There has been a church on this site, dedicated to St Benet (or Benedict), since the 12th century, Shakespeare refers to it and both Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey may have received the last rites here.
Frequently at the centre of national events, traditions have been observed here and radical new ideas have found expression under the iconic dome. In many cases these events have left some physical record as well as echoes in the intangible memory of the building.
The present cathedral, the masterpiece of Britain's most famous architect Sir Christopher Wren, is at least the fourth to have stood on the site. It was built between 1675 and 1710, after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and services began in 1697.
This was the first cathedral to be built after the English Reformation in the 16th century, when Henry VIII removed the Church of England from the jurisdiction of the Pope and the Crown took control of the life of the church.