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. 

Thomas Allery enjoys a varied career spanning work as an organist and choral director in church music, continuo playing, research and teaching.

He is Director of Chapel Music at Worcester College, Oxford, where he is responsible for the musical development of the Chapel choirs and organ scholars. He directs and trains the two Chapel choirs, of mixed and boys’ voices, for regular chapel services, concerts, tours and recordings.

Tom is also Assistant Director of Music at St Marylebone Parish Church, London, where he accompanies the professional choir, and is Director of the church’s Youth Choir.

Tom graduated with Distinction from the Masters programme at the Royal College of Music, London, in 2014, where he studied organ with Margaret Phillips and harpsichord with Terence Charlston.

As a harpsichordist and continuo player, Tom has a particular interest in the instrumental music of the 17th-century Stylus Phantasticus. He performs regularly with his own period ensemble, Ensemble Hesperi, with whom he is undertaking research into late 18th-century Scottish Baroque Music.

The Cheapside Chorus

Do you enjoy singing? The Cheapside Chorus made its concert debut at LIVE in the Churchyard 2019, our annual summer music festival. It is open to singers who work in, or regularly visit the City, and especially those who might wish to rekindle enthusiasm for singing. If you enjoy singing, or if you would like to give it a go in this friendly and ambitious new choir, please do consider joining us – details of our next project will be available soon. 

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