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St. Bride's

#313 of 2,352 things to do in London
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Address: Fleet Street, London EC4Y 8AU, England
Phone Number: +44 20 7427 0133
8:30 am - 6:30 pm
Open now
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Sun 10:00 am - 6:30 pm
Mon - Fri 8:30 am - 6:30 pm
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 Printer's 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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See the crypt

A beautiful church that was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, but destroyed in WW2 and rebuilt. It is the church for journalists and printers. You must visit the crypt which... read more

4 of 5 starsReviewed April 26, 2015
Alan M
Torquay, United Kingdom
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39 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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English first
Torquay, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
91 reviews 91 reviews
39 attraction reviews
76 helpful votes 76 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2015

A beautiful church that was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, but destroyed in WW2 and rebuilt. It is the church for journalists and printers. You must visit the crypt which shows the amazing history of this site, going back to Roman times. One of those amazing little places that you may not think of visiting or just walk past. It... More 

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Essex UK
Top Contributor
199 reviews 199 reviews
95 attraction reviews
81 helpful votes 81 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2015

There is a theatre at St Bride's Foundation very close to the church. It often has good theatre productions both in the evening and at lunchtime, where you may eat your packed lunch. They have a special reputation for musicals. Lots of print and press connection here, too.

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Fremantle, Australia
Top Contributor
101 reviews 101 reviews
34 attraction reviews
101 helpful votes 101 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 11, 2015

As it would be, as we know it, designed by Christopher Wren but in all, 6 churches have been on the site, dating from 2000 years ago. Noted for the wondrous wedding cake spire, St Brides, the journalists church has a magnificent choir, and regular musicals during the week. It is very moving to visit the side altar and light... More 

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Nottingham, United Kingdom
11 reviews 11 reviews
3 attraction reviews
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 1, 2015

Nice church with a lot if interest for journalists and printers. The crypt is amazing and full of history. Just one of London's little treats than can be easily missed.

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Windsor, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
92 reviews 92 reviews
55 attraction reviews
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 15, 2015

This church is in central London and was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It has a fantastic steeple, beautiful interior and a crypt museum which is full of history. Well worth a look if you are in the area.

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5 reviews 5 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 3, 2015 via mobile

The church is great, unfortunately the location and photo are wrong on here. St Brides is about 200yards south east of this. The first pic isn't the right church......! It's of St Dunstans in the west. Shabby.....

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Cambridge, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
158 reviews 158 reviews
25 attraction reviews
132 helpful votes 132 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 30, 2015

I have just recently moved to work in Fleet Street - what a huge change from my old place....so many people. I work right next door to St Bride's and what a wonderful oasis of calm and tranquility and beauty on my doorstep - I visited the other day and found it inspiring and a very good place to escape... More 

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Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
6 attraction reviews
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 16, 2015 via mobile

I'd been in St Bride's before but had never been down into the Crypt. It holds a small but fascinating potted history of Fleet Street as well as Roman and Mediaeval remains of the old church. It won't detain you for more than half an hour or so, but it's a really interesting little surprise if you're in the Fleet... More 

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London, United Kingdom
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206 reviews 206 reviews
57 attraction reviews
149 helpful votes 149 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 12, 2014

Lovely church in Fleet Street. The carol service on Thursday 11th. December was superb. The new rector made everyone welcome. The choir and organist were wonderful, with beautiful singing and harmonies. Everyone including the well known actors, for their readings, are to be congratulated

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Lincoln, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
368 reviews 368 reviews
225 attraction reviews
209 helpful votes 209 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2014

This church that was designed by Christopher Wren is extremely pretty. It's unique design was the inspiration for the shape of wedding cakes. Have a look and it is obvious. The church is less crowded than St Paul's and well worth a visit.

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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 neighborhoods. 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 neighborhood is also home to some of the finest restaurants and plushest hotels in Europe, in addition to an assortment 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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