St Paul’s Cathedral – Review for families

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What is it?

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It’s the centre point for London’s Anglican-Christian community, a majestic work of architecture and London’s most famous cathedral. Find it St Paul’s Square, near St Paul’s, Barbican and Mansion House tube stations.

Best for:

9 – 12 / 12+

OK for:

5 – 8

Cost

£££. It’s very expensive if you consider how long you’ll be spending there and how many children you’ll be taking with you.

What’s on offer

St Paul’s Cathedral has long been a popular visitors attraction for tourists. Not only is the church, built from 1675AD onwards, a work of beautiful craftsmanship, but the site is also incredibly famous for hosting historical events, such as the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

Visitors first enter through the impressive Nave (central section of the cathedral) where congregations for services take place take them across the large Cathedral floor. You can climb the Dome, discover the Crypt, reflect in the Chapels and explore the exterior and churchyard. The Cathedral also offers visitors ‘an eye into St Paul’s’ and its 1400-year history through a 270 degree film experience called ‘Oculus’. This is located in the Crypt.

The Cathedral is also home to unique collections of books, objects and has its own architectural archive. There are also temporary art exhibitions available occasionally. Please check the official website for details of what’s on and when.

In terms of facilities, St Paul’s Cathedral is a very old building and is therefore not particularly pushchair friendly. There is only one entrance without steps (the south entrance) and access to the Dome’s separate sections, Whispering (257 steps), Stone (376 steps) and Golden Galleries (528 steps) is by stairs only. There is an accessible toilet.

They do have a café, a restaurant and a shop.

Highlights

The interior is absolutely stunning, the art work and detail are intricate and the building’s exterior and statues are marvellous pieces of work. It really is a sight to behold. On top of that, any children who love history or finding out the facts will enjoy their tour of the Crypt.

The view from the Golden Galleries of the Dome are so spectacular that some TripAdvisor users no longer felt the need to wait in the queue for the London Eye. That’s very subjective, so you be the judge!

What to watch out for

– You definitely won’t need longer than 2 hours here. Plan for around 1.5 hours.

– Bringing a buggy to St Paul’s Cathedral would be a mistake, especially if you want to venture beyond the Crypt and climb the Dome for its breathtaking views of the city.

– The stairs are winding and very narrow. There are a lot of them, so if you or you child have breathing difficulties, a phobia of heights or suffer from claustrophobia, anxiety or panic attacks – please speak to a member of staff at the Cathedral before undertaking the walk.

– It’s hard to turn back once you’ve started on the stairs, especially if there are other visitors behind you.

– Young or tired children will find the amount of stairs to visit many parts of the Cathedral to be tasking. Make sure they’ve got a bottle of water, comfortable walking shoes and can take a break when necessary. Avoid areas with too many steps if necessary.

– There isn’t a great deal of toilets or baby-oriented facilities here. Walk across the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern after your visit if you need to do some nappy-changing.

– Generally, there isn’t a lot for young children to do here and therefore the attraction is probably better suited to older children with an interest in religious studies, architecture or more generally, an appreciation of London and it’s tourist attractions.

MFM tips:

– Nearby attractions for a full day out include the South Bank and Tate Modern.

What the owners say

“St Paul’s is London’s Cathedral and embodies the spiritual life and heritage of the British people. Cathedrals serve a wide community. A Cathedral houses the seat – or in Latin, cathedra – of the bishop, making it a centre for Christian worship and teaching, and the Christian mission.

St Paul’s Cathedral acts as an important meeting place for people and ideas, as a centre for the arts, learning and public debate. ”

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Visit the official St Paul’s Cathedral website

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