St Pauls has always been the centre of my London. It was where I found solace during the first year of a horrifically bad job, its where I lit a candle for each of my Grandparents when I felt oh so far from home, and where I discovered I have a humongous fear of heights. I think I consider it ‘my London’ because I watched a documentary about St Pauls with my Dad when I was a bratty teenager who had never even dreamed of London…and I guess something stuck.
When you are already obsessed with St Pauls and the PR invites you for a back stage tour and afternoon tea, what is a girl to say apart from ‘yes yes yes pick me I am free every weekend till the end of eternity yes yes yes’. Given that this would be my 5th visit to St Pauls (#buildinggroupie) I had my own internal tour guide running as we wandered around the crypt dodging the tourists. That geeky St Pauls part of my brain finally given a chance to shine and telling me on loop about the coal tax, the fake walls and the bombing during World War 2. But somehow when I walk into the main Church the little internal tour guide goes quiet. This building is amazing.
The behind the scenes part of the tour (you can see it too by booking and paying £8) took us to the epicly film worthy staircase where parts of Harry Potter were filmed, the most redic view that looked out from one end of the building to the other (bloggers went a little nuts for this) and the to scale model of the cathedral that the King wanted to walk in before giving it planning permission.
Our squad of bloggers paused for an afternoon tea Crypt break (as you do) and I was 100% surprised at how good the afternoon tea was. Call me a snob, but I have come to expect in London at least that you can’t get a good afternoon tea for less than £35 and even then you have to walk through a damn nice lobby for it to count. But the afternoon tea at Restaurant at St Paul’s was just perfect, mini cups of tea, mini sweet treats and of course the setting was unbelievable.
Once fortified with tea and scones it was time for us to brave the dome. Now the aforementioned fear of heights? Yeah that was discovered when I was climbing the wrought iron staircases that go between the inner and outer dome. The wrought iron staircases that shake when someone else climbs in front of you. The wrought iron staircases that YOU CAN SEE THROUGH THE BOTTOM OF. Nope not scary at all to trust your life to a staircase older than your Great Great great Grandmother. Not scary at all. But when you get to the top? Its just everything.
The view from the top of the dome is all the chaos, the beauty and the colour of London calmed into one picture perfect view. The fact that we were up their alone just added to the already breathtakingly perfect day. And of course, because we are bloggers Angloyankophile gave me a quick tutorial on how to take the perfect outfit shot (I swear that girl is teaching me everything about life).
Coming down from the dome there was just enough time to hear someone practicing on the organ and play a little in the whisper gallery (the first time its been empty enough to work while I’ve been there!). St Pauls is such a special pace for me that I tend to get a little over enthusiastic when I try to convince people to go. But weather it is to see some of the most stunning architecture, the afternoon tea or the best view in London…go ok?
Oh and in case you were wondering this is what a fear of heights does to a Runawaykiwi…