The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 25 St Paul's Cathedral

Whispering Gallery

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The UPPER PARTS of the cathedral are reached by a staircase from the south aisle. An easy ascent of 143 steps leads to the Triforium Gallery, above the south aisle, in which are preserved some designs for the decoration of St. Paul's, several 18th century leaden cisterns, and a few carved fragments from Old St. Paul's. At the end, above the chapel of SS. Michael and George, is the Library, in which the floor and the carved woodwork should be noticed. In show-cases are exhibited interesting books, autographs, and casts of seals. Over the fireplace is a portrait of Bishop Compton (1632-1713), who crowned William and Mary and formed the nucleus of the library. Returning to the staircase, we continue the ascent to the WHISPERING GALLERY, 108 feet in diameter, within the lower dome, where words whispered near the wall on one side can be distinctly heard at the other side. This gallery commands an interesting view of the floor of the cathedral, and it is also the best point from which to see Thornhill's monochrome paintings on the dome. The subjects of these are: 1. Conversion of St. Paul; 2. Punishment of Elymas the sorcerer; 3. Sacrifice at Lystra; 4. Conversion of the gaoler at Philippi; 5. Sermon on Mars' Hill; 6. Burning of the books at Ephesus; 7. St. Paul before Agrippa; 8. Shipwreck at Malta. The Stone Gallery, the exterior gallery round the base of the dome, commands a fine 'View of London, which is still more extensive from the Golden Gallery, at the base of the lantern above the dome. An ascent (quite safe) leads thence to the Ball on the top of the lantern, which, however, has no view.