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St Bride’s Church 1St Bride’s church is situated in Fleet Street, in the heart of the City of London. The site on which it is built is believed to have been a place of worship since the time of the Romans. It is thought that seven previous churches have been built here prior to the church we can see today. The previous St Bride’s was destroyed during the Great Fire of London of 1666. After the fire, the church was so badly bamaged that it was rendered unusable. Sir Christopher Wren was engaged to design and build a new St Bride's, and work commenced in 1671. In 1674 the main structure was in place, and in 1675 St Bride’s was able to reopen for services. Although back in use, the tower had still to be completed, so in 1682, Wren was approached again regarding the steeple, but it was not until 1701 that work started again. It would take a further two years for the steeple to be completed. Standing at 234 feet, it was Wren’s highest steeple, but in 1764 it received a lightening strike, and after repaires the height had been reduced to 226 feet.

St Bride’s Church

On December 29th 1940, during the Blitz of London, St Bride’s was severely damaged after the dropping of incendiary bombs. The main church was gutted by fire, but by some miracle the tower survived. After the war St Bride’s was rebuilt, the cost of which was met by newspaper proprietors and journalists. The reason for this is that Fleet Street was at the heart of London’s printing industry, and many of the country’s top newspapers were based there, this resulted in the church becoming known as the Journalists Church. These days the printers and the newspapers themselves have moved away from the area, but the close ties that the industry shares with the church remain.

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St Bride's has long-held links with the American colonies. The parents of Virginia Dare were married here. Virginia was the first child born to English emigrants after her parents moved to North Carolina in 1585. To commemorate the event, a bust of a small child has been placed next to the font. Also the canopied oak reredos in which the alter is enshrined, was placed there is a memorial to the Pilgrim Fathers, the connection being that Edward Winslow, who was one of the leaders of the Mayflower expedition, once worked in Fleet Street and so would have known St Bride’s very well, added to the fact that his parents were also married in the church.

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In the 1950’s, due to damage received during the war, work was being carried out on the church which uncovered evidence of some of the many building phases the church has gone through over its long history. Also found were the remains of seven crypts, a medieval chapel, and two charnel houses. Some skeletal remains from the charnel houses were discovered, plus other remains of individuals that had been interred within the crypts. The crypts had been created by Wren when the church was rebuilt after the Great Fire. We know that none of the remains where any later than the 1850’s, as it was then that an Act or Parliament ordered that all church crypts should be sealed. In total the remains of 227 individuals were discovered. Some of the relics found during the excavations are on display in a small museum has been established in the crypt, which also contains an interesting display on the history of printing.