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‘Paul’s Work’: Repair and Renovation of St Paul’s Cathedral, 1561–16251

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Chapter Summary

In the late 16th century, the phrase 'to make Paul's work' of something became colloquial for a botched or an always unfinished project. The phrase has its origins in the sustained yet unsuccessful efforts to repair and renovate London's St.Paul's Cathedral after the 1561 fire that destroyed the spire and damaged the roof. The church fell into disrepair in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and was the subject of several reconstruction attempts, none of which came to fruition. It was not until Charles I took the throne that a complete restoration of the church, led by Inigo Jones, was planned. This chapter is an attempt to weave together the sometimes competing narratives surrounding the renovation efforts in the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. The author uses those royal qualifiers deliberately, as the monarchs were generally involved in attempts at refurbishing.

Keywords: Charles I; Inigo Jones; Jacobean period; London; Paul's work; St.Paul's Cathedral



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