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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/313
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): [1099]-1955
Level of description: Collection
View subfonds/series records
Extent: Circa 6000 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.

The bulk of the records, deposited in 1980, relate inter alia to the constitution, administration, services, finances and fabric of the cathedral; the Peculiar jurisdiction of the Dean and Chapter (including probate); and the estates of the Dean and Chapter and cathedral officials. They have been catalogued together within the range Mss 25121-821. Other archives of the Cathedral were lodged with Guildhall Library in the 1960s and later. They consist mainly of manorial and estate records deposited by the Church Commissioners, and probate records deposited by the Public Record Office. They have different ranges of manuscript numbers. Records of the cathedral which have been independently acquired by the Manuscripts Section are also included in the arrangement. The provenance of these items, where known, is reflected in individual catalogue descriptions.

The archives of the cathedral were sorted and boxed in the 18th and 19th centuries by a succession of cathedral officials, most notably WH Hale (Archdeacon of London, 1842-70) and Revd W Sparrow Simpson (Cathedral Librarian, 1862-97). The press marks devised by Sparrow Simpson in particular, with loose items in two series of boxes ("A" and "B") and volumes in two cupboards, East ("E") and West ("W"), and then on shelves "A" onwards within them, remained in use until the archives were transferred to Guildhall Library in 1980. These press marks were published in H Maxwell Lyte's list of the cathedral archives, printed as an Appendix to the Ninth Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts in 1883. (An annotated copy of this list, which remains an access point for many modern users, is available at the enquiry desk.) However, many of the records deposited by the Church Commissioners and the Public Record Office do not have St Paul's press marks, since they did not pass through Sparrow Simpson's hands. The LMA catalogues continue to indicate the St Paul's press marks, and a concordance of references is available. The press marks can also be found using the classification search. The arrangement of Mss 25121-821 is as follows: Mss 25121-610, items generally arranged to reflect Maxwell Lyte's published list; Mss 25611-17A, old lists of records and other redundant finding aids (these are further discussed in the introductory note to miscellaneous records, CLC/313/P); Mss 25618-821, items not mentioned in Maxwell Lyte's list, many without press marks. A fuller breakdown is available in the hard copy catalogue available at the enquiry desk.

The cathedral archives appear to have been well protected from damage during World War Two, and to have suffered little or no loss. However, the same was not true of administrative books and papers which were too recent to have been added to the archives, and which may have been stored in the Chapter House. Any such papers perished when the Chapter House was destroyed by enemy action in 1940. The sole known survivor, which bears obvious fire damage, is the Seal Book, 1931-40 (Ms 25660/8, section CLC/313/C). A full history of record-keeping at St Paul's prior to the transfer of the archives to Guildhall Library is given in Geoffrey Yeo's "Record-keeping at St Paul's Cathedral", Journal of the Society of Archivists, vol.8, no.1 (April 1986), pp.30-44. The bulk of the records of the Diocese of London held by LMA have been catalogued separately, but the activities of diocese and cathedral were often closely interlinked and their records stored in close proximity within the cathedral. Indeed, many diocesan records were among the records transferred from the cathedral to Guildhall Library in 1980 and are now included among Mss 25121-821. Those records of the diocese which directly relate to the cathedral, especially those which concern the "Old Work" (the portion of the cathedral built before 1256 and, uniquely, the responsibility of the Bishop of London, not the Dean and Chapter; see section CLC/313/H), are included in the catalogue. A few records of provincial dioceses, chapters, monasteries and other ecclesiastical institutions outside London, which had strayed into the cathedral's custody, were also deposited at Guildhall Library in 1980. In most cases these records were catalogued and assigned a Guildhall Library manuscript number (with any St Paul's press mark acknowledged) and then transferred to the appropriate local repository. These records are excluded from the catalogue.

The majority of the cathedral's archives have now been catalogued by Guildhall Library/LMA. However some of these are only partly processed and have incomplete catalogue descriptions. Those partly-processed items which were arranged by Sparrow Simpson and/or described by Maxwell Lyte can be requested using Maxwell Lyte's list and the concordance of St Paul's press marks/Guildhall Library Manuscript numbers. The remainder were scheduled briefly in 1999 and 2002 by Christine Faunch and Stephen Freeth as CF1-136 (a copy of the schedule is held at the enquiry desk). They should therefore by requested by these CF references. This partly-processed material will be included in the computerised catalogue as soon as full catalogue descriptions are compiled in each case. However at present they do not appear in the computerised catalogue, and must be searched for separately. Guildhall Library/LMA also holds various uncatalogued records, comprising deeds, leases and estate papers received from the Church Commissioners, mostly 19th century. These items are not routinely produced, and anyone requiring access should discuss how to go about this with a member of staff.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, Latin and French.

System of arrangement:

CLC/313/A Charters;
CLC/313/B Statute and evidence books;
CLC/313/C Muniment books;
CLC/313/D Chapter minutes;
CLC/313/E Appointments of officials;
CLC/313/F Cathedral services;
CLC/313/G Financial records;
CLC/313/H Cathedral fabric pre-1630;
CLC/313/I Cathedral fabric post-1630;
CLC/313/J City churches rebuilding;
CLC/313/K Peculiar jurisdiction;
CLC/313/L Dean and Chapter estates;
CLC/313/M Dean's Peculiar estates;
CLC/313/N Dignitaries' and Prebendaries' estates;
CLC/313/O Chantries and obits;
CLC/313/P Miscellaneous.
This arrangement was known as the 'DCP' thematic arrangement prior to the merger of Guildhall Library Manuscripts and the LMA. The reference codes were DCPA, DCPB, DCPC, DCPD, DCPE and so on.

Conditions governing access:

Restricted access: please see staff.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

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.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Cathedral Library continues to hold the St Paul's volumes of medieval manuscript religious or literary texts numbered "St Paul's Mss 1-4" and "6-20". ["Ms 5", also known as "WD24", has been deposited at Guildhall Library/LMA and catalogued as CLC/207/MS25524.] A full description of these items is given in NR Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries; Vol.1: London (1969), pp.240-62. The Cathedral Librarian also retains custody of certain other records, including Chapter minutes from 1833; personal papers of cathedral dignitaries; modern baptismal, marriage and burial registers; the surviving archives of the Vicars Choral; collections of music manuscripts; and printed sermons.

A guide to the holdings of the Cathedral Library (before the transfer of the archives to Guildhall Library) is given in W Sparrow Simpson, St Paul's Cathedral Library: A Catalogue [of] ... Works relating to London and especially to St Paul's Cathedral, Including ... Paul's Cross Sermons; Maps, Plans, and Views of London, and of St Paul's Cathedral (1893). See also E Anne Read, A Checklist of Books, Catalogues and Periodical Articles relating to the Cathedral Libraries of England (Oxford Bibliographical Society, Occasional Publication no.6, 1970), with later supplement in Library History, vol.4, no.5 (1978), pp.141-67, and F Atkinson, St Paul's Cathedral, London: The Library of the Dean and Chapter (1990). For general histories of the cathedral, see W Dugdale, A History of St Paul's Cathedral, (3rd edn, 1818, with additions by H Ellis); HH Milman, Annals of St Paul's Cathedral (2nd edn, 1869); W Longman, A History of the Three Cathedrals dedicated to St Paul in London (1873); WR Matthews and WM Atkins eds, A History of St Paul's Cathedral (1957); and Ann Saunders, St Paul's: The Story of the Cathedral (2001). See also P Burman, St Paul's Cathedral (New Bell's Cathedral Guides, 1987). See also Derek Keene, Arthur Burns and Andrew Saints eds, St Paul's, the Cathedral Church of London, 604-2004 (Yale University, 2004).

Publication note:

Bibliography: This only lists works of general relevance, or which are cited frequently in other introductory notes. Works of specific relevance are cited at the appropriate point in introductory notes. F Atkinson, St Paul's Cathedral, London: The Library of the Dean and Chapter (1990). Peter WM Blayney, The Bookshops in Paul's Cross Churchyard, London (Bibliographical Society, Occasional paper no.5, 1990). P Burman, St Paul's Cathedral (New Bell's Cathedral Guides, 1987). GH Cook, Old St Paul's Cathedral (1955). GRC Davis, Medieval Cartularies of Great Britain (1958), no.598. W Dugdale, A History of St Paul's Cathedral (3rd edn, 1818, with additions by H Ellis), Marion Gibbs, 'Early Charters of the Cathedral Church of St Paul's, London' Camden Society 3rd series, vol.58 (1939). D Keene and V Harding, Survey of Documentary Sources for Property Holding in London before the Great Fire (London Record Society, vol.22, 1985). D Keene, A Burns and A Saint, St Paul's, the Cathedral Church of London, 604-2004 (Yale University, 2004). N Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, Vol.1: London, (1969). WR Matthews and WM Atkins eds, A History of St Paul's Cathedral (1957). H Maxwell Lyte - see Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. HH Milman, Annals of St Paul's Cathedral (2nd edn, 1869). N Pevsner and S Bradley, The Buildings of England Series: London 1, The City of London (revised edn, 1997), pp.155-183. Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (HMC), Ninth Report, Part 1 (1883). The Appendix to this report includes a list of the cathedral archives by H Maxwell Lyte. A Saunders, St Paul's: The Story of the Cathedral (2001). W Sparrow Simpson, Chapters in the History of Old St Paul's (1881). W Sparrow Simpson, Gleanings from Old St Paul's (1889). W Sparrow Simpson, Registrum Statutorum et Consuetudinum Ecclesiae Cathedralis Sancti Pauli L ondinensis (1873). W Sparrow Simpson, St Paul's Cathedral Library: A Catalogue [of]...Works relating to London and Especially to St Paul's Cathedral, Including...Paul's Cross Sermons; Maps, Plans, and Views of London, and of St Paul's Cathedral (1893). W Sparrow Simpson, St Paul's Cathedral and Old City Life (1894). Victoria County History (VCH) London Vol.1 (1909). G Yeo, "Record-keeping at St Paul's Cathedral", Journal of the Society of Archivists, vol.8, no.1 (April 1986), pp.30-44. The above books and articles are all available at Guildhall Library.

The Fraternity (or Brotherhood) of Jesus in the Crowds, which met in the cathedral crypt (popularly called "Shrowds" or "Crowdes"), was incorporated in 1457/8. A volume of letters patent, ordinances, charters, deeds etc., 1459-c 1536, is now Bodleian Ms Tanner 221. For extracts, see W Sparrow Simpson, Regist rum, pp.435-62 and 483-4. For a history of the fraternity, see Elizabeth Ann New, The Cult of the Holy Name of Jesus in Late Medieval England, with Special Reference to the Fraternity in St Paul's Cathedral, London, ca. 1450-1558 (University of London, Phd Dissertation, 1999). A copy is held by the Printed Books Section of Guildhall Library.

Chronicles. The Annales Paulini (Lambeth Palace Library, Ms 1106) have been edited for the years 1307-41 by WS Stubbs as Chronicles of the Reign of Edward I and Edward II, Vol.1 (Rolls Series, vol.76, 1882), pp.255-370. Lambeth Palace Library Ms 590 (with extracts from LPL Ms 1106) is edited in W Sparrow Simpson, "A Short Chronicle of St Paul's Cathedral from A.D. 1140 to 1341", LAMAS Transactions, 1st series, vol.5 (1881), pp.311-26, and in Sparrow Simpson, "Documents Illustrating the History of St Paul's Cathedral", Camden Society, new series, vol.26 (1880), pp.41-60 & 222-8. This last reference also includes extracts from the Chronicle of St Paul's London to 1399 (British Library, Add Ms 22142). Further details of these and other chronicles are given in A Gransden, Historical Writing in England, vols.1-2 (1974, 1982).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

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.

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