Architectural Archive

Scope and Content

Drawings, papers, reports, photographs and printed items created and generated in connection with the office of the Surveyor to the Fabric. The records document both the day-to-day maintenance of St Paul's Cathedral and specific structural repair, cleaning and decoration projects. They date primarily from the surveyorship of F.C. Penrose (1852-1897) to the present day. Subjects include the decoration of the interior during the second half of the nineteenth century, the extension and rearrangement of the choir in the 1870s, the structural reinforcement of the dome in the 1920s, the post-war reconstruction and redesign of the bomb-damaged east end, north transept and Chapter House, and more recent works such as the interior cleaning project.

Historic files, photographs and drawings from the Clerk of Work's office and from consulting engineers and designers are also kept in the architectural archive.

Administrative / Biographical History

The post of Surveyor has existed since St Paul's Cathedral was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London. At that time, the architect of the new building, Sir Christopher Wren, held the title "Surveyor General of the Royal Works", the highest architectural office in the Kingdom, conferred on him by Charles II in 1669. Subsequently, the post became that of "Surveyor to the Fabric". Wren died in 1723 and since his appointment, there have been sixteen Surveyors: John James, Henry Flitcroft, Stiff Leadbetter, Robert Mylne, Samuel Pepys Cockerell, Charles Robert Cockerell, Francis Cranmer Penrose, Somers Clarke (Consultant Architect), Mervyn Macartney, Walter Godfrey Allen, Lord Mottistone, Paul Paget, Bernard Feilden (Consultant Architect), William Whitfield and Martin Stancliffe. The Surveyor was expected to be a "skilful architect", whose responsibility was to survey the whole of the building twice per year under the direction of the Dean and Chapter. In addition, the Surveyor was required to make a report to the Dean and Chapter on the condition of the building and, if necessary, to the Commissioners.The maintenance and repair of the fabric began prior to the completion of the building; accounts record repairs in 1689. It has continued ever since to a greater or lesser degree as requirements and available finances dictate. A fund for the upkeep of the fabric was established in Wren's period as Surveyor, under the Trusteeship of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London and the Lord Mayor of London. This fabric fund continued to the early twentieth century, but throughout the later nineteenth century, the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral increasingly took control of the fabric repairs and finances. The fabric fund paid for restoration work on Thornhill's paintings in the Dome in the nineteenth century, but generally it did not stretch beyond maintenance of the fabric; monies for large structural projects or decoration schemes were obtained by appeal/donation. This remains the case today.The Surveyor has responsibility for the fabric of the building, its decoration and architectural components and fittings. Surveyors at the cathedral have been instrumental in testing and developing new techniques, processes and technologies for maintaining the structure, measuring the cathedral's movements, and monitoring its environment.


The records are arranged in the following series:

  • Drawings
  • Surveyors' Reports to Dean and Chapter
  • Surveyors' and Clerk of Works' papers
  • Archaeological reports
  • Photographs
  • Photograph albums
  • Printed miscellanea

Access Information

Access is strictly by appointment only. Please contact the architectural archivist. Material dating from 1990 to the present day is not currently available for public consultation.


Accruals expected from the current and future Surveyors to the Fabric, Clerk of Works, contractors, consultants and designers.

Related Material

The building records and drawings relating to the original construction and design by Sir Christopher Wren are held on long term deposit with the Dean and Chapter's archive at London Metropolitan Archives.

Geographical Names