The first cathedral was founded by *Æthelbert, king of Kent, on the site of a former Roman temple (604); destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt in stone (675–85) by Bishop Earconweald, but was destroyed by Vikings (962). The third building burned down in 1087, and its replacement, known as ‘Old St Paul's’, outshone anything previously seen in London, the largest church in England and third largest in Europe. Deprived of much of its revenue by the Reformation, structural decay set in; houses and shops were erected against its walls, and the nave became a common thoroughfare (‘Paul's Walk’) and place for conducting business. Destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, Wren's new cathedral was completed in his lifetime. It has continued as a focus for state services, surviving the Blitz and retaining a close relationship with the city.
Subjects: Christianity — British History.