Why are wedding cakes usually all quite similar? Layer-upon-layer of round cakes, each one smaller than the previous, stacked on top of each other, and covered with marzipan, icing and creative decorations.
And, often, at the top of the culinary extravaganza, a bridal couple.
Very similar to the spire of an English church.
Exactly! Indeed one of the most celebrated of all the houses of worship in London.
Ironically, that church is named St Bride’s even though it does not owe its name to a bride.
It’s a stone’s throw from the former home of England’s newspapers, Fleet Street, at the foot of Ludgate Hill, a London landmark topped by the famous St Paul’s Cathedral.
It honours St Bridgid of Kildare, one of the patron saints of Ireland.
It was one of many designed by celebrated architect Sir Christopher Wren after the previous church on the site was destroyed by the Great Fire of London – just as Wren created St Paul’s which was destroyed in the same conflagration.
With its 60m four-tiered spire St Bride’s is second only to St Paul’s as the tallest church building in London and, until modern skyscrapers were built nearby, used to dominate the landscape of the surrounding area.
In the 18th Century a pastry cook named William Rich had a bakery at 3 Ludgate Hill overlooking St Bride’s.
Legend has it that the church inspired him to make a unique wedding cake for his bride, Susannah Pritchard, to impress her father, a barber whose premises were at nearby Gutter Lane.
But the real story was that one of Rich’s well-to-do clients had commissioned a cake with a difference.
Anyway, over the intervening centuries Rich’s design has become the norm – and not just for wealthy families.
The current St Bride’s is the sixth church on the site.
Although journalists and newspaper proprietors claim it as their own, the nearest most workers in the print media ever come to checking it out it is through the windows of the many classic pubs in the surrounding streets and lanes.
Watering holes such as the Old Bell Tavern, allegedly built by Wren to house the stonemasons who were rebuilding St Bride’s after the Great Fire.
Nevertheless, those who called Fleet Street their second home, did have a hand in raising money to rebuild the church after it was almost completed destroyed by Luftwaffe fire-bombs during a 1940 raid in World War II.
Only the steeple had survived.
But the Luftwaffe bombing and the subsequent restoration uncovered the foundations of one of the earlier churches on the site dating to sixth century Saxon times.
Tourists are able to visit historic foundations and crypts in which bodies dating back to the Great Fire were buried.
They include the brother of noted diarist Samuel Pepys.
At the time Tom Pepys died in 1664 the crypts were so overcrowded that the renowned writer had to bribe an embalmer to push several bodies together to make room for his sibling.
Or so the story goes!