The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 19 From Charing Cross To St Paul's Cathedral

St Bride's

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A little way beyond Whitefriars St. is the short St. Bride's Avenue, leading to the church of St. Bride (i.e. Bridget), rebuilt by Wren in 1680 et seq., and a good example of his work. The spire (1701), called by Henley �a madrigal in stone,� was originally 234 feet high but was struck by lightning in 1764; 85 feet of the masonry was taken down and rebuilt, but the uppermost 8 feet was not replaced and is now at Park Place, Henley. This is still the tallest of Wren's steeples. The otherwise admirable INTERIOR (open 11-3 daily, except Saturday) is marred by the clumsy way in which the galleries break the height of the pillars. It contains the flat tombstone (central aisle) of Samuel Richardson (1880-1761), author of �Clarissa Harlowe,� who carried on his business as printer in the adjacent Salisbury Square (No. 11; now demolished). Thomas Weelkes (died 1623), the composer, is commemorated by a modern tablet (1924). The old church, of which the elegant font (1615) is a relic, was the burial-place of Lovelace (1653), Thomas Sackville (died 1608), the poet, and Wynkyn de Worde, printer of the �Boke of St. Albans� (1496; died circa 1535). The registers include entries of the baptism of Samuel Pepys (1633) and the death of Richardson (1761). The sculptured entrance to Mr. Holden's vault (to the right on entering from St. Bride's Passage) is another survival of the fire of 1666. The next cross-street to the right, Bride Lane, passes St. Bride's Church and leads into New Bridge St. It contains (right) the St. Bride Foundation Institute, opened in 1894, with a general and technical library, lecture and class rooms for printers and others, and a swimming bath. Opposite are the St. Bride's and Bridewell Precinct Schools, founded in 1711, with figures of a boy and girl in 18th century costume. To the south of St. Bride's Lane is Bridewell Place, the name of which commemorates the old prison of Bridewell. Fleet St. ends at Ludgate Circus, formed by its junction with St. Bride St., Farringdon St., Ludgate Hill, and New Bridge St. The Obelisks in the middle of the circus commemorate Robert Waithman (died 1833), a meritorious Lord Mayor (to the north), and John Wilkes (1727-97), the famous Radical (to the south). The view of St. Paul's from the circus is spoiled by the railway viaduct.