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Tuesday, 12 February, 2002, 10:54 GMT
St Paul's reveals former glory
St Paul's Cathedral
The internal restoration will cost 10.8m
The interior of St Paul's Cathedral has been unveiled as it was when it was built for the first time in nearly 300 years.

Restoration work on the south transept has stripped away centuries of dirt to reveal the natural cream colour of the walls' Portland stone.

It is the first phase of a 40m programme of work at the cathedral.

The latest technology has made it possible to reveal details in the carvings which have been lost for centuries.

Inside St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's has hosted many state occasions

The internal cleaning and relighting of the cathedral will take four years and will cost 10.8m.

It has been funded by an "outstandingly generous" donation from a single family, cathedral authorities said.

The internal cleaning aims to tackle 300 years of heavy use and air pollution.

In 1709, as the cathedral approached completion, the architect St Christopher Wren arranged for the entire interior to be painted "three times in oyle".

By the mid-19th Century, the painted surface would have been flaky and darkened with age.

Between 1873 and 1876 it was removed but an attempt to clean the exposed stonework in 1935 ended in failure because no suitable alternative was available.

Wren's vision

The current work began in May 2001 following extensive research.

The Dean of St Paul's, the Very Reverend Dr John Moses, said: "We will be able to show, for the first time in nearly 300 years, Wren's vision for the interior of the south transept revealed in the light and shade of the cleaned stonework."

Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to design the cathedral in 1668 - two years after the Great Fire of London destroyed the old St Paul's.

Problems with the great architect's plans delayed the start of work for more than 20 years but the building was finally completed in 1710.

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See also:

03 Dec 97 | St Pauls Cathedral
St Paul's celebrates its 300th anniversary
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