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.