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The earliest church built on this site in the name of Saint Paul dates back to 604 CE. It was made of wood and burned down 71 years later. Subsequent churches were likewise wooden and likewise consumed by fire, until the chaplain to William the Conqueror built the cathedral out of stone in 1087. This building would survive for 600 years.
It's almost like stone isn't flammable. Bloke was a bloody genius.
St. Paul's Cathedral was originally a place of Catholic worship, and a center for public activity. Trading took place in the cathedral, as well as games of sport, despite objections from those in charge of the cathedral. When Henry VIII severed ties with the Catholic Church, St. Paul's became a Protestant cathedral, and although it went back to Catholic worship under Mary, Queen of Scots, St. Paul's became Protestant once and for all under Queen Elizabeth in 1559.
Efforts to restore St. Paul's were delayed time and time again by such events as the English Civil War and the Great Fire of 1666, which claimed the cathedral as one of its many casualties. Legendary architect Christopher Wren, who was only in his thirties, was hired to redesign St. Paul's before it was destroyed by the Great Fire, and he engineered the design and construction of a new, revitalized cathedral.
By the nineteenth century, St. Paul's had once again lost its lustre. Queen Victoria remarked that the cathedral was "dreary, dingy, and undevotional." Funds were raised to improve the cathedral by such philanthropists as Maria Hackett and William Weldon Champneys. But not Crawford Starrick. Interesting.