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Our History

On 17 November 1311, Bishop Ralph Baldock of London licensed the building of a chapel at Bow. This act began 700 years of worship on this site.


The majority of the building that currently stands on the site dates from about 1490 when the earlier church buildings were in need of major repair.


In 1719, Bow Church finally ceased to be a daughter chapel to St Dunstan's Church in Stepney when it was consecrated on 6 April as the independent parish of St Mary, Stratford Bow.


A number of notable people have worshipped at the church. Perhaps the most famous is George Lansbury who was a major politician in the first half of the 20th century. He was MP for Bow and Bromley, a member of the first Labour government and, for a time, the leader of the party. He was a Christian Socialist and pacificist who, in his old age, strove to avoid the outbreak of the Second World War (even going to meet Hitler) and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.


Unfortunately, the Second World War also brought disaster to the church building. On the night of 10/11 May 1941, the church was hit by a bomb in the last major raid of the Blitz. The tower and the western part of the church were damaged.


Restoration work began in 1949. In 1951, when the church was visited by the Queen Mother (then the Queen), there was a lot of work still to be completed. On 30 November 1952, the church was rededicated following the completion of the redesigned tower and installation of new bells.


In 2011, Bow Church was 700 years old. We welcome everyone to share in the seven centuries of worship that has taken place on this site and the contribution of the Christians who have worshipped here and will worship here in the future.


We look forward to welcoming you!


If you would like to know more about the history of Bow Church, you might be interested to read the information in the 700 Years section of this site or our Guide to the Church of St Mary, Bow.


If you are interested in the parish records of the parishes of Holy Trinity Church, Bow or St Mary's Church, Bow with Bromley St Leonard, the historic records are now held by the London Metropolitan Archives. If you are interested in more recent records, visit our Parish Records page to see the dates of the records that are still held at the church.


To commemorate the centenary of the First World War, we applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to restore the memorial plaques that record the names of those who lost their lives in the Great War. If you would like to find out more about the project and what we discovered about those whose names are remembered on our WW1 memorials, visit our WW1 page.