Can You Take Photos in St Paul's Cathedral?

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Can you take photos in St Paul's Cathedral?

The short answer is yes, but there are quite a lot of restrictions, which you can see below. But this is better than some other big churches in London, which ban photography altogether.


What are the rules on photography in St Paul's Cathedral?

Flowers outside St Pauls Cathedral

Photo by Jacob Hilton on Unsplash

It is fine to take photos of the outside, but what about inside St Paul's?

St Paul's Cathedral is an iconic symbol of London, ever since it was rebuilt after The Great Fire of London in 1666. The Cathedral is on the must-visit list of many tourists to London and of course those tourists want to take photos to show the folks back home.

But St Paul's is also a working church with regular services. Its main purpose is as a place of worship and prayer. And it is a pretty important church, right up there with Westminster Abbey in the grand scheme of things.

The rules around photography are an attempt to balance these two realities, to allow the work of the Cathedral to continue and at the same time to allow hundreds of thousands of tourists to visit respectfully and to create lasting memories.

The rules are:

  • You can take photos during sightseeing hours, usually 8.30-4.15pm Monday to Saturday
  • Photography isn't permitted during services or on Sunday at any time
  • You can't use flash, additional lighting or tripods to take your photos
  • No videoing is allowed
  • You must get permission from the accompanying adult to take photos of children
  • Photography isn't allowed in St Dunstan's Chapel or the Whispering Gallery at any time. It may be temporarily forbidden in other areas and this will be clearly indicated by signs
  • Advanced permission is required for commercial photography - see here for more information

If you think these restrictions are a bit limiting, then you are right, but they are an improvement on the previous rules, which were photography NOT allowed anywhere at any time!

Why did the photography rules change?

No photos sign

Credit: Darren Lewis

Photography in St Paul's Cathedral was banned until recently

Until June 2019, photography wasn't allowed in St Paul's Cathedral at all. In this St Paul's was in good company - photography was (and still is) banned in Westminster Abbey.

But this rule was widely ignored by tourists visiting the Cathedral and not enforced rigorously by the Cathedral staff. It may be that with everyone now in possession of a smartphone, the Cathedral decided to accept the inevitable and change the rules.

The Cathedral may also have felt that by allowing photography but with certain restrictions, they might be able to protect what was important, and prevent photography during services and in restricted and sensitive areas.

What you should see in St Paul's Cathedral

The Whispering Gallery in St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's is a vast building, the largest church in London and the second largest in the United Kingdom. It has also existing as a church in the same place for over 1400 hundred years; the current building is over 300 years old. So it won't be a surprise that there is an lot to see on a visit.

The highlights include:

Tombs of the Great and the Good

We all have our own view of great and good, St Paul's include the tombs of Admiral Lord Nelson, Sir Christopher Wren and the Duke of Wellington.

There are memorials to Florence Nightingale (who refused to be buried in the Cathedral), J. M. W. Turner, Samuel Johnson, Lawrence of Arabia, William Blake and Sir Alexander Fleming.

The Whispering Gallery

The Whispering Gallery is so called because it is said that you can hear someone whispering on the other side of the Gallery, the acoustics are so good. You just have to hope for a quiet day to test the legend.

St Paul's Cathedral visitor information

The important things you need to know about visiting this stunning building are below.

  • How to get to St Paul's Cathedral: The address of the Cathedral is St. Paul's Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD. See a Google map here
    The easiest way to get around London is of course the tube (underground). The best stop for St Paul's is um, St Paul's, on the Central (red) line
    The train is also a good way to get to St Paul's. The nearest station is City Thameslink and it is a few minutes walk to the Cathedral
    There are countless buses that go by St Paul's Cathedral, including numbers 4, 11, 15, 23, 25, 26, 100 and 242
    You can drive, although parking on the surrounding streets is extremely limited. The best way to find parking in London is to use an app or website, for example JustPark
    If you are on the Southbank, then you can walk across the Millennium Bridge, and as you do so, make sure you enjoy the view of the Cathedral in front of you
  • Tickets: You can buy tickets on the door, but you get 15% off if you buy online. Booking online also means that you can get a guaranteed 30 minute entry time window. The current price for a family of 2 adults + 2 kids is £41.20. With Covid still among us, check the opening hours and restrictions carefully here.
  • Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 8.30am - 4.30pm (last entry 4.00pm)
  • How long will a visit to St Paul's take?: It all depends, but up to 2 hours, if you can get access to the Whispering Gallery
  • Other information: You can't take large bags into the Cathedral, and any bags you bring in might be searched. There is a café in the crypt of the Cathedral if you need a break.