Parish & Ward Church of St. Botolph without Bishopsgate

Bishopsgate Bomb - 25th anniversary

Yesterday, 24 April, marked the 25th anniversary of the bombing of Bishopsgate by the IRA in 1993. Ed Henty, a news photographer, was killed in the blast and 44 people were injured. The financial cost was severe, estimated at the time to be over £1 billion of damage. There was massive damage to the surrounding commercial buildings, including the NatWest tower – then Europe’s tallest building – and 500 tonnes of broken glass were eventually removed from the area. The bombing happened just over a year after the bombing of the Baltic Exchange, also by the IRA, which killed 3 people, injured over 90,
and caused £800 million worth of damage.
St Botolph’s suffered in both bombs, particularly in the Bishopsgate bomb which opened up the roof and left the church without any windows or doors; the Rector's first task was to collect up the papers from his office which were scattered all over the Churchyard and the street. Worship continued without a break, but in the Vestry, and in hard hats! The Church Hall also suffered severe structural damage in the Bishopsgate bomb.

Our extensive restoration project took several years to complete, culminating in a Thanksgiving Service in January 1997 at which the Bishop of London dedicated a new stained glass memorial commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Bowyers, in the window nearest the site of the two blasts.
All Hallows London Wall, the Guild Church in our parish, was also badly affected in 1993; damage to St Michael and St Peter in Cornhill, St Andrew Undershaft and St Helen Bishopsgate, was described as ‘minor’. But the church which suffered the greatest loss was our neighbour St Ethelburga-the-Virgin Bishopsgate, which was 70% damaged (and was not insured). Under the patronage of Bishop Richard Chartres it was eventually rebuilt as a Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, opened by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2002.

The anniversary was marked by a special service of commemoration at St Ethelburga’s last evening, led by Lord Chartres and the St Ethelburga's Chaplaincy team. St Botolph’s provided the musicians for the service, and Fr Luke and Mhairi Ellis assisted Bishop Richard and Sir Tony Baldry, Chairman of Trustees, with the preparation and printing of the order of service. St Ethelburga’s is a tiny church and can only seat 100; it was hoped that it might be possible to stream the service live over to St Botolph’s to allow more people to participate, but the cost unfortunately proved prohibitive so our presence at the service, apart from the musicians, was limited to Fr Luke and Churchwarden Chris Watkins.
At our lunchtime service today we make our own commemoration of the anniversary, incorporating some of the prayers used at last night’s service. Please remember those who lost their lives or were injured in both bombings, and give thanks for the work of the St Ethelburga’s Centre as it continues its invaluable work in promoting the cause of reconciliation and creating peace makers.