Bombed church to stay a ruin

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A medieval church almost destroyed by an IRA bombing in the City of London will be not be restored, but will be transformed into a modern memorial incorporating the ruins, the Bishop of London, Dr David Hope, confirmed yesterday.

Dr Hope said the design, by the architects Blee Ettwein Bridges, would symbolise "death and resurrection" in the face of terrorism.

The decision will disappoint the Friends of St Ethelburga's pressure group which had campaigned for the Grade I listed building to be rebuilt as it was before the 1993 Bishopsgate blast that killed a newspaper photographer and injured 47.

Details have to be finalised before a planning application is submitted to City planners, but English Heritage has backed a draft of the plans. The church is looking for sponsorship for the uncosted scheme, and hopes it will be completed by the turn of the century.

It will include a first-floor garden, a gallery and church, and a memorial to the victims of the bombing and to the victims of the bombing in 1992 which killed three people and injured 91. Some original walls and other ruins of the church, part of which dated back to the 13th century, will be reinforced and encased under a wave-style roof. The aim is to provide an interdenominational meeting place. The bishop said: "Just to do a restoration and put things back the way they were would make Bishopsgate squeaky clean and clinical."

The Archdeacon of London, the Ven George Cassidy, who will continue the project after Dr Hope leaves to become Archbishop of York, added: "By juxtaposing the very best of modern British architecture with the standing historic remains of the medieval church it will be a reminder of the atrocity. It will make a Christian statement about resurrection and new life coming out of death and destruction."

But Viscount Massereene, of the Friends of St Ethelburga's, said he was disappointed that its plans for restoration had not been adopted and that many of the church's remainswhich were rescued will not be included. "The man in the street would have preferred to see the original medieval church restored, rather than some glass and concrete thing. We have enough of those in the City of London. But at least it won't be an office block."