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St Mary-le-Bow

St Mary-le-Bow (45)

The origins of this beautiful church in the City area goes back to the Norman era, of which the crypt is conserved with a ground plan of 3 naves which, due to its characteristic arches, or “bows”, gives the church its name.

Reduced to ashes after the Great Fire of 1666, Saint Mary-le-Bow was rebuilt by Christopher Wren, the architect of Saint Paul’s Cathedral. The reconstruction was undertaken between 1670 and 1680.

After the severe bombings of 1941, the structure built by Wren was seriously damaged. In fact little more than the bell tower and some isolated sections of walls remained. Nevertheless, the temple was not abandoned, in fact, quite the opposite.  At the end of the 50s a new reconstruction was carried out, which was completed in 1962.

The church that you can see today features, on the one hand, the portico, adorned with a series of Doric columns, and on the other hand, the curious bell tower standing nearly 70 metres high. Its peculiarity lies in the fact that the tower supporting it has a square ground plan, while the actual bell tower is round. The tower is crowned by a weather vane in the form of a dragon. Inside, the stained-glass windows show the Virgin protecting the churches of London during the bombing. 

Clearly the most outstanding element of Saint Mary-le-Bow are the bells, of special importance for the authentic inhabitants of the area, the cockneys. After the destruction caused by the Blitz they were recast and hung once again. They say that someone is only an authentic cockney, that is an authentic Londoner, if they were born within earshot of Bow bells.

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