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“Journalists church-- no everybodys' church”
Review of St Bride's

St Bride's
Ranked #380 of 1,651 things to do in London
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: 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
London, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
72 reviews
65 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Journalists church-- no everybodys' church”
Reviewed September 4, 2012

A little gem just off of Fleet Street, this church is beautiful inside and out. Now that they have unearthed the Roman ruins under the church, you can add to your visit by going down into the crypt which has been extemely weel thought out and laid out. The person in attendance was charming and very friendly and knowledgeable. Don't miss the chance to see this little gem.

Visited September 2012
2 Thank Dunklaymin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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78 reviews from our community

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English first
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“St Bride's....an absolute gem”
Reviewed May 4, 2012 via mobile

Like St Paul's this is a Christopher Wren church. It's had a turbulent history over the years and is worth a visit to see it's history beautifully told in photographic form in the crypt museum. The crypt is well lit and not creepy like some old churches. The exposed Roman Road is particularly interesting. The staff member was friendly and helpful. She went out of her way to greet everyone and find out their history. When I emerged from the crypt I was greeted by a couple who were also from Australia as she had pointed me out to them! this is in the heart of Fleet Street, the old press area so many of the pews have the names of newspapers or old media heavy weights on them. I only spent 10 minutes there but it was thoroughly enjoyable.

1 Thank cmchi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Richmond-upon-Thames, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
845 reviews
395 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 368 helpful votes
“A stunning Wren church with a remarkable exhibiton of the building and its surroundings in the crypt”
Reviewed February 17, 2012

St Bride's Church is just off Fleet Street by Ludgate Circus.There has been a church on the site since Saxon times and there are Roman remains in the crypt, where there is a free exhibition of remains dating back to the second century and a very clear explanation of the history and development of the church.

This used to be the area where printing developed in London and the exhibition deals very well with the rise and fall of printing and then newspapers in the area..

The present church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and the spire was completed in 1703. In the 18th century,the spire was used as a model for the first traditional wedding cake,with tiers, that made by a baker on Ludgate Hill.

The church was largely destroyed in an air raid in 1940 and the present church was rebuilt up to 1957 based on the original Wren design.

Visited February 2012
Thank SergeLourie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
124 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
“A Christopher Wren jewel, beautifully restored, built on the ruins of more ancient churches”
Reviewed January 8, 2012

I had planned to visit because my great-great-grandparents were married here--other than that, I knew little about it beforehand. For the last year or so, the church guild members have been offering guided tours of the building and the museum below it (note--you can visit for free, donations are welcome. The guided tour was 5 pounds when we were there, and worth it). The building was almost totally destroyed by two bombs in the early years of WWII--only the walls and landmark steeple remained standing--and when renovations began some 17 years later, the remains of several much older churches were found in the crypt, eand vidence of a Roman Christian burial. Christopher Wren's original drawings were consulted extensively during the renovations. A hidden gem.

Visited September 2011
Thank BluesInTO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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