Bow Church

Bow Church, Tower Hamlets

A Docklands Light Railway station named after the church of St Mary and Holy Trinity, which stands at the eastern end of Bow Road

Bow Church - geograph-3616000-by-John-Salmon

St Mary’s is one of only two medieval church­es in the bor­ough and was estab­lished in 1311 as a chapel of ease to Step­ney. Parts of the present build­ing date from its found­ing and from the late 15th cen­tu­ry. St Mary’s became a parish church in 1719, when rebuild­ing was pro­posed. How­ev­er, lack of funds pre­vent­ed this, and sub­se­quent 19th-cen­tu­ry pro­pos­als, from being imple­ment­ed. Despite the near­by pres­ence of a mid-19th-cen­tu­ry pub called the Bow Bells, this St Mary’s should not be con­fused with the Church of St Mary-le-Bow, which is locat­ed in Cheap­side and pos­sess­es the true Bow bells.

Inside Bow Church, looking down the aisle
The inte­ri­or of St Mary’s church, Bow

Bow sta­tion opened in 1850 on the North Lon­don Rail­way, with ser­vices to Poplar. The Great East­ern Rail­way lat­er added through ser­vices to Fenchurch Street and Southend in Essex. The sta­tion stood on the north side of the road and was rebuilt in much-enlarged form in 1870.

The new sta­tion had a con­cert hall above the book­ing office, which was used for cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al pur­pos­es and lat­er became the Bow Palais. Pas­sen­ger ser­vices ceased in 1944, although the line con­tin­ued to car­ry freight until its clo­sure in 1981, after which the sta­tion build­ings were demol­ished. The site is now occu­pied by a car hire firm. A new sta­tion called Bow Church opened on the oppo­site side of the road in 1987 as one of the orig­i­nal stops on the DLR net­work. The sta­tion is sit­u­at­ed mid­way between the church and Bow Road tube sta­tion.

In 1882 Theodore Bryant of the Bow match-mak­ing com­pa­ny Bryant and May paid for a stat­ue of prime min­is­ter William Glad­stone to be erect­ed in St Mary’s church­yard. Accord­ing to the ear­ly fem­i­nist and work­ers’ rights activist Annie Besant, some of the ‘match girls’ who worked for Bryant and May ‘cut their arms and let their blood trick­le on the mar­ble paid for, in very truth, by their blood’. Even in recent years the stat­ue has been peri­od­i­cal­ly splashed with red paint in rec­ol­lec­tion of this sto­ry.

Postal district: E3
Station: Docklands Light Railway, Stratford branch (zone 2)
Twitter: Bow church
* The photo of St Mary & Holy Trinity, Bow Church, at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright John Salmon, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.
In the satellite map above, St Mary’s church is located in the traffic island formed by the two carriageways of Bow Road.