St Paul’s Cathedral, London, is a Church of England cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of London and mother church of the Diocese of London. It sits at the top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. The present church, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. Its construction, completed within Wren’s lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding programme which took place in the city after the Great Fire of London.
The library’s collection was almost completely destroyed in the Great Fire of London. Lists surviving from 1313 onwards give a picture of the pre-fire library. Wren’s library chamber was restocked by the Commissioners for rebuilding St Paul’s: they bought collections, including valuable Bibles and liturgical texts, and were fortunate to receive a generous bequest in 1712 of nearly two thousand volumes from the library of Henry Compton, late Bishop of London. In 1783 the library of John Mangey, Vicar of Dunmow and Prebendary of St Paul’s, was added. In the nineteenth century large collections of ecclesiastical tracts and pamphlets were brought in and improvements made to the library’s holdings of sermons preached in the Cathedral and at Paul’s Cross. The subject strength of the historical collections lies in theology, church history and patristics. Current acquisitions are restricted to major works on the history of the Church in England, on Wren and the building of the Cathedral, the Church in the City, and ‘alumni’ material.