St Stephen Walbrook
St Stephen Walbrook was built on the west bank of the Walbrook river on a site originally occupied by a Roman temple. The river played an important role in the settlement of the Romans, being a crucial trade route. However, over the centuries it has become covered and now runs entirely underground.
Today the essence of the river is echoed in the Bloomsberg and the Walbrook buildings, both designed by Fosters and Partners. The Bloomsberg building is designed to be respectful of its historical neighbours and uses stonework which blends with St Stephen Walbrook’s.
St Stephen Walbrook is the most complex and elaborate of Wren’s City of London churches. The church was completed in 1680 however the spire, which consists of columns and square urns, wasn’t added to the church until around 1715.
The most important feature of the church is its dome, which was the prototype for St Paul’s Cathedral. Wren designed the dome to let in natural light; inside the church it is very light and airy. St Stephen Walbrook’s dome was the first classical dome to be built in England.
St Margaret Pattens
St Margaret Pattens (1684) is a plain but well proportioned geometric stone church sitting on Rood Street, a small lane to the left side of 20 Fenchurch Street.
The area directly around St Margaret Pattens has undergone significant regeneration. To the left of the church is Plantation Place, a large modern geometric structure which is materially sympathetic to the church. The façade of the building incorporates stonework similar in colour to that of the church, hiding a vast glass structure behind it.
The church lies in the shadow of the vast irregular postmodern building nicknamed the “Walkie Talkie”. On first sight the building has little in common with the church – it is a mass of reflective glass and steel – but its grid structure seems to reference that of Plantation Place, thus creating a sequence between the three buildings.
A second theme emerges between these three buildings. They are purposeful rather than ornate. The church is rather plain and one notices that the area surrounding is minimalist. Although, the church does have one rather redeeming feature; its spire.
The spire of St Margaret Pattens is unique, the only gothic spire that Wren designed for his City of London churches. Sheathed in lead the spire was once the third highest in the City, reaching up 69 metres. Today the church is dwarfed by 20 Fenchurch Street which exceeds its height by 91 metres.
St Lawrence Jewry
St Lawrence Jewry Next Guildhall is the only church in the City of London to be situated next to a building which pre-dates it. Part of the Guildhall (the Great Hall) dates back to 1440 and is the oldest non-ecclestiastical stone building to have survived to the present day.
The grand entrance to the Guildhall was built in 1788 by George Dance in the Hindoostani Gothic style, hiding most of the 15th century Great Hall behind. The Gothic turrets are however still visible from the Guildhall Yard.
The West Wing of the Guildhall Yard, directly next to the church was destroyed during the Blitz. It current building was designed by Giles Scott Senior and completed by his son in1974 after his death. The brutalist architecture references shapes and forms from the Guildhall’s Hindoostani Gothic style façade.
On the East Wing sits a more recent building, by Giles Scott Junior, completed in 1999. Interestingly this building, although with a modern feel, is far more sympathetic to its historical neighbours. It also conceals a basement of historic treasures; the ruins of a Roman Amphitheatre.
From the front, St Lawrence Jewry is an uninspiring church with a centralised tower. However the alter side of the church is quite ornate with Corinthian columns similar to those Wren later incorporated on the front of St Paul’s Cathedral. This wall consists of simple geometric shapes – circles, squares and triangles – as well as being perfectly symmetrical.