A Saxon church was the first church to occupy this site in the 7th century. The church stood on the banks of the now vanished River Walbrook, a tributary of the Thames that now flows underground through the City.
St Stephen Walbrook, the Lord Mayor's parish church, was rebuilt after the Great Fire of LOndon by Sir Christopher Wren in 1672-80 and the graceful spire was added in 1713-17. Mainly hidden behind the Mansion House, the small church has a plain exterior, and inside the Classical interior, entered through a 17th century door-case, is bright and airy.
The cross-in-square plan has a central dome, creating a feeling of space in a relatively cramped site. The dome, a forerunner of the dome of St Paul's, has ornate plasterwork supported by eight Corinthian columns and arches. High box pews once filled the body of the church but since they have gone the high bases of the columns serve no purpose.
The great arched east window almost fills the chancel wall and in front is a 17th century reredos by Thomas Creecher and William Newman.
St Stephen Walbrook suffered serious bomb damage during World War II but has been restored, largely due to efforts by Lord Palumbo. Many of the original fittings survived including Wren's ornate font and pulpit with it's canopy. These 17th century fittings contrast with Henry Moore's massive white polished stone altar, commissioned by Lord Palumbo and installed in 1987.
The altar, placed under the dome, has light-coloured benches curving around it.
Above the south door is the organ, built in 1906, by William Hill but with a case from 1765. On the north wall hangs 'The Martyrdom of St Stephen' by the American artist Benjamin West, who later became a Royal Academician in 1768. The most moving monument, however, is a telephone in a glass box, a tribute to the Rector, Prebendary Dr Chad Varah, who in 1953 founded the 'Samaritans', the voluntary organisation that staffs a 24 hour telephone hot-line for people in emotional need.
Weekly lunchtime recitals and organ recitals are held in St Stephen Walbrook and these free concerts allow visitors to see the church at its best.