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St Bride's Fleet Street
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Few churches anywhere can have had so remarkable a roll-call of literary and artistic parishioners as St Bride's, and as Fleet Street was until lately the home of national newspapers, the church was the industry's parish church.

St Bride's Fleet Street

The figures of St Bride and St Paul by David McFall stand on the screens at the west end of the nave. The coat of arms of Queen Elizabeth II may be seen on the wall behind.

St Bride's was Wren's second most costly church after St Mary-le-Bow. It was rebuilt in 1671-8 after the Great Fire, and the famous 'wedding-cake steeple' was added in 1701-3. Among the tallest of Wren's steeples, it rises to 69 metres (226 feet). A local cook, William Rich, modelled his wedding cakes on the steeple, giving rise to its familiar label. The church was restored by W. Godfrey Allen in 1955-7 after the bombing of 1940. The new interior is a worthy Classical design, but it differs considerably from a normal Wren church. The seating is arranged in collegiate style and is all lightly stained, with wide, uncluttered aisles. Wren divided the interior into five bays with paired Tuscan columns, which support block entablatures and coffered arches. Substantial open screens stand in front of the arcades and form the background to the collegiate seating. The nave is barrel-vaulted, with deep splays formed by the oval clerestory windows. The nave focuses on a remarkable reredos, which stands away from the east end and is tall enough to hide all but the top of the east window. Pairs of Corinthian columns support a segmental pediment surmounted by flambeaux. The reredos incorporates an oval stained-glass panel of Christ in glory, by Glyn Jones. Jones also painted the east end behind the reredos in trompe I'oeil to suggest an apse. Two charity schoolchildren from the early 18th century stand in the south-west corner. Near them is the font, with a diminutive post-war cover based on Wren's first design for the steeple.

St Bride's Fleet Street

The worthy post-war interior by W. Godfrey Allen focuses on the substantial Classical reredos.

Before W. Godfrey Allen rebuilt the church, Professor W. F. Grimes excavated the ruins. He found the remains of a series of churches going back to a pre-Conquest building of unknown date. There has been speculation that it goes back to the 6th century and was named at once after St Bridget of Kildare, who lived at that time, but such a dedication at so early a date is improbable. The walls found in the excavations, together with a good display on the history of the parish, may be seen in the crypt.

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