St. Paul’s Cathedral has a little restaurant below in the Crypt that serves food, drink, snacks and a fabulous afternoon tea from 3-4.15pm Monday-Saturday. Find them at St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD.
It’s always nice when you discover that you have a new talent. The big decision though is whether to use this talent for good, or for evil. Sometimes you think you’re doing good but it turns out you are the kind of monkey who could get a dude fired.
I am of course talking about hashtagging. The wonderful Ed from LadyLovesCake.com (he doesn’t dress up in pearls and crochet shawls when he sits down to blog, he’s the Gentleman who Loves Cake…. I mean maybe he does, but he hasn’t made this information public) was wearing his professional hat as comms guy for St Paul’s Cathedral and giving a few bloggers the grand tour, topped off by some afternoon tea. He also asked us to make up a catchy hashtag for our bloggers’ afternoon. I took to the task with gusto. Turns out #EatPrayBlog is an inappropriate hashtag. #TeaWithJesus is an inappropriate hashtag. As such we won’t be mentioning those at all. #StPaulsTea however, is just the ticket.
We arrived on one of those hot, sunny, sweaty afternoons ready to explore. I was joined by six fabulous bloggers: Sophie, Katy, Alexandra, Jaime, Rebecca and Angela and to begin with we headed downstairs to visit Wellington and Nelson, who were spending the day lying around in their crypts.
Lots of half melted statues adorn the hallways down there, all that was left from the original St. Paul’s Cathedral that burnt to a crisp in the Great Fire of London. It’s kind of a good thing that it did, because it gave our man Christopher Wren a big patch of empty land to style his own Anglican fabulous cathedral. He started with a model of the cathedral, which is still housed in a room upstairs. We visited, of course, and found out that the word ‘model’ is slightly misleading. Not exactly small, this replica was big enough for King Charles II to crawl around inside. Frankly, if I were King I’d be forcing the word’s best architects to build me enormous doll houses to crawl around in too, so no shade there.
Unfortunately we weren’t allowed into the Cathedral’s library without librarian supervision, but we did peak through the keyhole and IT WAS MAGICAL. Old dusty books, globes and all manner of creepy quintessential English shizz, we were all trying to just sniff it through the keyhole and soak up as much atmosphere as possible.
We moved on to a rather fabulous spiral stairway that caused a number of our squadron to simultaneously cream themselves. Apparently it’s a Harry Potter stairway. I wasn’t game enough to admit this at the time, but I haven’t read the books, I haven’t seen the films and I’m no hurry to do either. #sorrynotsorry
As we shimmied back through the main part of the cathedral, down the aisle, pretending to be Princess Di, we realised now was as good a time as any to stop for tea. Quite the beautiful spread was laid before us in the restaurant housed in the crypt:
Finger sandwiches on granary, brown and white breads to include; smoked salmon, free range egg and cress, cucumber and cream cheese, Yorkshire ham and English mustard. I began with the sandwiches as it’s traditional and my least favourite part of the afternoon tea experience. I skipped the egg and the salmon sandwich as I don’t care for those things, but the other two were lovely. This also meant I had plenty of room left for CAKE.
We were served a very light English tea in tiny little floral cups, along with a glass of English sparkling wine and russet apple juice. Both exquisite. The freshly baked fruit and traditional scones with Cornish clotted cream and the head chef’s homemade rhubarb jam also slipped down easily, before moving on to the main event.
The cakes, oh wow, the sweets were everything. Lemon meringue pie (fabulous), chocolate delice (gooey and enchanting), rhubarb and ginger cheesecake (get in my belly) and cherry bakewell Battenberg (I will always love you) these little friends will always hold a place in my heart. We even received a little goody bag to take away.
Full, happy and delirious with sugar, we headed over to the downstairs chapel for a little poke around before the Evensong service. Lots more famous friends are buried down here, so we said hello and admired the chapel.
Then we attended Evensong, in specially reserved seats right beside the choir. It was utterly beautiful, and I am not a religious person. The choir (comprised mostly of young boys) really gave it their all, probably because they were just a day away from heading off on summer holiday and really excited to belt out the tunes.
After this there was only one way to go: up into the dome. Now, I’m not as great with heights as I used to be. Being up in the dome looking down into the church definitely gave me the heebie jeebies, but for some reason I was much better climbing up outside the dome looking out around London.
That was until Alexandra accidentally dropped a lens cap from the roof and said “Oops”. Seriously, “oops” is not a word you want to hear when traipsing about the sky on a teeny tiny platform.
The most terrifying thing however, is the tiny, little window right at the top of the dome, that allows you to peer straight down to the floor of the cathedral hundreds of thousands of feet below. If this doesn’t turn your knees to jelly then maybe you just don’t have dessert based joints. Unlucky for some.
In all seriousness, I want to say that a day out at St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the best day’s out you can have in London, even for those who aren’t religious. It’s beautiful. It’s full of religious history, art history, regular history and even cake. The services are wonderful, the graves, tombs and memorials are magnificent and it offers one of the best views of London money can buy. Not to mention the work out you get traipsing up all those stairs to get to the top.
Please go, and please tell them when you go that you’re there because Ed the comms guy is fabulous, and not because of all the dodgy hashtagging. Well, maybe a little bit because of all the dodgy hastagging, because learning about history should be fun and it should be engaging. If dodgy hashtagging is how I share that passion, then that’s how it has to be.
My afternoon tea and behind the scenes tour was free of charge for blogging purposes, but I really, really love St. Pauls and think you should to. Book your tickets here. And remember to have afternoon tea, too. The chef’s a bit of a stunner.