Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

St Paul's: The Cathedral Church of London, 604-2004

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

St Paul's: The Cathedral Church of London, 604-2004

Article excerpt

DEREK KEENE, ARTHUR BURNS, AND ANDREW SAINT, EDS. St Paul's: The Cathedral Church of London, 604-2004. New Haven, Connecticut, and London, England: Yale University Press, 2004. Pp. xiii + 538, bibliography, black and white illustrations, color plates. $125.00.

This handsome, weighty, copiously-illustrated folio volume is an encyclopedia of information about one of the world's most iconic churches, St. Paul's Cathedral, the story of which began over fourteen hundred years ago. In more recent times St. Paul's has become a symbol of British endurance during the blitz of World War II as well as the site of the ill-fated royal wedding of 1981. Its history is in many ways that of the Church of England, and is also intimately tied to that of Britain's premier city, London. As such, St. Paul's is certainly worthy of a monumental history.

This history is certainly monumental in the exhaustive detail it presents on its subject, but whether it is the ideal history is a matter of argument. The book's forty-two chapters are divided into three sections: "Historical Overview," "Up to the Reformation," and "From the Reformation to the Present." The individual chapters include a wide range of specialized subject matter, ranging from the cathedral's income through its fabric, staff, architecture, decoration, music, preaching, and library. Each essay is authoritative and copiously illustrated, usually with color photographs.

The problem is access for the non-specialist. There is no time-line or synoptic introduction, so that the more general reader has to wade through a number of highly detailed essays into order to arrive at some sense of the building's and institution's development.

If one were to choose a particular chapter as a starting-point, it might be number thirty-four, "National Occasions at Saint Paul's Since 1800," by John Wolfe. …

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