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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/313/D

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1411-1938

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 12 production units.

Name of creator(s): St Paul's Cathedral | London


Administrative/Biographical history:

Saint Paul's Cathedral was probably founded in 604 by the King of Kent, Saint Ethelbert. The original wooden building was replaced by a stone church between 675 and 685; but this was destroyed by Vikings. The replacement building was destroyed by fire in 1087. The replacement cathedral was begun under the direction of Maurice, Bishop of London and chaplain to William the Conqueror. It was constructed in imported Caen stone and was higher and larger than the present building, topped by the tallest spire ever to have been built. The Cathedral precinct was walled in, and included a Chapter House, Saint Gregory's parish church, the Bishop's Palace, the Pardon Churchyard, a College of Minor Canons, the chapel of Saint Faith, Saint Paul's School, Paul's Cross, and a free-standing bell-tower. Paul's Cross was an important site for London life; sermons were preached here, proclamations made, and the folk moot for free citizens was held here. The cathedral itself was the site of many grand royal and ceremonial occasions: kings married here, lay in state here and gave thanks for military victories.

The Reformation caused great problems for the Cathedral, and the Dean and Chapter were unable to maintain the fabric. The walls of the Precinct crumbled and the open space around the Cathedral, as well as the nave itself, was used for business, selling of goods and meetings. Services were held in the choir. Extensive repairs were not begun until the 1630s, although they were interrupted by the Civil War and Cromwell's army used the nave as a cavalry barracks. The army smashed windows, mutilated statues and burned the woodwork. The nave roof fell in and the Bishop's Palace was destroyed. In 1663 the Dean and Chapter asked Christopher Wren to suggest how repairs could begin. Wren advocated destroying the existing building and starting again, which was rejected. He therefore drew up reconstruction plans which were accepted in 1666, 6 days before the Great Fire of London. The building was almost completely destroyed during the Fire, only the monument to poet and clergyman John Donne surviving.

Wren was forced to demolish the remainders of the walls using a battering ram. He made three designs for the new building; he is said to have burst into tears when his personal favourite was rejected. A design was finally selected in 1675, but Wren was given leave to adjust the plans if he chose to and he did make modifications, including the famous dome rather than a spired steeple. The rebuilding took 35 years, supervised throughout by Wren. He was one of the first people to be buried in the new crypt. Also buried in the crypt are Nelson, Wellington, and other distinguished soldiers, sailors, airmen, musicians, artists and writers.

Information from The London Encyclopaedia, eds. Weinreb and Hibbert (LMA Library Reference 67.2 WEI).


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Dean and Chapter of Saint Paul's Cathedral, London, comprising:

* Chapter Act books, 1411-48 ("Liber Goodman", WD13) (CLC/313/D/001/MS25513) and 1667-87 (CLC/313/D/004/MS25739). The Act book for 1411-48, the only surviving such volume before 1660, chiefly concerns the cathedral's benefices, prebends, canonries and chantries, (for chantries, see also section CLC/313/O); elections and installations of bishops, deans, and heads of religious houses (see also section CLC/313/E); orders for the regulation of internal disputes and discipline of chapter members and cathedral officers; dispensations for non-residence; and commissions for visitations within the Peculiar jurisdiction (see also section CLC/313/K). The volume covering 1667-87, started with the purpose of registering Acts to extend leases of cathedral tenants whose property had been destroyed in the Great Fire, is mainly blank. Certain Chapter Acts are also included in the Dean's registers (see section CLC/313/C).

* Chapter minute books, 1660-1821 (CLC/313/D/002/MS25738/001-006). These relate mainly to the estates of the Dean and Chapter and to livings in their gift (see also sections CLC/313/E and CLC/313/L).

* CLC/313/D/003/MS25795 comprises memoranda of business at chapter meetings, 1661-2, which are more detailed than the corresponding entries in the minute book. The minutes for 1822-32 have not survived.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Records arranged by MS number, assigned during cataloguing at the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section. For a detailed discussion of the arrangement of the collection, see the fonds level description for Saint Paul's Cathedral, reference CLC/313.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The bulk of the archives of St Paul's Cathedral were transferred to the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library in September 1980. They were catalogued by a member of Guildhall Library staff in around 1989. Other accessions were received from the 1960s onwards. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.


Related material:

A "stray" volume of minutes of chapter meetings for the renewal of leases, 1728-44, is now Bodleian Library Ms Rawlinson B.371.

The Chapter minutes from 1833, which contain a much wider range of information, are retained by the Cathedral Librarian.

DESCRIPTION NOTES Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: August to October 2010.

Act books | Primary documents | Documents | Information sources
Benefices | Rights | Customary law | Law
Bishops | Clergy | Religious groups
Cathedral canons | Canon law | Legal systems | Law
Chantries | Endowment funds | Finance
Chapters | Religious communities | Religious institutions
Deans (ecclesiastical) | Clergy | Religious groups
Ecclesiastical visitations | Religious activities
Estate management | Land management | Land economics | Agricultural economics
Prebends | Tithes | Taxation | Fiscal policy | Finance
Religious buildings | Buildings | Architecture
Cathedrals x Religious buildings

Personal names

Corporate names
St Paul's Cathedral | London

City of London | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe