Prayer and worship have been offered here since around 1080, when the first church on this site was founded as the London headquarters of the archbishops of Canterbury. The medieval church of St Mary-le-Bow survived three devastating collapses before being completely destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. Rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren, it was destroyed once more in 1941 but was again rebuilt and re-consecrated in 1964.
Monday to Friday: 07.00 – 18.00
The church is sometimes open on weekends and some bank holidays, please enquire the preceding day. Guided tours are sometimes available by arrangement. Assisted access to the church is available at the west porch from the Churchyard.
The daily offices of Morning and Evening Prayer are said in church most weekdays. The Eucharist is celebrated daily from Tuesday to Friday. A lunchtime Meditation Group meets weekly in the Crypt Chapel. Principal feats and seasons are celebrated with a High Mass and music for voices and organ.
In the middle ages St Mary-le-Bow was famous as the home of the single ‘curfew’ bell which rung from the site in the middle of London’s central street – Cheapside – to indicate the end of the working day. So if you could hear Bow bell, you must be a Londoner or ‘cockney’. The bells came crashing down in 1941 when the church was destroyed by enemy action. The church was rebuilt in 1960-4 by Lawrence King and the bells were restored in 1961.
The windows of St Mary-le-Bow are among the most striking features of the building as restored in 1964. They, together with the other furnishings, vestments etc, were designed by John Hayward (1929-2007) who worked in Faithcraft, a firm which sought to bring the principles of the Liturgical Movement to fruition. The windows are signed (1963) by Hayward in the bottom left of the south east (right) window.
Café Below is a friendly, family run restaurant in the Crypt of St Mary-le-Bow, serving rustic handmade food using fresh simple and seasonal ingredients. During the summer, there is al fresco dining in the Churchyard and Street Food cooked and serviced outside Tuesday to Friday lunchtimes.
Open for breakfast, lunch, takeaway, private dining, private events and wine tasting.
JustShare is a coalition of churches and charities committed to global development and social justice. JustShare organizes free, public debates, seminars, lectures and other events aiming to raise awareness, specifically within the City of London, of international development issues, and to encourage positive action in response.
The JustShare Lectures on Christian Social and Political Thought were inaugurated by Tony Benn in 2009. We also host debates and panel discussions exploring topical matters of ethics and social responsibility. These early-evening events allow time for Q&A and an informal discussion over wine afterwards.
Lunchtime Recitals and evening concerts are all listed in our current Programme. As well as organ and chamber music recitals on some Thursday lunchtimes (free entry, retiring collection), we welcome choirs and ensembles presenting evening concerts, including our resident orchestra the Academy of St Mary-le-Bow.
The new Boyle Lectures have been given annually at the parish church of St Mary-le-Bow in the City of London since 2004. These lectures are designed to address topics which explore the relationship between Christianity and our contemporary understanding of the natural world.
‘How can we as busy people in professional and business life find time and space to reflect on our lives as Christians at work?’
‘How can we bring our faith to bear in today’s workplace?’
The Forum provides a place to explore these and other questions. Tried and tested in the City of London, Canary Wharf and elsewhere in the UK, the Faith and Work Forum offers a distinctive approach to Christian formation for people at work.
We are pleased to offer a 30-minute lunchtime meditation group on Tuesdays at 13:05, in the Crypt Chapel (go out of the church, turn left and down the steps in the corner of the Churchyard). Newcomers are very welcome. The group is affiliated to the World Community of Christian Meditation.
The St Mary-le-Bow Young Homeless Project has, since 1990, taken young homeless people into safe flats, and young ex-offenders, often ex-prisoners, into its office for training. It gives them all help towards work, which most of them achieve in a Pret A Manger Apprenticeship Scheme, leading to a permanent job, stability and independence.
A collaboration of churches and charitable ventures, Bow Food Bank is based at St Mary’s Church on Bow Road in Tower Hamlets. Its principal aim is to alleviate food poverty in Bow. Its work is supported by St Mary-le-Bow among others.
Every two months a group meets after the Thursday evening Eucharist to discuss the book they have been reading. Refreshments are provided and the members suggest the next title for consideration.