London Unveiled

great places to visit off the beaten path.

St. Stephen Walbrook ~ a Christopher Wren church of significance.

By the second century A.D., the Roman Temple of Mithras stood here on the banks of a steam.  A Saxon church was built on the foundations to convert this heathen site to hallowed ground.  By 1428 the Walbrook was now a road and the church was rebuilt 20 meters east on a larger plot of ground.  The new church was one of a hundred inside the city’s square mile. In 1666 the church burnt down in the Great Fire.

As Royal Surveyor, Christopher Wren was assigned to the rebuilding of many churches.  While he and his staff began construction on many churches in 1670 and 1671, the construction of only one church was begun in 1672 – St. Stephen Walbrook.  While speculation exists as to why, it is likely that because this was Christopher Wren’s own parish church, his personal attention was given to its design and construction.  He lived at No. 15 Walbrook at the time.  The church was generally completed by 1679, though the steeple was not finished until 1717.

The church is considered by many a masterpiece, one of the 10 finest buildings in all of England and perhaps the only building in which Wren was able to fully showcase his talents and vision.  The church is rectangular in design, with a dome and attached tower.  The support structure of the dome and the interior design make it arguably Wren’s finest church interior.

In 1953, a vicar at St. Stephen Walbrook began a mission that would grow into an international organization called Samaritans. The church displays a telephone in a glass box, commemorating the 24-hour phone line always open to people in distress or at risk of suicide. Keeping up with the times, the organization now also offers support via email and text messaging.

Located at: 39 Walbrook, London EC4N 8BN

Nearest Tube: Bank

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This entry was posted on June 25, 2012 by in Churches, City of London and tagged , .
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