St Bride's: History

Chapter I: Intro

Stepping into 2,000 years of history. The story of St Bride's is woven into the fabric of the City of London.
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Chapter II: AD43 - 1000

The dawn of our history: a Roman house near Lud Gate. Brigid: saintly teenager & default bishop
Photo Credit: Peter Dazeley
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Chapter III: 1000 - 1500

An accident of medieval geography brings importance
Photo Credit: Paul Freeman
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Chapter IV: 1500 - 1665

Wynkyn de Worde came to St Bride's and it was time to start the presses
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Chapter V: 1665 - 1666

Plague pits, nosegays, brokers of the dead & a torrent of flame.
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Chapter VI: 1666 - 1730

'Will you rebuild our church, Mr Wren?'
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Chapter VII: 1730 - 1940

The rise and rise of the Fourth Estate
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Chapter VIII: 1940 - 1957

The night St Bride's luck ran out
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Chapter IX: 1957 - 1989

Wynkyn de Worde's revolution ends in tears
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Chapter X: 1989 - 2017

St Bride's: a church for the 21st century
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Chapter III: 1000 - 1500

Medieval chapel

The Medieval crypt: discovered in the excavations during the 1950s' rebuilding. Wren skilfully built two heavy stone arches to take the weight of the north-east wall above it to preserve it. The chapel was restored in 2002 as a memorial to the Harmsworth family and to the staff of Associated Newspapers who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars.
Photo Credit: Paul Freeman

In the early sixth century the first stone-walled church was built here, founded either by St Bride in person or by Celtic monks who had formed a community in London. It was rebuilt many times over the following centuries, with notable structures including those of the Middle Saxons and the Normans.

This period in history was characterised by the urbanisation of Europe, military expansion, and intellectual revival, aided by the conversion of the raiding Scandinavians to Christianity. The 11th, 12th and 13th centuries saw a large increase in London's population - from less than 15,000 to over 80,000.

By the year 1200 Britain's effective capital city was Westminster, then a small town up-river from the City of London, where the royal treasury and financial records were stored.

St Bride's was the first church encountered between London and Westminster. This accident of geography gave it considerable importance; in 1205, the Curia Regis, a council of landowners and ecclesiastics charged with providing legislative advice to King John, and a predecessor to today's parliament, was held in the church. St Bride's influence and its numbers of parishioners grew substantially during the medieval period. From the 13th century onwards London developed through two different seats of power and influence: Westminster became the royal capital and centre of government, while the City of London became the centre of commerce and trade - a distinction evident to this day.

The area between them eventually became entirely urbanised by the end of the 16th century, and it was at the beginning of that century that St Bride's developed its first links with one of the future cornerstones of British society which were to constitute its most enduring claim to fame.