The organs of St Mary-le-Bow

The main organ in the west gallery was built by Kenneth Tickell & Company in 2010, replacing a former instrument by Rushworth & Dreaper. The casework, designed by John Hayward and made by Dove Brothers, dates from the rebuilding of the church in 1964 after its destruction by enemy action in 1941.

The case seems to be loosely based on the work of the Alsace Silbermanns and this French influence was carried into the stop-list. Hence fine mutation registers and reeds with great character. The organ has also a Germanic pleno, rendering it highly suitable for the music of J.S. Bach and other German baroque composers. The French influence enables authentic performances of all periods. In fact, the careful choice and blending of the sensitively voiced registers and the superb ambient acoustic in the church, makes it possible to play almost any style of music with convincing colour, richness and depth.


This organ is highly acclaimed for its ‘singing’ quality. It is also fitted with a MIDI interface, enabling it to drive synthesizers and computers. This opens up a further range of colour, making it possible for other sounds and sonorities, especially those of an avant-garde ‘electronic workshop’ nature (formerly called ‘prepared tape’).

The chamber organ’s origin and builder is unknown, but follows a modest early 19th-century design. It is often used as a continuo instrument, accompanying instruments and voices in the nave.

THOMAS ALLERY has been Director of Music and Organist at St Mary-le-Bow since February 2018. He enjoys a varied career spanning work as an organist and choral director, continuo playing, research and teaching.

Alongside his role here, he is also the assistant Director of Music at the Temple Church where he is responsible for the musical education of the choristers. From 2014-19, Thomas was Director of Chapel Music at Worcester College, Oxford.

Thomas graduated with Distinction from the Masters programme at the Royal College of Music, London, in 2014, studying organ with Margaret Phillips and harpsichord with Terence Charlston, and from 2020 – 22, he was awarded a scholarship to study for an Artist diploma in harpsichord at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying with Carole Cerasi and James Johnstone. At the organ, Thomas is at home playing a variety of repertoire, and is currently working on a project on organ composers of the City of London.

As a harpsichordist and continuo player, Thomas plays regularly with the prize winning period group Ensemble Hesperi, with whom he is undertaking research into late 18th-century Scottish Baroque Music. He is sought after as an organ and harpsichord teacher, currently teaching at City of London School, Radley College, and at the Royal College of Music. He is active as a researcher, working on historical continuo treatises and how they can be applied in musical education today.

The Cheapside Chorus

Do you enjoy singing? Have you ever wanted to perform great choral pieces with an orchestra? The Cheapside Chorus, St Mary-le-Bow’s Festival choir, will be forming again this year. The choir, directed by Director of Music Thomas Allery, is open to all and will perform Vivaldi’s Gloria and Handel’s Zadok the Priest accompanied by the church’s orchestra, the Academy of St Mary-le-Bow on Thursday 23rd June.

The chorus is especially geared to those wishing to rekindle a love of making music together, but who might not have the time to commit to weekly rehearsals. No musical experience is required, and all are welcome. Members will be expected to attend a minimum of four rehearsals before the concert performance as part of the church’s LIVE Festival.

Rehearsal Dates 6:15-7:30pm at St Mary-le-Bow

Monday 9th May   Friday 20th May  Monday 23rd May 
Tuesday 31st May  Monday 6th June  Friday 10th June 
Monday 13th June  Tuesday 14th June  Friday 17th June 

Date of Performance at St Mary-le-Bow
Thursday 23rd June Rehearsal 6:00pm Concert 7:30pm
To register interest email 

To find out more, please email our director of music Thomas Allery:


Toccata on ‘Oranges and Lemons’

Composer Alan Wilson writes:

Everyone will know the nursery rhyme ‘Oranges and Lemons’ with its reference to ‘the great bell of Bow’, and the cockney association if one is born within the sound of Bow Bells. The tower clock also chimes every 15 minutes to a melody by C.V. Stanford.

The origins of this toccata date back to an improvisation I did at an organ recital a few years ago and in the summer of 2016 I decided to write it down for future performances. I set about a carefully constructed piece using both the ‘Oranges and Lemons’ tune and the ‘Bow Bells’ carillon chime (on which I had previously written a Mass setting).


Hear a recording of Alan Wilson’s Toccata on ‘Oranges and Lemons’, played on the organ of St Mary-le-Bow by the composer