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.
Read on...

Chapter II: AD43 - 1000

The dawn of our history: a Roman house near Lud Gate. Brigid: saintly teenager & default bishop
Photo Credit: Peter Dazeley
Read on...

Chapter III: 1000 - 1500

An accident of medieval geography brings importance
Photo Credit: Paul Freeman
Read on...

Chapter IV: 1500 - 1665

Wynkyn de Worde came to St Bride's and it was time to start the presses
Read on...

Chapter V: 1665 - 1666

Plague pits, nosegays, brokers of the dead & a torrent of flame.
Read on...

Chapter VI: 1666 - 1730

'Will you rebuild our church, Mr Wren?'
Read on...

Chapter VII: 1730 - 1940

The rise and rise of the Fourth Estate
Read on...

Chapter VIII: 1940 - 1957

The night St Bride's luck ran out
Read on...

Chapter IX: 1957 - 1989

Wynkyn de Worde's revolution ends in tears
Read on...

Chapter X: 1989 - 2017

St Bride's: a church for the 21st century
Read on...

Chapter X: 1989 - 2017

Fortunately for St Bride's, the national newspapers scattered in every direction rather than congregating in one locality, so that "Fleet Street" remains to this day a generic term for the nation's press, and the church retains its pre-eminent position in the journalistic and media constituency.

During the Middle East hostage crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s, it hosted all-night vigils for John McCarthy and others, and on their release in 1991 a grand service of celebration was held.

We have commemorated John Schofield, BBC reporter killed in Croatia in 1995; Reuters' Kerem Lawton, killed in Kosovo; Channel 4's Gaby Rado and ITN's Terry Lloyd (Iraq); BBC cameraman Simon Cumbers, murdered by Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia; and the Wall Street Journal's Daniel Pearl, murdered by Al Qaeda in Pakistan in 2002.

In 2003 we unveiled a memorial to all journalists who died in Iraq, and in 2006 commemorated James Brolan and Paul Douglas, CBS journalists killed in Baghdad, demonstrating St Bride's unique position in journalism throughout the world. When, earlier this year, The Times' driver in Iraq, Yasser, was killed in a bomb blast in Baghdad, it was to St Bride's that senior News International staff came to light a candle.

The Journalists' Altar in the North East corner also carries prayers for reporters who are missing or who have lost their lives in current conflicts.

Newspaper proprietors such as Lord Burnham, Lord Rothermere and Lord Hartwell have been remembered in memorial services. So have editors like Sir Edward Pickering, David Astor, Stewart Steven and Louis Kirby; the Guardian's famed woman's editor Mary Stott; the D-Day war reporter Doon Campbell; BBC figures such as Godfrey Talbot, Louis MacMillan and Leonard Miall; and Fiona MacPherson of Good Housekeeping magazine.

Strong and successful efforts were made by the former Rector, Canon John Oates, to bring into the church's embrace the new occupants of the now-silent newspaper offices - chiefly lawyers, accountants and investment bankers. Twenty years after the last newspaper left, the large number of memorials and carol services we hold every year are evenly split between the "old" and the "new" Fleet Street.

The church today has a light, open feel of symmetry; the floor is paved with black marble from Belgium and white from Italy. This is very much a living church in a modern world.

As a result of a successful funding appeal, new side aisles constructed of English and European oak were installed in 2004, offering significantly better views for large congregations while preserving the beautiful character of the church.

Out of the inferno of that hellish night in December 1940 has emerged something beautiful, which remains the spiritual heart both of the parish of St Bride's and of the journalistic community in Britain and throughout the world.

The church retains strong City links, has built up an enviable musical reputation, and is home to thriving Sunday congregations, as well as being a major tourist landmark. Set back from Fleet Street, only yards from the tremendous bustle of Ludgate Circus, yet seemingly existing in its own peaceful space, St Bride's is one of the most historic, vibrant and beautiful churches to be found anywhere in London.