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St Mary le Bow, London

Historical Description

St. Mary le Bow, a parish in the City of London.

Church Records, in conjunction with the London Metropolitan Archives, have digitised the registers for St Mary le Bow


The church of St Mary-le-Bow, or Bow Church, stands in Cheapside, on the arches of the crypt of a Norman church which is thought to have been the earliest arched one in London, and may thence have taken the name of Le Bow. The ancient church was built in 1087; was the original meeting-place of the Court of Arches; had in the time of Edward III. a tribune in which the royal family sat to see the city processions; and was noted for the sound of its bells, mentioned in a famous line of Pope, and the subject of a proverb which makes birth within the sound of Bow Bells equivalent to London citizenship. The present church was built by Wren at a cost of £8071; is regarded, next to St Paul's Cathedral, as his masterpiece; has a remarkably beautiful steeple, 239½ feet high, exhibiting all the orders of pillared architecture, containing a balcony in place of the tribune on the old church, terminating in a dragon-vane 9 feet long, and restored in 1820 by Gwilt; is the church in which the bishops elect of the province of Canterbury are confirmed, and in which the Boyle lectures are preached; and had Bishop Newton, the author of the work on the "Prophecies," as a rector for twenty-five years. The bells of the present steeple retain the fame of the ancient ones, were set up in 1762, and form a peal of ten.

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of London, 1568 is available to browse from the Heraldry page.