St Helen's Church, Bishopsgate

St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, is the Jewel in the City’s Crown. The churches in London are varied and beautiful, but St Helen’s managed to escape burning down in the Great Fire and the devastation wrought by the Blitz. Consequently, her vast collection of tombs, memorials and brasses seems unrivalled.

Sadly, at 9.20am, on the 10th April 1992, Irish Republican terrorists bombed the nearby financial quarter, murdering three people and causing severe damage to the church. The roof was lifted, all the glass in the windows shattered, as well as structural damage to the floors and walls. A second IRA bomb in April 1993 caused further carnage.


Thankfully, the leaders of St Helen’s could see these savage acts as opportunities to rebuild and re-order. The architect Quinlan Terry was able to make the new meeting space larger, allowing it to hold more people. The floor was raised, so a baptistry (rather than a font) could be installed beneath the pulpit, and various screens and Victorian clutter were removed, so a pure, Reformation-style view of the lectern and pulpit could be enjoyed, uninterrupted.

Though it retains its ancient grandeur, St Helen’s is now a lighter, more comfortable space in which the gospel of Christ can be proclaimed and shared, with modern heating and lighting. The IRA killers only intended harm and bloodshed, but good came of it. As Joseph admonishes his brothers in Genesis 50:20:

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. (New King James Version)

The church that survived the Great Fire and Nazi bombs, only to fall foul of the IRA, rose again from the ashes. It now has a large staff team who reach out to the wealthy district in which God has placed them.