St. Stephen Walbrook (London)
St. Stephen Walbrook is one of the many fascinating churches in the City of London.
It is situated close to the Mansion House in the street called Walbrook, built on the line of the now subterranean River Walbrook.
The original church was built beside the river during the Saxon period, probably around the 8th century, and was given to St. John`s Abbey at Colchester in 1096. It was rebuilt around 1430.
After the Great Fire of London in 1666, St. Stephen`s was rebuilt by Christopher Wren between 1672 and 1680, and it is widely regarded as his finest London church after St. Pauls Cathedrall.
The wonderful dome was the first in any English church, and the interior is in the shape of a cube. The sculptor Antonio Canova expressed a desire to visit London specifically to see St. Paul`s, Somerset House and St. Stephen`s.
The church was damaged during the Blitz, and restored by Godfrey Allen in 1951 to 1951, then again in the 1980s. It is from this period that the striking altar dates. It is a large ten ton stone created by Henry Moore.
John Vanbrugh, playwright and architect, was buried at St. Stephen`s.
The Rector Chad Varah was greatly affected by the suicide of a teenage girl in 1952, and set up a telephone helpline where worried people could talk in confidence about their problems. This grew into the hugely beneficial Samaritans organisation.