St Ethelburga's Bishopsgate
|St Ethelburga's Bishopsgate|
Current church building
|Denomination||Church of England|
In 1993 an IRA bomb severely damaged the church and once the building was rebuilt and restored it re-opened as a Centre for Reconciliation and Peace.
This structure is a rare survival of the medieval City churches that were mostly destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666. It is dedicated to St Ethelburga, a 7th-century abbess of Barking; she was the sister of Saint Erkenwald, a Bishop of London. Its foundation date is unknown, but it was first recorded in 1250 as the church of St Adelburga-the-Virgin. The dedication to "-the-Virgin" was dropped in Puritan times but was later restored.
The church was rebuilt in the 15th century – possibly around 1411 – and a small square bell turret was added in 1775. In order to raise revenue for the church, whose parish covered just three acres (12,000 m²), a wooden porch was built over its exterior in the 16th century to house two shops. It underwent major changes in 1932, when Bishopsgate was controversially widened. The shops were demolished and the porch dismantled, revealing the façade of the church for the first time in centuries.
It suffered modest bomb damage during the Blitz of the Second World War and was restored in 1953. In 1993, the church was half destroyed when a massive IRA bomb exploded nearby, devastating Bishopsgate and causing an estimated £350 million worth of damage. An evangelical faction of the Church of England proposed to demolish St Ethelburga's in the aftermath but, following a sustained public outcry, it was rebuilt to its original plan, though much changed internally.
The church's tiny interior comprises a nave and aisle divided by an arcade. Most of the original fittings were destroyed by the 1993 bombing  although they were, for the most part, not particularly historic as they dated from the early 20th century, being the work of Ninian Comper. One of the more notable survivals is the curious 19th century font, which is inscribed with one of the longest known palindromes, written in Greek: NIΨON ANOMHMATA MH MONAN OΨIN, which translates as "Cleanse [your] transgressions, not only [your] face".
Centre for Reconciliation and Peace
St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace is a non-profit charity which aims to build relationships across divisions of conflict, culture and religion. Its expertise is in bringing people together in new ways, creating safe space for transformative conversations and collaborative enquiry, increasing understanding, and inspiring people to take action in their own communities. The centre focuses on the values of listening, reflection, honouring diversity, self-responsibility, and choosing non-violence.
Over 8,000 people a year participate in the dialogue programmes and training workshops run by the centre. Its current work includes: a multi-faith conflict resilience programme (faith leaders working together to become more intelligent in their responses to conflict); community reconciliation (building a coalition for peace within with the North and South Sudanese diaspora in London); the Narrative Practitioners Forum (promoting the use of narrative and personal story for building empathy between people with different backgrounds); Re-imagining the Sacred (a secular and spiritual multi-disciplinary enquiry into bringing a deeper sense of meaning into economics, earth, environment, education, food etc.); an MA in reconciliation at Winchester University; and several strands of cultural exchange work mentoring young adults into social action leadership roles.
It also runs a certificated three day course in conflict coaching aimed at anyone dealing with workplace or personal conflict. The course which is running in February and June 2014, attracted participants from the fields of coaching, counselling, law, mediation, inter-faith work and others during 2013.
Notable people associated with the church
- Blessed John Larke, Rector (1504-1544) who was martyred for denying the royal supremacy in matters spiritual,
- Henry Hudson, explorer, took communion with his crew before setting out in search of the Northwest Passage, 1607
- John Medows Rodwell, Rector (1843–1900) who made the first reliable rendering of the Qur'an into English (1861)
- Dr W F Geikie-Cobb, Rector (1900-1941) who achieved notoriety by marrying many divorced persons in the church.
- Sandler, Corey (2007), Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession, Citadel Press, ISBN 978-0-8065-2739-0
- "The Old Churches of London" Cobb,G: London, Batsford, 1942
- "The Visitors Guide to the City of London Churches" Tucker,T: London, Friends of the City Churches, 2006 ISBN 0-9553945-0-3
- "The London Encyclopaedia" Hibbert,C;Weinreb,D;Keay,J: London, Pan Macmillan, 1983 (rev 1993,2008) ISBN 978-1-4050-4924-5
- "London:the City Churches” Pevsner,N/Bradley,S New Haven, Yale, 1998 ISBN 0-300-09655-0
- English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (199317)". Images of England. accessed 23 January 2009