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St Bride's is a busy, inclusive and thriving parish church in the centre of the City of London; an inspiring space in which the beauty of its architecture, the power of the liturgy and the weight of history all meet and enrich each other. The Church of St Bride is justly world famous. To enter its doors is to step into 2,000 years of history, which had begun with the Romans some six centuries before the name of St Bride, daughter of an Irish prince, even emerged from legend to become associated forever with the site.
The story of St Bride's is inextricably woven into the history of the City of London. By the time the Great Fire of 1666 left the church in ruins, a succession of churches had existed on the site for about a millennium, and the area had already assumed its unique role in the emergence of English printing. It took nine years for St Bride's to re-appear from the ashes under the inspired direction of Christopher Wren, but for the next two-and-a-half centuries it was in the shadow of the church's unmistakeable wedding-cake spire that the rise of the British newspaper industry into the immensely powerful Fourth Estate took place.
Then, in 1940, St Bride's fell victim once again to flames as German incendiary bombs reduced Wren's architectural jewel to a roofless shell, although, miraculously, the spire survived. This time 17 years elapsed before rebuilding was completed, although a series of important excavations in 1953 amid the skeletal ruins, led by the medieval archaeologist Professor W. F. Grimes, came up with extraordinary results, uncovering the foundations of all six previous churches on the site.
On 19th December 1957, on the anniversary of Wren's church being opened for worship 282 years previously, St Bride's was rededicated in the presence of the Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Strong and successful efforts have been made by the two most recent Rectors to bring into the church's embrace the new occupants of the now-silent newspaper offices - chiefly lawyers, accountants and investment bankers - whilst guiding the spiritual journey of the congregation. Twenty-five 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 endowment appeal, new side aisle seating, constructed of English and European oak, was 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.