Appeal for St Bride's Salvation
Boasting the tallest spire of all of London’s magnificent Wren Churches, whose tiered splendour inspired the popular wedding cake design, fame alone is not enough to stop St Bride’s church in Fleet Street from crumbling.
Netting has now been placed around the grade I-listed church, built in the 1670s, to catch the chunks of stone that frequently fall from the roof, threatening the safety of passers-by, worshippers and hundreds of tourists that visit every week. However, if £2.5m is not raised to repair these problems — caused by weather damage, and vibrations from nearby traffic and building works — the church faces closure at the end of the year.
The Inspire appeal to raise the necessary funds launches on 21 March. It kicks off with a lecture on Sir Christopher Wren by writer and architectural historian Adrian Tinniswood.
An unnamed US property fund is in talks with the fundraising committee, and has designs to set up a centre celebrating all London’s Wren Churches in St Bride’s crypt.
It would be the only place in London to offer information on all 55 of his City churches. Not all of them have survived but, along with St Paul’s Cathedral, they form an essential part of Wren’s architectural legacy.
“Wherever the money comes from, we’ll be very grateful,” says Paul Finch, deputy chairman of the Design Council and chairman of the St Bride’s restoration committee.
Finch noted that obtaining a public grant for restoration projects was “quite tough” in the current climate. However, he voiced concern
that “conserving such a heavily listed building is not regarded as virtuous in and of itself”.
St Bride’s has survived catastrophe in the past. During the Blitz, German bombs destroyed the roof and the original interior. Although its distinctive tower survived, the heat from the flames below was enough to melt its bells, which have never been replaced.