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/ 3 August 2016

Rise like a Phoenix. Churches after the Great Fire

The Ceiling of St Mary Aldermary

If you are an avid reader of the Londonist you’ll know that this online magazine is more than just a site for Underground enthusiasts or an eclectic list of quirky coffee shops. This great magazine has news, reviews, history and events that rival other London guides. So it is timely, exactly one month before the 350th Anniversary of the Great Fire of London, that the website reviews a new book of the city churches, which rose like a phoenix after the devastating conflagration of 1666.

The losses after the Great Fire included St Paul’s Cathedral and eighty-seven parish churches, with at least thirteen thousand houses. The diarist Samuel Pepys declared “Oh the miserable and calamitous spectacle!” after so much destruction had been levelled on the city. The blank canvas that was left by the fire meant that new creations could be built, and while the street patterns stayed much the same after the fire, many of the churches took on new designs by the architects Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke, Nicholas Hawksmoor and James Gibbs.

The article uses many of the high-resolution images which can be found in this stunning new book and highlights the hard to view details which are so often overlooked when we pound the busy streets of London below. Examples include the dragon weather vane on top of St Mary-le-Bow, with the red cross of the City of London on its belly; or the exquisite interior ceilings of St Mary-le-Strand and the ornate St Mary Aldermary.

The article can be found on the Londonist or the book, After the Fire: London Churches in the Age of Wren, Hooke, Hawksmoor and Gibbs by Angelo Hornak, with a foreword by the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, Rector of St Michael on Cornhill is available from Pimpernel Press Ltd and can be ordered online.

Around the 350th Anniversary of the Great Fire of London, on 2nd September, there are a number of events happening in city churches including, a new opera, And London Burned at Temple Church; a day of events at St Andrew by the Wardrobe, and the City Churches celebration at St Mary at Hill, with a procession to the Monument. Follow our events page for more information and see the twitter hashtag #GreatFire.


About Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall was the diocesan Communications Assistant, before going on to become a Franciscan Friar with the Society of St Francis. Matthew seeks to protect the environment. He adores hiking and being outdoor in the country or by the sea in nearly all weather. He dreams of hiking to Rome and Jerusalem.

Read more from Matthew Hall

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