I was honoured to attend the service yesterday at St Paul's Cathedral to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the completion of its rebuilding in 1711 after the Great Fire of London. The Cathedral was full and, along with the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs, it was wonderful to see Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh in the congregation. It was a great occasion for the City of London.
And it was a great occasion for the Stationers' Company too! For I was amazed and delighted to hear a reading from the diaries of John Evelyn, dated 7 September 1666, in which he laments the destruction of the medieval cathedral:
'At my return, I was infinitely concerned to find that goodly church, St Paul's - now a sad ruin . . . The ruins of the vaulted roof falling, broke into St Faith's, which being filled with the magazines of books belonging to the Stationers, and carried hither for safety, they were all consumed, burning for a week following.'
It was pleasing to see the history of this magnifient Cathedral so publically linked with the history of our dear Company: a proud moment to be a Stationer!