St Bride's Church Fleet Street - London

St Bride's Church is a church in the City of London, England. It could well be one of the most ancient, with worship perhaps dating back to the conversion of the Middle Saxons in the 7th century. It has been conjectured that, as the patron saint is Irish, it may have been founded by Celtic monks, missionaries proselytising the English.

 

The building's most recent incarnation was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1672 on Fleet Street in the City of London. Due to its location on Fleet Street it has a long association with journalists and newspapers. The church is a distinctive sight on London's skyline and is clearly visible from a number of locations. Standing 69m high, it is the 2nd tallest of all Wren's churches, with only St Paul's itself having a higher pinnacle. The tiered spire is said to have been the inspiration for the design of modern tiered wedding cakes.

 

The church, dedicated to St Bridget of Ireland, was gutted by fire-bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, on the night of 29th December 1940, dubbed 'The Second Great Fire of London'. It was rebuilt at the expense of newspaper proprietors and journalists.

 

The present St Bride's is at least the seventh church to have stood on the site. Traditionally it was founded by St Bridget in the sixth century. Whether or not she founded it personally, the remnants of the first church appear to have significant similarities to a church of the same date in Kildare, Ireland. The Norman church, built in the 11th century, was of both religious and secular significance; in 1210 King John held a parliament there. It was replaced by a larger church in the 15th century, but this burned down in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was replaced by Wren with one of his largest and most expensive works, taking seven years to built.

 

The famous spire was added later, in 1701-1703. It originally measured 234 ft but lost its upper eight feet to a lightning strike in 1764. The design utilises four octagonal stages of diminishing height capped with an obelisk which terminates in a ball and vane.

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  • Aitor Vilchez 8y

  • Constant 7y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called "Special Relationship" British American Relations, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.

    Originally the tallest of Wren's church spires, it stood a lofty 234 feet until lightening struck in 1764. This unfortunate incident not only reduced the structure by eight feet but sparked off a row of spectacular proportions between King George III and the American scientist and philosopher, Benjamin Franklin. Renowned for his experiments with electricity, Franklin was called in to advise the King on the question of lightening rods. Franklin recommended conductors with pointed ends but the King argued in favour of blunt ones. Political pamphleteers had a field day with the resulting controversy, delighting in references to 'good, blunt, honest King George' and 'those sharp-witted colonists.'

    St. Bride's had, in fact, figured strongly in the history of those same colonists for some two hundred years by then. The parents of Virginia Dare, the first child born to English emigrants to North Carolina in 1587, were married at the church. The event is commemorated in a touching bust of a little girl, which is made all the more poignant for the fact that Virginia was fated to disappear along with other members of Raleigh's Lost Colony. The bust can be found by the font.
    One of the most striking features of modern-day St. Bride's also owes its inspiration to the church's American links. The great free-standing canopied oak reredos which enshrines the church altar is a memorial to the Pilgrim Fathers. This connection was made thirty-three years after Virginia Dare's birth when Edward Winslow (1595 - 1655) became one of the leaders of the Mayflower expedition. Winslow, who was elected Governor of Plymouth, Massachusetts three times, served as a boy apprentice in Fleet Street and would have known St. Bride's well. His parents were also married there.

    In the same timescale, St. Bride's parish was busily helping to populate yet another English colony. One hundred girls and boys from the Bridewell Hospital orphanage were sent to Virginia in 1619. The project was so successful that the governor requested a hundred more. All the youngsters received grants of land on coming of age.
  • Nick Garrod 7y

    Duly posted and thank you for the additional information.
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