In 1891, St Bride Foundation was established to provide a social, cultural and recreational centre for London's Fleet Street and its burgeoning print and publishing trade. Now, this historic site is a living and breathing community once again, with new projects, facilities and programmes expanding its central mission: to excite and inspire.
At the heart of the Foundation is an unparalleled library of print, media, communications and design, believed to be the largest in the world – but its remit is becoming even more broad and exciting. With a renewed educational programme, a vibrant fringe theatre and a wide gamut of seminars and events, St Bride Foundation is reaffirming its status as a major London hub for the creative arts.
The Foundation has always prided itself on providing a service for local people and charities.
Many of its historic rooms are available to the public to use, including the impressive Bridewell Hall, which hosts a wide variety of events on a regular basis, and the stately Salisbury Room, in demand as a board room, but also for fine dining, receptions, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies.
Although the Printing School moved to the south of the River Thames many years ago, much of the original equipment remains on site and is now being used once more, bringing printing instruction back to Fleet Street.
The St Bride Library is generally acknowledged to be a world-class resource, with extensive collections relating to printing, typography and graphic design with visitors from across the globe delving into the archives.
From classics to contemporary, the Bridewell Theatre offers evening programmes with something to suit all tastes. Hosting shows by both up-and-coming amateur troupes and experienced professional theatre companies,
St Bride Foundation sees a wide variety of performances and performers, from magic shows to pantomime and musical to ballet. Its popular Lunchbox Theatre entertains the local community with 45-minute renditions suited perfectly to the business luncheon hour.
Situated next to our theatre is the Bridewell Bar, serving drinks into the small hours and hosting various music and networking events throughout the year, as well as being home to a gallery featuring artists and photographers.
“Here is to be found a vast and varied collection of books on the practice of the many crafts that contribute to the complete production of the printed volume, some of which are not to be found in the British Museum, nor in the great public libraries of Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Dublin and the new Welsh National Library."
The Foundation is a remarkable survivor. Situated at its original site behind the St Bride Church at the bottom of Fleet Street, St Bride retains many of the original features from its construction in the 1890s. Created as an educational institute and social centre, today it still acts as an event space, a youth and adult theatre and an educational outreach centre, while also being home to the only library in the UK entirely devoted to the history of printing and allied crafts.
Born from a project by St Bride's Parochial Charities to support a community with printing and publishing as its major industry, the Foundation's original purpose was to build and maintain an institute for the benefit of all who lived and worked in the western part of the City, with particular reference to the needs of the parish.
Part of the Foundation's original objectives was the building and maintenance of an institute "containing baths, a laundry, a library, reading rooms and such other rooms and offices as may be suitable for the printing school", as well as providing educational and moral training to boys and girls of 'the poorer classes' and ensuring the provision of lectures, exhibitions and a meeting place for societies and committees.
With the death of William Blades, Victorian printer and expert on Caxton and early printing, St Bride had the opportunity to acquire a private library devoted to the history of print, containing exceptionally rare books on the subject. The collection was given its own purpose-built, fireproof room, in which it still rests to this day, as part of St Bride's extensive library of print-related technical and academic works.
Board of Governors of the St Bride Foundation Trust Company Limited
N J Barker OBE, Rev G W Craig, C De Pury , T Fenwick , Rev’d Cannon Dr Alison Joyce, I Locks, P W Silver (Chairman), J Wright, P Barnes and A Swatridge, Helen Hunsperger, Diane Hutchison
“What gunpowder did for war the printing press has done for the mind.”
St Bride Foundation was built more than 100 years ago to server Fleet Street’s burgeoning print community.
Now, it needs your help to preserve its extensive library and unrivalled collection of artefacts, publications, typefaces and a dating back to the very origins of the printing industry.FIND OUT MORE
Unique weddings and civil partnership
services at the St Bride foundation