Published September 10, 2021 

St Paul’s Cathedral, Old Deanery – Six things you might not know

by Eamonn Mullally


What a privilege it was for Six in the City to be appointed as the official guides around The Old Deanery, for its first inclusion in the Open House Festival. We thought we’d follow it up with our top Six things you might not know about The Old Deanery.

The Old Deanery
The Old Deanery ©2021 Pat Langford


  1. A Deanery is where you would expect the Dean of a Cathedral or College to live, and this was the case for the Dean of  St Pauls who lived here from 1154 until 1976 when the Dean moved to a more comfortable house.
  2. During the English Civil War Parliament decided the house should be used as a temporary prison. It was treated so badly it was demolished in the mid-1650s and replaced with tenements and shops which were burnt down during the great Fire of London in 1666.
  3. For many years it was thought that Sir Christopher Wren designed the Deanery house but it was more likely to have been Edward Woodroofe who is known to have surveyed the site and produced an estimate in 1669 to rebuild it. By the time the house was built in 1672/73 Woodroofe, considered by Wren to be his best draughtsman, was also working on the design of the replacement Cathedral and some historians have speculated that Wren may have influenced the final design of the Deanery house.
  4. The cost of building the Deanery plus a stables, coach house and wood house was £2792 1s 2d when it was completed in 1673. Great value for a house that has stood for almost 350 years. The stables, coach house and wood house were all demolished in the late 19th century and replaced by a Cathedral Choir School, completed in 1874.
  5. Many people speculate about the latin wording around former Cathedral Choir School which you can see in Carter Lane. Roughly translated it means ‘But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world, Galatians 6:14’. The  school  moved out in the 1960s to its present location in New Change and the old building became a Youth Hostel.
  6. Between 1981 and 1992 the Deanery was the UK HQ for Fennoscandia Bank. Then in 1996 it became the administrative HQ for the Bishop of London, the third most senior cleric in the Church of England. Today the Bishop Sarah Mullally, the first female Bishop of London, her staff and others responsible for Diocesan matters use the building as their office.

Super cool, eh?

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