Explore the City's Ancient Alleyways in the Footsteps of Charles Dickens
St Paul's Cathedral
Stop here at the iron railing of St Paul's Churchyard to admire one of London's most iconic buildings. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Dickens would have known St Paul’s, which dominated London in Victorian times the way the modern skyscrapers do today. In "Our Mutual Friend", he describes the London fog, saying, "At any point of the high ridge of land northwards, it might have been discerned that the loftiest buildings made an occasional struggle to get their heads above the soggy sea, and especially that the great dome of St Paul's seemed to die hard. The whole metropolis was a heap of vapour charged with the muffled sounds of wheels, and enfolding a gigantic catarrh".
The St Paul's you see today has recently been restored to its original light yellow colour, whereas in former times the Portland stone had turned a dark grey. The famous London smog has disappeared as new laws prohibit coal burning in the city. Dickens would surely have been pleased, although his novels do rely on the dark and threatening atmosphere engendered by the smog.
Let's get going again. If you're facing the railing, walk to the left towards the road.