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St. Bride's Church
Exterior of St. Bride's Church from Fleet Street with spire
Exterior of St. Bride's Church from Fleet Street with spire

Country United Kingdom
Denomination Church of England
Website www.stbrides.com
Architecture
Architect(s) Sir Christopher Wren
Style Baroque

St Bride's Church is a church in the City of London, England. 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 69 meters 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.

It could well be one of the most ancient in London, 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 St Bridget of Ireland, it may have been founded by Celtic monks, missionaries proselytising the English[1].

St Bride's Spire, January 2009

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[2], but this burned down in the Great Fire of London in 1666[3]. It was replaced by Wren with one of his largest and most expensive works, taking seven years to build[4].

The famous spire was added later, in 1701-1703[5]. 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.

The church was gutted by fire-bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe during the London Blitz of the Second World War, on the night of 29 December 1940, dubbed the "Second Great Fire of London". It was rebuilt at the expense of newspaper proprietors and journalists.

Buried at St. Bride's is Robert Levet (Levett), a Yorkshireman who became a Parisian waiter, then a 'practicer of physick' who ministered to the denizens of London's seedier neighborhoods. Having been duped into a bad marriage, the hapless Levet was taken in by the author Samuel Johnson who wrote his poem "On the Death of Mr. Robert Levet" eulogizing his good friend and tenant of many years.[6] Also buried at St Bride's are the organist and composer, Thomas Weelkes (d. 1623) and the poet, Richard Lovelace (d.1658), as well as author Samuel Richardson (d. 1761)

St Bride's Church Interior

In September 2007 the current vicar, Canon David Meara announced a special appeal to raise 3.5 million GBP to preserve the church's unique heritage[7] and on November 2007 The Queen was guest of honour at a service to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the restoration work necessary after the Second World War[8].

The church was designated a Grade I listed building on 04 January 1950.[9] The church also has a place in sport, as the world table tennis men's singles champion is awarded the St. Bride vase.

Contents

Music

The choir in its present form (12 professional singers - 4 sopranos, 2 altos, 3 tenors and 3 basses) was established in time for the re-dedication service in 1957, and has remained more or less in this format ever since. The choir sings at two services each Sunday throughout the year (reducing to 8 singers during August) and also for numerous special services. The Director of Music is Robert Jones, and the Assistant Director of Music is Matthew Morley.

The organ is built by the John Compton Organ Company, and arguably their finest work, the organ was ready for the Rededication of the Church in November 1957. It has recently been completely overhauled and cleaned by Keith Bance, who has carried out some modest tonal updating. This included remodelling the Positive division, adding new Mixture stops to the Great and Pedal divisions and the provision of a new Vox Humana for the Solo division. These changes have further increased the resources of an already versatile instrument. The organ has four manuals, 98 speaking stops, close to 4000 pipes, a multi-level capture system and the "wind" is provided by four blowing installations.

See also the List of Organ Scholars at St Bride's Church.

References

  1. ^ "The Visitors Guide to the City of London Churches" Tucker,T: London, Friends of the City Churches, 2006 ISBN 0955394503
  2. ^ The diarist Samuel Pepys was christened here in 1733-"Pepys: the unequalled self" Tomalin,C: London, Viking, 2002 ISBN 0670885681
  3. ^ Samuel Pepys-The Shorter Pepys Latham,R(Ed) p484: Harmondsworth,1985 ISBN 0140094180
  4. ^ "The Old Churches of London" Cobb,G: London, Batsford, 1942
  5. ^ "London:the City Churches” Pevsner,N/Bradley,S : New Haven, Yale, 1998 ISBN 0300096550
  6. ^ London, John Heneage Jesse, R. Bentley, London, 1871
  7. ^ Deadlines and lifelines at St Bride's: article by Clive Aslet in Daily Telegraph Weekend Section page W3, 22nd September 2007 (Issue no 47, 370)
  8. ^ Event Details
  9. ^ Images of England — details from listed building database (199464) accessed 23 January 2009

See also

External links

Coordinates: 51°30′50″N 0°6′21″W / 51.51389°N 0.10583°W / 51.51389; -0.10583

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