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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/313/C
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1381-1909
Level of description: Collection
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Extent: 65 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:

* Dean's registers, 1536-1642 and 1660-1909 (CLC/313/C/001/MS25630/001-047). These registers chiefly record: leases of property, rectories etc. belonging to the Dean and Chapter collectively (but including some leases of property of individual dignitaries or prebends - see also sections CLC/313/L-N; Chapter Acts (see also section CLC/313/D); institutions of incumbents to benefices in the cathedral's patronage and within the Peculiar jurisdiction (see also sections CLC/313/E and CLC/313/K); elections of bishops (to 1633) and deans (to 1782), and admissions of cathedral and diocesan officials (see also section CLC/313/E); and admissions of manorial and estate officers, to ca. 1848 (see also section CLC/313/E).

* Seal books, 1660-1940 (CLC/313/C/004/MS25660/001-008 and CLC/313/C/005/MS25661). These books contain abstracts of documents to which the seal of the Dean and Chapter was attached. These comprise leases (see also section CLC/313/L, especially series G), powers of attorney, presentations, nominations, appointments of officials and (1803-ca. 1847) licences for curates and lecturers within the Peculiar jurisdiction (see also sections CLC/313/E and CLC/313/K).

* Dean and Chapter muniment books, 1660-1912 (CLC/313/C/006/MS25664/1-8). These books contain installations of officials, and (to ca. 1847) petitions for consecrations, faculties, institutions within the Peculiar jurisdiction (see also sections CLC/313/E and CLC/313/K).

* Dean and Chapter Commissary's muniment book, 1694-1779 (CLC/313/C/007/MS25665). A supplement to MS25664 above, chiefly recording faculties issued, but also including copies (from 1756 only) of licences for curates, lecturers, parish clerks and dissenting meeting houses within the Peculiar jurisdiction (see also sections CLC/313/E and CLC/313/K).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

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 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:

There is some overlap between the dean's registers and the Bishop's (episcopal) registers of London Diocese (DL/A/A/004/MS09531), especially before 1631. The EPISCOPAL registers include: confirmations of elections of deans of St Paul's, to 1827 (see also section CLC/313/E); confirmations of leases of St Paul's precentorship, chancellorship, treasurership and prebendal estates, mid 16th-early 19th centuries (see also section CLC/313/N); and institutions and collations to dignities, prebends, incumbencies and other cathedral offices (see also section CLC/313/E), 1321-37/8, 1361-74/5, 1381/2-1646 and 1660-1939 (including details of admissions of chantry priests, to ca. 1547, see also section CLC/313/O). In addition, details of institutions and collations between 1761 and 1937 are recorded in the London Diocesan Act books (DL/A/A/020/MS09532A/001-015, DL/A/A/018/MS09548 and DL/A/A/019/MS09549).

The Manuscripts Section also holds diocesan mandates for induction and installation to prebends, including a deed of institution, 1970-8 (DL/A/B/035/MS20882).

Publication note:

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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