Skip navigation
Mosaics and mosaic making information from The joy of shards Mosaics Resource

You are in: Visits --> London --> St Paul's

Mosaics at St Paul's Cathedral, London

Yes, there are some wonderful mosaics in St Paul's Cathedral, and, no, you're not allowed to take pictures of them (the illustrations here are from tiles in St Paul's underground station).

The mosaics at Saint Paul's are in several locations. The most colourful are way up on the ceiling and in the arches. They were installed on the orders of Queen Victoria, who thought that the cathedral was not colourful enough. The designs - many by William Blake Richmond (1842-1921) - are strongly influenced by Byzantine mosaics, but with elements of more contemporary styles. A major cleaning programme in 2003 has left the mosaics brilliantly bright, almost psychedelic in the intensity of their colours.

In the crypt are some other mosaics not to be missed. The floor around the tombs of Horatio Nelson and the Duke of Wellington are a mosaic made by women prisoners at Woking Gaol in the 19th century. The overall style is Roman-like, but again it has been adapted slightly. There are sun and moon motifs, palm trees, and an anchor. My favourite is the crocodile at the head of Nelson's tomb. It is exquisite, especially if you forgive the impossible way its tail curls round.

Saint Paul's cathedral

Also in the crypt is the OBE chapel. One tomb here (that of the composer Hubert Parry 1848-1918) has mosaic lettering, and the memorial for Robert Billing (1834-1898, Bishop of Bedford) has some mosaic and opus sectile.

In the main part of the cathedral there is a photomosaic picture of the cathedral and its dome, made up of around 50,000 small photos of other nearby churches and details of St Paul's.

The St Paul's web site has very little on the mosaics, although the 360 degree panorama of Nelson's tomb does show the floor of the crypt.

st pauls tube station tile

Griffon tile

2001-8 All pictures and text are copyright
the joy of shards Mosaics Resource