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REBUILDING OF ST PAUL'S  - LINK TO THE BOW RETURN OF 1678

 

St. Pauls Cathedral by Thomas Shepherd

St. Paul's Cathedral in the early 19th century

by Thomas Shepherd

 

There was a long pause after the Great Fire of London in 1666 while the authorities looked about them for the best way to proceed with the rebuilding of  London. St. Paul's Cathedral was just one of 87 churches which had been totally destroyed. Christopher Wren and other architects produced plans for new streets and  buildings within days of the fire burning itself out but none was feasible without vast financial investment and draconian laws to enable the compulsory purchase of land.

Even with these problems resolved, there would have been a considerable delay before work could start; enormous amounts of materials had to be gathered together and specialist labour had to be recruited before London could commence the re-creation of some of its landmark buildings plus there was a niggling sea-based war with the Dutch to resolve first. 

The years dragged by and it was not until 1670 that work began on the reconstruction of some, if not all, of the churches. Between 1670 and 1696 Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke designed and built 51 new churches. The last to be started, in 1675, was St. Paul's Cathedral; built  to a magnificent design by Wren which took until 1710 to fully complete although they were able to hold the first service there in 1697.

It was a massive project and every parish in the country was required to contribute towards the expense. The details of most (but not all) individual contributions were recorded and retained in the library of the Guildhall in London for centuries, providing a valuable record of names and, sometimes, even details of an individual's status within the community.The Guildhall website describes what may be found in those returns which do survive:

 

'The returns list the sums of money collected in each area and most record the names of those individuals who contributed, and in a number of instances those who did not contribute. There are also indications on a number of the returns of the status of the contributors, i.e. widow or servant, but there are relatively few lists giving occupational details'.

 

To find the 1678 Return for BOW click on the address below:

http://genuki.cs.ncl.ac.uk/DEV/StPauls/Bow1678.html

 

 

 

 

 
 
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