St Paul's Cathedral, as never seen before

St Paul's Cathedral, as never seen before


norman lebrecht

June 16, 2011

The last scaffolding came down overnight and Wren’s masterpiece can be seen uncladded for the first time in 15 years, after a £40 million ($65m) renovation. It is said to look better than at any time since it opened in 1711 and its full power and glory will be experienced at a tercentenary ceremony on June 21.

There are no uncladded pictures of the cathedral yet online, but photographers are invited today to submit shots of the restored cathedral for a competition at

Hearing news of the completion brought to mind my late friend Ewen Balfour who, nine years ago, took me to lunch and asked me to rope my newspaper into a media partnership for the restoration, which I did without a moment’s hesitation. Ewen, the best fixer in London, was involved with its three greatest churches – the other two being Westminster Abbey and St-Martin-in-the-Fields. When he died, suddenly and too soon, all three put in competitive bids for his memorial service.

It’s lovely to remember a wonderful man in the framework of his mighty works.

Ewen Balfour