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Work has begun restoring the iconic Grade I listed spire of St Bride's Church in Fleet Street, London - the inspiration for the tiered wedding cake - but a further £350,000 is needed to complete the first phase of work before next winter.
The funds are desperately needed to secure the spire and prevent further falling masonry, which is causing danger to passers-by. If left to deteriorate further the Church, which is visited seven days a week by an active congregation of residents, local business people and visitors from around the world, could even have to close.
The INSPIRE! Appeal was launched in March 2012 and has so far raised in excess of £700,000 of the overall minimum total of £2.5 million. St Bride's which is one of Sir Christopher Wren's masterpieces is frequently referred to as the 'journalists' Church' and retains strong links with the media industry despite the wholesale move by the press out of Fleet Street.
Restoration will be undertaken by Bakers of Danbury, who are specialists in Grade I listed buildings and have extensive experience working on the buildings of Sir Christopher Wren, including St Paul's Cathedral (for which they won an RIBA Award in 2012) and St Magnus Martyr.
The Venerable David Meara, Archdeacon of London and Rector of St Bride's, said:
"We are very excited that the first phase of work is now underway to restore Wren's vision to a condition that he would recognise when it was first built. The 20th century has not been kind, but thanks to friends near and far we are able to start work to secure the building for another 150 years. However we are still a long way from reaching our target."
John Smith, Architect in Residence at St Bride's said:
"St Bride's, the tallest church that Wren built, has stood firm for centuries. As well as securing the building this phase of works is a wonderful opportunity to expand our knowledge of Britain's greatest architect, but if restoration is not completed soon the continued erosion will mean Wren's original vision will be lost forever."