Bloedow’s Bakery is to Winona as St. Paul’s Cathedral is to London. However, at first, I did not understand its importance to the city of London – after all, it doesn’t even have donuts! Just like a newcomer in Winona trying a Bloedow’s donut for the first time, I was astounded by the church after touring it. I learned many interesting facts that taught me not only how the church was important in history but why it is still iconic to the city.
This church, created in 1675, has a lot of history within its walls. Here are four more reasons why you include St. Paul’s on your visit to London.
- Fire! Destruction!
Though St. Paul’s was originally built in 604 A.D., the current church has only been around for 343 years. This is because the church has been destroyed and burnt down four times throughout the centuries. Each time, the church was rebuilt stronger and more glamourous than the last. For this reason, the church is seen as a reminder to the British people of national pride and perseverance.
- It can help you appreciate America’s separation of church and state
When looking at the church’s detailed artwork in the dome, I first noticed that the images were not colored. I soon learned that this was due to the separation between the Church of England and the Catholic Church. According to King Charles II, who commissioned the building of the cathedral in 1668, colored paintings were seen as “too Catholic.” It was important that the church seemed as protestant as possible. King Charles II also specifically required everyone working on the construction to be protestants.
Coming from a country that emphasizes freedom of religion, this was very surprising. It made me appreciate the ability to express myself and my beliefs in America more.
- It was used as a lookout during the London Blitz
In World War II, the St. Paul’s Cathedral was used as more than just a meeting place for the religious. At the time, this church was the tallest building in the city, so the government turned the top dome into a watch area for enemy bombers.
We walked up the spiraling staircase in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral that the bomb watchers had walked up every day – 528 steps! It was quite a hike, but the view of London from the top was incredible! All I could imagine was watching for airplanes in the air just as the patrol had done decades earlier.
- The Cathedral was bombed and then rebuilt immediately!
Winston Churchill made a speech saying that St. Paul’s “must be saved at all costs” (which is exactly how I feel about my donuts). This motivated several London citizens, mainly consisting of local architects, to join together and create the St. Paul’s patrol. Their voluntary job was to stay at the cathedral and make sure it was not harmed. One bomb hit the church and the patrol immediately began work to clean and restore the area.
I found it amazing that the city took such pride in their church that they would stay there every day just to make sure nothing happened to it. What is so important in my own life that I would be so dedicated to it?
For any future travelers, I would highly suggest touring this historic and beautiful building. You will leave the city with a better understanding of why Churchill saw St. Paul’s as the heart of London and how it still continues today. Although there may not be any donuts at the church, a few tube stations away you can try an amazing cotton candy and ice cream treat!
– Emily Rutscher ’19
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