`London was but is no more!' In these words diarist John Evelyn summed up the destruction wrought by the Great Fire that swept through the City of London in 1666. The losses included St Paul's Cathedral and eight-seven parish churches (as well as at least thirteen thousand houses).
In After the Fire, celebrated photographer and architectural historian Angelo Hornak explores, with the help of his own stunning photographs, the churches built in London during the sixty years that followed the Great Fire, as London rose from the ashes, more beautiful - and far more spectacular - than ever before. The catastrophe offered a unique opportunity to Christopher Wren and his colleagues - including Robert Hooke and Nicholas Hawksmoor - who, over the next forty years, rebuilt St Paul's and fifty-one other London churches in a dramatic new style inspired by the European Baroque.
Forty-five years after the Fire, the Fifty New Churches Act of 1711 gave Nicholas Hawksmoor the scope to build breathtaking (and controversial) new churches including St Anne's Limehouse, Christ Church Spitalfields and St George's Bloomsbury.
By the 1720s the pendulum was swinging away from the Baroque of Wren and Hawksmoor, and it was James Gibbs' more restrained St Martin-in the-Fields that was to provide the prototype for churches throughout the English-speaking world - especially in North America - for the next hundred years.
Angelo Hornak is the author of Balloon over Britain (1991) and London from the Thames (1999) and has provided the photographs for many books, including histories of St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey and the cathedrals of Canterbury, Winchester, Wells, Exeter and Ely. He lives in London and Norfolk. The Rt. Rev. Stephen Platten is Rector of St Michael on Cornhill and Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of London