St Bride's Church

St Bride's Church

March 2011

St Bride's Church

Fleet Street, London EC4Y 8AU
17th century

Description of St Bride's Church

In 1671 the Churchwardens of St Bride's took Mr Christopher Wren (Surveyor General and Principal Architect for rebuilding the City) to dinner at the Globe Tavern at a cost of £2 17s. 0d. It would take another year before they could convince him of their cause which would result in St Bride's being one of the first post-Fire churches to be opened.

The Fire destroyed 87 City churches. St Bride's was among the 51 to be rebuilt despite Wren's claim that only 39 were necessary in such a small area. The £500 required as a deposit by Guildhall to get things under way was raised in a month, a remarkable effort as most of the parishoners had lost homes and businesses in the Fire. However, this was not an end to the financial problems and money remained tight. A combination of Coal Dues, donations and loans eventually met the buildings cost of £11,430 5s. 11d.

Joshua Marshall was the main contractor for the works. Parishoner and Master Mason to the king, like his father before him, Marshall was a wise choice. He also worked with Wren on Temple Bar and the Monument. One assistant was the young Nicholas Hawksmoor, who was to become a renowned architect himself.

As today, the main material for the church was Portland stone. By September 1672, within a year of starting, the walls had reached the upper part of the cornice. The speed of progress was partly ascribed to the fact that the workmen had a hostel by the church, The Old Bell Tavern, built for them by Wren. By 1674 the main structural work was complete and a year later the church was finally reopened for worship on Sunday 19th December.

Though the church was open it was not completed. Most notably the tower remained unfinished. In 1682 the Churchwardens again approached Wren - this time about building the steeple. Work did not begin on this until 1701 and took two years to complete. At 226 feet high, Wren designed his highest steeple which was to withstand both lightning and war.


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