Fire in the City

Earlier this month Professor Elizabeth McKellar delivered our annual Wren Talk entitled “1666 and all that” exploring the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire.

However, there was a Second Great Fire of London that raged across the capital on the night of 29th December 1940 destroying thirteen Wren churches including St Bride’s.

Fire in the City: Artists in the Blitz is a series of pop-up displays in a selection of City churches curated by the museum team of The London Fire Brigade to mark the 300th anniversary of the death of Sir Christopher Wren. The displays feature paintings by firefighter artists along with contemporary photographs.

St Bride’s is delighted to be taking part in the project.

The church was rebuilt after the war, arising from the ashes of the Second Great Fire of London. Excavations led to the discovery of Roman remains and a large collection of complete skeletons which have proved an invaluable academic resource.

Downstairs in the Crypt – nestled in our own permanent exhibition about those post-war discoveries – is the Fire in the City display.

It features a collection of prints of paintings by Auxiliary Fireman, Paul Lucien Dessau, exploring the psychological experience of the Blitz, each depicting the fire and smoke in monstrous form.

Dessau was born in 1909 and worked as a commercial artist before he signed up for the Auxiliary Fire Service. He was a founder member of the Firemen Artists Organising Committee which held an exhibition of over 100 paintings in 1941. Dessau was discharged on medical grounds in 1944; his condition worsened by inhaling smoke and chemicals from the fires.

The exhibition runs until the end of November.

Entry to St Bride’s and the Crypt is free. Click here to check our opening hours and for directions to the church.

Menace No 1: Overture by Paul Dessau

Posted On: Friday 27th October, 2023

congregation sitting for service


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