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Address: Fleet Street | Fleet Street, London EC4Y 8AU, England
Phone Number: +44 20 7427 0133
Website
Today
08:00 - 18:00
Closed now
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Hours:
Sun 10:00 - 18:30
Mon 08:00 - 18:00
Fri 08:00 - 18:00
Sat 10:00 - 16:00
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Description:

Just down the road from majestic St Paul's Cathedral is another of Sir...

Just down the road from majestic St Paul's Cathedral is another of Sir Christopher Wren's creations, the little known church of St Bride's, also called "The Journalists' Church." Tucked away in a busy corner of Fleet Street, it is easy to miss, but look out for the towering steeple. It may look unremarkable next to the grandeur of St Paul's, but this tiny church was the home of the first printing press, inspired the multilayered wedding cake and triggered a row between Benjamin Franklin and George the III. Among the parishioners of this church were such literary figures as Milton, Dryden, Johnson and Pepys. St Bride takes its name from the Irish saint St Bridget of Kildare, a 5th century Irish saint famous for her hospitality, who founded several churches. Since then, several reconstructions have followed. After the original church was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666, Sir Christopher Wren redesigned the building in 1673. His building, in turn, was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, but the much-admired steeple survived. The present building is a reconstruction of Wren's design. As you step into the church, you will notice the several memorials to journalists, newspapers and the printing trade. In 1500 William Caxton's assistant, the aptly named Wynkyn de Worde, brought the first moveable type printing press to the church courtyard. It was used to print religious books and messages from the clergy, and later to print books and plays. Nearby churches also began to set up printing presses, and ever since then Fleet Street has been the centre of the publishing industry. Writers including Samuel Johnson, Boswell and Pope lived near St Bride's. That quintessential Londoner, Samuel Pepys, was born just around the corner and baptized in St Bride's. The journalist's altar at one end of the church was established when hostages were being taken in the Middle East. It now commemorates journalists killed or injured worldwide. A brass plaque also commemorates the 300th anniversary of the founding of the world's first daily newspaper, the Daily Courant, in 1702. The graceful spire, originally 234 feet, is the tallest of Wren's steeples and has inspired many a poet. Among these was W.E. Henley, who in his poem "The Song of the Sword" described the spire thus, The while the fanciful, formal finicking charm Of Bride's, that madrigal of the stone Grows flushed and warm And beauteous with a beauty not its own. The spire also inspired a Fleet Street confectioner called Thomas Rich, who made a replica of the spire in icing, a model for the traditional wedding cake still seen today. The party dress of Rich's wife is displayed in a glass case in the church, perhaps in thanks for her contribution! The steeple also triggered a comical row between King George the III and scientist Benjamin Franklin. In 1764 the spire was struck by lightening, which reduced its height by 8 feet. Franklin, by then considered an expert on lightning, was asked to advise the King on the installation of lightening rods. Franklin suggested installing conductors with pointed ends, but the King wanted to install blunt ones. Not surprisingly, the King got his way. The British political press was delighted with the outcome, and published propaganda gleefully praising the King "as good blunt honest George" while the hapless Franklin was described as "a sharp-witted colonist." The church has other connections to America. The parents of Virginia Dare, the first white child born in America and named after the state of Virginia, were married in this church in 1584. A bust of Virginia was originally displayed in the church, but was later stolen. A replica stands in its place. Edward Winslow, one of the leaders of the Mayflower and later Governor of Plymouth in Massachusetts, was also married in this church. It was not until 1953 that archeologists discovered that St Bride's stands on Roman remains dating back to the 2nd century A.D, including a Roman pavement. On a grislier note the church crypt was also found to contain thousands of human remains, thought to belong to victims of the Great Plague of 1665 and the cholera epidemic of 1854. These have now been given a proper burial, and visitors interested in the church's Roman origins can now enter the crypt to see the original Roman ruins. by Kavitha Rao

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A Wren church

A lovely church dedicated to journalism as it is just off Fleet Street and home for printing for centuries. As with so many churches in the City, rebuilt after the Great Fire of... read more

5 of 5 bubblesReviewed 1 week ago
lgmsomerset
,
Frome, United Kingdom
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63 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 54: English reviews
Frome, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
219 reviews
156 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

A lovely church dedicated to journalism as it is just off Fleet Street and home for printing for centuries. As with so many churches in the City, rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in 1666 and bombed during the WWII but faithfully restored. Interesting history in the crypt Do look at the spire - just like a tiered wedding... More 

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Thank lgmsomerset
Level Contributor
195 reviews
118 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 103 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Despite so many new tall buildings in this part of London, the spire of St. Bride's stands out as being highly distinctive. The architectural pundits criticise it for looking like an extendable telescope. the interior is slightly over whelmed by timber panelling which might not be an original feature.

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Thank Vincent D
Level Contributor
28 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 October 2016

A lovely church just off Fleet Street, beautiful quiet and peaceful courtyard that several people were sitting in and enjoying as I walked up. A friendly woman welcomed me into the church and invited me to walk around. In the basement there is an informative historical display and excavations to view.

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Thank mom2mggm
San Diego, California
Level Contributor
319 reviews
207 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 October 2016

This is another beautiful Christopher Wren church, very light and airy on the interior, more so than any other church I have visited. Beautiful use of wood to break up the stone. And the steeple sets the pattern for wedding cakes, world round. The church offers free lunchtime recitals on Tuesdays and Fridays at 1:15 pm - so check their... More 

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Thank Jack B
Weston, Florida
Level Contributor
175 reviews
61 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 August 2016 via mobile

Nice and historical place in London city, full of history specially with the origin of the church, it's actually a wedding cake design and then the tradition of such cakes began!

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Thank ManuelEGarcia
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Level Contributor
353 reviews
133 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 August 2016

This beautiful church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and was begun in 1673 but not completed until 1703. The spire is the tallest that Wren built and is the model for traditional wedding cakes. Although the interior of the church was destroyed in WWII, it has been rebuilt. St. Bride's is a beautiful church and the large crypt is... More 

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Thank TravelFan48105
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
70 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 July 2016

Found this church while waiting for a meeting. I was dumbstruck. It is one of the most lovely churches in London. A great place to think, smile and relax with no disturbance. The interior is amazing with classical floor and light pews either side, there is also a hidden world and alternative altar in the crypt 100% worth a trip... More 

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Thank Barrie G
Clanfield, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
201 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 July 2016

OK so there is a major renovation underway but this no way detracts from the beauty and tranquility of the church. History oozes from every pore. The wonderful crypt area with its exposed sections of Roman pavement is also a treat and the whole building encapsulates the entire history of London over the last 2000 years. If you are visiting... More 

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Thank Andy S
Jacksonville, Florida
Level Contributor
30 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 June 2016

After you've been dazzled by St Paul's Cathedral, hunt down some of Christopher Wren's other masterpieces. Be sure to stand at a distance and check out the spire of St. Bride's---looks like a wedding cake. Beautiful, smaller Wren treasure.

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1 Thank Davann123
Camberley, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
213 reviews
62 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 June 2016

A haven of peace and quiet with a long history off Fleet Street. Unfortunately full of scaffolding inside when we visited recently but we were lucky to hear the organist practice. Crypts open still. Should be even more worthy of a visit when renovation is completed. Lots of history here.

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Thank Berdy2014

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City of London
From its ancient past as a Roman trading outpost to its 21st century status as the wealthiest square mile in the world, the financial district known simply as “The City” is one of London's most historic and fascinating neighbourhoods. Here high rise office towers such as Norman Foster’s Gherkin mingle with Roman ruins and architectural marvels from virtually every era in between, including Christopher Wren's glorious St.Paul's Cathedral, and John Soane's dauntingly classicist Bank of England. This neighbourhood is also home to some of the finest restaurants and plushest hotels in Europe, in addition to an assortment of of watering holes, upscale shops, and Tube stations. During the week, the City is abuzz with white collar workers going about their business; the weekend sees this area turn into a quiet haven for sightseers.
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