Bill Bryson and Joanna Lumley celebrate Sir Christopher Wren’s beautiful London churches

Bill Bryson and Joanna Lumley have picked their favourite Sir Christopher Wren churches in a feature for English Tourism Week (17-25 March 2018).


Their choices are featured as part of a selection of the best of Sir Christopher Wren’s London churches published on the National Churches Trust’s ExploreChurches website for English Tourism Week.

The list on ExploreChurches makes it easy for visitors to visit some of London’s most beautiful churches and includes opening hours, locations and key architectural features to look out for at each church.

Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723), anatomist, astronomer, mathematician and physicist, was one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history. He rebuilt 52 churches in the City of London after the Great Fire in 1666.

Author Bill Bryson chose St Michael, Cornhill. He said:

“In 2003, my daughter got married in London but couldn’t use her local church (it was undergoing renovation), so we found this one in the City, and what a jewel it is. Built by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire, it is easily overlooked from without, but bright and sumptuous within. I think the vicar was grateful for the business, and the choir (who came from all over the Southeast, the City of London having almost no resident parishioners) sang like angels. It was a fabulous day.”

Actress and broadcaster Joanna Lumley chose St Bride’s, Fleet Street. She said:

“The tiny graceful spire, like a precious sea-shell, rises among the clustering modern and Victorian buildings like a dream vision. This spire was the inspiration (exactly the right word) for tiered wedding cakes the world over. It is the church of Fleet Street, the newspaper world of London. I love it.”

Other Wren churches on the list include:

  • St Paul’s Cathedral, Wren’s masterpiece, whose dome has dominated London’s skyline for over 300 years. Wren’s tomb is here, with the inscription: 'If you seek his memorial, look about you.'
  • St Stephen’s, Walbrook, Wren’s parish church, whose dome gives an unparalleled feeling of lightness and brightness. The spiritual effect depends not on rich decoration, but on pure geometry and soaring space.
  • St Mary le Bow, in the City of London, one of Wren’s first churches; a true Cockney is said to be born within earshot of its bells.

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust, said:

“Christopher Wren’s London churches are some of the most beautiful examples of church architecture in the world.”

“Churches are a vital part of London’s story. Each is an oasis in the heart of the busy city. Why not get out and discover somewhere special?”

Discover beautiful churches where you live on the National Churches Trust's ExploreChurches website