer said...

OK, now let me see if I've got this right.

On your most recent London Pass day out you went on a tour of the Globe Theatre (saving £9.00), you visited St Paul's Cathedral (saving £10.00) and you had 20% off a cup of tea and a brownie in the Crypt cafe (saving about £1). I make that a total of £20 saved.

And yet a one-day London Pass, which you said you bought, costs £38. Maybe £36 on a good day.

So your day out cost at least £16 more with a London Pass than it would have done without.

Something here just doesn't add up...

Sparkly Songbird said...

Ah Mr Geezer... you are so impatient!
I have yet to report on two other places I visited earlier that day. But clearly I have been rumbled writing about the more interesting places first! I think in total I saved about £5 that day but had I got going a little earlier could probably have fitted in another attraction or two.

Sadly I'm not made of money so I at least like to break even on my little daytrips!

I love your blog by the way... tis essential daily reading for me :)

Best Sparkly Wishes
SS x

dgeezer said...

Impatient? I've been waiting nearly a month to post this :)

In which case, permit me to remain a trifle suspicious for just a little while longer.

Sparkly Songbird said...

Has it really been that long? That is pretty shameful! Will you afford me a weeks grace for my nasty NHS experience which temporarily put me out of action?
I aim to reveal all by the end of the week - unless I get sidetracked again!
I feel honoured to have the Master of London blogging keeping an eye on me :)
SS x