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St Bride's

#300 of 1,272 things to do in London
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Address: Fleet Street, London EC4Y 8AU, England
Phone Number: +44 20 7427 0133
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8:30 am - 6:30 pm
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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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Very interesting church, amazing crypt.

St Bride's is tucked away down an alley off Fleet Street. It is the journalists church and there are many plaques giving details of those who are no longer with us. The church has... read more

4 of 5 starsReviewed August 11, 2015
Alan S
Tibshelf, United Kingdom

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Tibshelf, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
113 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2015

St Bride's is tucked away down an alley off Fleet Street. It is the journalists church and there are many plaques giving details of those who are no longer with us. The church has an absolutely beautiful interior and it is well worth taking the effort to search it out. The crypt is extremely interesting with parts of it dating... More 

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United Kingdom
Level Contributor
98 reviews
52 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2015

Our tour guide explained that this church is also known as the "wedding cake church." Apparently there is a story that a baker from times long past was in the middle of creating a wedding cake and gazed out the window for inspiration. Upon seeing St. Bride's, the tiers in the church inspired him to make tiers in the wedding... More 

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Shrewsbury, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
26 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 8, 2015

Rebuilt after being extensively bombed in 1940, this is one of London's oldest churches. It was redesigned after the GFoL by Sir Christopher Wren. We paid £6 to go on the guided tour and it was extremely fascinating. Our guide was most knowledgable and told us lots about the history of the church. The best part was visiting the crypt.... More 

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Edinburgh, United Kingdom
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388 reviews
206 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2015

The Church is great to look at from the outside. You should also go in to escape from the hustle and bustle of London to relax (and pray if you want). The interior is impressive too and when I was there there was a piano recital which made the visit even better.

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Torquay, United Kingdom
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99 reviews
44 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 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
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226 reviews
111 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 97 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
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112 reviews
36 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 106 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
Level Contributor
13 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 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
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118 reviews
73 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 59 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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Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
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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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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