Who's Buried in St Paul's Cathedral
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Who's Buried in St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral is one of the most iconic landmarks in London. It's also one of the most visited, with countless people wandering its halls throughout the year. But St. Paul's also doubles as a crypt, where some of the bravest and brightest minds are laid to rest. But who's buried in St Paul's Cathedral? Find out below!

Including:

  • Aethelred the Unready
  • Sir Christopher Wren
  • Horatio Nelson
  • Joseph Turner
  • and more!

Aethelred the Unready

We'll start at the beginning because chronological order rules. So, hop in your time machine as we take a journey back to 1016 and attend the funeral of the late King Aethelred the Unready. As you can guess by his title, he wasn't the most beloved king.

So, was it preparedness? Was he too young to take the throne? Well, no. See, Aethelred's title is actually a mistranslation. The original name more closely translates to "ill-advised". Historical documents from his reign detail questionable decisions that bordered on comedic. When Vikings came knocking at his door with blooded axes, Aethelred the Unready chose to try and pay them off rather than meet them with steel. But, when all your opponent really wants is a payday, giving them what they want is hardly a deterrent. In fact, they just want more - like a modern email scam. As such, many more Viking clans came a-knocking, quickly drying up the country's coffers.

Regardless of his choices - and unwise advisors - Aethelred the Unready lies buried at St. Paul's Cathedral. And, while he might not top any lists of the who's who of those buried in St. Paul's Cathedral, he tops ours. Again, because of chronology.

Image courtesy of Natata/Shutterstock

Sir Christopher Wren

You may have never heard of ol' Aethelred, but you've almost certainly heard of Sir Christopher Wren. An architectural tour de force, Wren is responsible for many of London's most iconic landmarks. The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, Kensington Palace, and yes, even St. Paul's Cathedral are just some of the many structures he designed in the wake of the Great Fire of London, which destroyed much of old London on a hot summer's day in 1666.

So yes, the big man even designed the very building where he was laid to rest. But did you know that nearly wasn't the case? In fact, after his death, there were no plans to entomb him in St Paul's. However, thanks to a public outcry, plans changed.

And, rather amusingly, Wren even joked that, when designing the building, he had the perfect place to put his tomb. And, when you go to see his final resting place, you'll find it in the exact same place he first pointed out. Now that's a story!

Horatio Nelson

Next, we take to the seas and toast this legend of an admiral without comparison. Horatio Nelson was a hero of the Napoleonic Wars, ensuring decisive victories against the French.

Having fought in constant wars from his younger years through to his Admiralcy, Nelson's luck ran out during the famous Battle of Trafalgar, when a musket round pierced his shoulder, lung, and spine. While it may be a struggle to survive such wounds in the modern day, back in the 19th Century, it was a death sentence.

But a man of such renown could not be buried at sea. There was only ever one place Nelson would be buried; St. Paul's Cathedral. But the journey from Trafalgar to London is long, and there weren't exactly freezers back then. So what did his crew do? They buried his body in a casket full of brandy, which just so happened to be Nelson's tipple of choice. The brandy helped preserve the admiral's body as it was safely transported to St Paul's.

A boozy return for a deserving fellow.

Joseph Turner

Yep, St. Paul's Cathedral doesn't just welcome war heroes, kings, and giants of the architectural world. It welcomes painters too. Ladies and gentlemen, Joseph Turner.

Turner was known for his breathtaking paintings capturing the essence of nature's beauty. Famous for this oceanic artwork, you'll likely recognise many of his paintings like The Shipwreck, Fisherman at Sea, and The Fighting Temeraire.

Turner's work is almost immediately identifiable - no one paints quite like that. But legends suggest this isn't due solely to his skill. Supposedly, he made his own paints using unique elements such as herbs and spices, giving his paintings their unique look.

Duke of Wellington

Just when you thought we'd turned a corner, boom, another war hero appears! And yes, it's yet another military leader whose biggest triumphs occurred during the Napoleonic Wars. However, the difference between Horatio Nelson and the Duke of Wellington, aka Arthur Wellesley, is that while Nelson's victories took place on sea, the Duke of Wellington's victories happened on land.

But, while his military prowess has been celebrated for centuries, the ol' Duke has a sense of humour too. At dinner one night, long before his death in 1852, Wellesley said that he didn't care where he was buried as long as they buried him in his boots. Maybe you had to be there?

Either way, his wish came true, and he now rests beneath St. Paul's Cathedral, buried in his boots.

Alexander Fleming

And finally, last but certainly not least on our list is perhaps the most deserving. He may not be a king, an artist, or a "war hero" - though he did serve in a war - but his work has arguably saved more lives than anyone else. Not just on this list, but on the planet. You may not know his name, but you know his work. Ever taken an antibiotic? Well, you might not have if it wasn't for Alexander Fleming.

The brilliant Scottish microbiologist was the first to discover that bacteria avoided certain fungi. Following testing, he realised why; said certain fungi kill them. This discovery snowballed into penicillin, the first antibiotic. And, to put it mildly, penicillin changed the world. No longer were infections a roll of the dice. Now, people would survive.

If anyone deserves their resting place beneath the hallowed halls of St. Paul's Cathedral, it's Alexander Fleming.

So, if you were wondering who's buried in St Paul's Cathedral, wonder no more. Of course, this is just a handful of the many luminaries who now call it "home", so go visit and see them all for yourself! Westminster Abbey is another popular burial place for famous faces of history so you could have your fill of historic graves in Westminster Abbey or St Pauls' Cathedral but with the London Pass, you can visit both and even skip the queue at St Paul's, as well as all of London's biggest attractions, for one low price!

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