A Wren church next door to the Mansion House
Sir Christopher Wren’s 17 th century masterpiece, the small church of St.Stephen Walbrook, is the parish church for the Mayor of London. In more recent times, the Samaritans, an organisation offering support and help to those suffering from depression or at risk of suicide, was founded at St Stephen in 1953.
Sir John Sommerson described the church of St Stephen as “the pride of English architecture, and one of the few City churches in which the genius of Wren shines in full splendour”, Nikolaus Pevsner thought it one of the ten most important buildings in England. The Building was, in effect a series of experiments for the ideas Wren had for the rebuilding of St Paul’s Cathedral. The dome was very unusual in English ecclesiastical architecture at the time.
As the building materials were lighter then those used in the much larger St Paul’s , the sense of light and space inside St Stephen Walbook is wonderful. The location is an extremely hectic one-the Mansion House, the Bank of England, and the City of London Magistates’ Court are all within sight from Walbrook. And yet, stepping inside the church, there is a simple oasis of calm and beauty.
Yates Associates worked alongside George Sexton from Washington DC on the specialist lighting and design of electrical services. The dome, which was said to be a model for St Pauls, was lit with tungsten-halogen floods that were placed equidistant on the lower ledge of the dome. All of the lighting was scene set and controlled from the pulpit.