St Bride’s Church

Nuggets – bite size chunks of London


St Bride’s Church

 

Hidden London: St Brides church steepleIt is pos­si­ble that a Roman build­ing on this site was a place of Chris­t­ian wor­ship. A church was first built here in the 6th cen­tu­ry and ded­i­cat­ed to St Bridg­it or St Bride of Kil­dare. It was rebuilt in the 12th cen­tu­ry and again in the 15th.

Fol­low­ing its destruc­tion in the Great Fire of Lon­don, the church was rebuilt yet again (1672–4), this time by Christo­pher Wren, who in 1701–3 added a steeple that made this his tallest City church. Its shape does not mere­ly resem­ble a very sharply point­ed wed­ding cake, it is said to have inspired its inven­tion.

St Bride’s was bombed to a shell on the night of the ‘Sec­ond Fire of Lon­don’ dur­ing the Blitz – but the steeple sur­vived.

The church, which has been dubbed ‘the cathe­dral of Fleet Street’ – and nowa­days calls itself ‘the spir­i­tu­al home of the media’ – was restored with the finan­cial sup­port of the news­pa­per indus­try and reded­i­cat­ed in 1957. New side aisles made of Eng­lish and Euro­pean oak were installed in 2004, offer­ing bet­ter views for large con­gre­ga­tions while pre­serv­ing the church’s char­ac­ter.

Memo­r­i­al ser­vices are often held here for media indus­try peo­ple. The Jour­nal­ists’ Altar in the north-east cor­ner car­ries prayers for reporters who are miss­ing or who have lost their lives in cur­rent con­flicts.

In 2013 work began on restor­ing St Bride’s icon­ic spire, which is suf­fer­ing bad­ly from ero­sion and stain­ing, and from the rust­ing of Wren’s orig­i­nal iron cramps, which is break­ing stone faces apart. Fur­ther dona­tions are need­ed for the work to be com­plet­ed – but when Hid­den Lon­don last checked St Bride’s web­site (Feb­ru­ary 2019) there had been no update on the progress of the appeal since 2015.

The church is usu­al­ly open to the pub­lic through­out the day from Sun­day to Fri­day. Guid­ed tours are avail­able.