Culture of Great Britain

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St. Pauls Cathedral

It is safe to say that the three most famous buildings in England are Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London and St. Paul's Cathedral.

St. Paul's Cathedral is the work of the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren. It is said to be one of the finest pieces of architecture in Europe. Work on Wren's masterpiece began in 1675 after a Norman church, old St. Paul's, was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. For 35 years the building of St. Paul's Cathedral went on, and Wren was an old mall before it was finished.

From far away you can see the huge dome with a golden ball and cross on the top. The interior of the Cathedral is very beautiful. It is fall of monuments. The most important, perhaps, is the one dedicated to the Duke of Wellington. After looking round you can climb 263 steps to the Whispering Gallery, which runs round the dome. It is called so, because if someone whispers close to the wall on one side, a person with his ear close to the wall on the other side can hear what is said. But if you want to reach the foot of the ball, you have to climb 637 steps.

As for Christopher Wren, who is now known as the architect of London, he found his fame only after his death. He was buried in the Cathedral. Buried here are Nelson, Wellington and Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Those who are interested in English architecture can study all the architectural styles of the past 500 or 600 years in Cambridge. The Chapel of Kings College is the most beautiful building in Cambridge and one of the greatest Gothic buildings in Europe. It is built in the Perpendicular style. Its foundation stone was laid in 1446, but it was completed sixty-nine years later. The interior of the Chapel is a single lofty aisle and the stonework of the walls is like lace. The Chapel has a wonderful fan-vaulting which is typical of the churches of that time. We admire the skill of the architects and crafts men who created all these wonderful buildings.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is a fine Gothic building, which stands opposite the Houses of Parliament. It is the work of many hands and different ages. The oldest part of the building dates from the eighth century. It was a monastery - the West Minster. In the 11th century Edward the Confessor after years spent in France founded a great Norman Abbey. In 200 years Henry III decided to pull down the Norman Abbey and build a more beautiful one after the style then balling in France. Since then the Abbey remains the most French of all English Gothic churches, higher than any other English church (103 feet) and much narrower. The towers were built in 1735-1740. One of the greater glories of the Abbey is the Chapel of Henry VII, with its delicate fan-vaulting. The Chapel is of stone and glass, so wonderfully cut and sculptured that it seems unreal. It contains an interesting collection of swords and standards of the Knights of the Bath. The Abbey is famous for its stained glass.

Since the far-off time of William the Conqueror Westminster Abbey has been the crowning place of the kings and queens of England. The Abbey is sometimes compared with a mausoleum, because there are tombs and memorials of almost all English monarchs, many statesmen, famous scientists, writers and musicians.

If you go past the magnificent tombstones of kings and queens, some made of gold and precious stones, past the gold-and-silver banners of the Order of the Garter, which are hanging from the ceiling, you will come to Poets Corner. There many of the greatest writers are buried: Geoffrey Chaucer, Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling. Here too, though these writers are not buried in Westminster Abbey, are memorials to William Shakespeare and John Milton, Burns and Byron, Walter Scott, William Makepeace Thackeray and the great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Here in the Abbey there is also the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, a symbol of the nations grief. The inscription on the tomb reads: Beneath this stone rests the body of a British Warrior unknown by name or rank brought from France to lie among the most illustrious of the land .

: 3/08/2009