Last Saturday the scaffolding was finally removed from Bow Church Tower. The first part of a Heritage Lottery Funded restoration of the church is complete, and ready for you to see.
On Sat 14th July 2018 Bow Church (E3 3AH) invites you to come to see the Tower in all its glory. The stones have been cleaned and repaired, the clock refurbished, and the cross re-gilded.
Events start at 2.30pm with ringing of the bells in the Tower. There’ll be tea and cake, a Pearly Queen, old music hall songs, and a tower-shaped cake will be cut by John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets. The event finishes at 6pm.
After Queen Matilda had a bow-shaped bridge built in about 1110 over the River Lea, the new settlement called Bow was born. Michael Peet’s informative history of Bow Church describes those early residents. Many were bakers. Corn came down the Lea from Hertfordshire, was ground into flour by waterwheels, and the loaves of bread were sold in the City of London. They were joined by boatmen, butchers, dyers, fishermen, saddlers; and soon there were enough residents in Bow to demand their own church. In 1311 Bishop Ralph Baldock granted permission.
This 700 year old church has witnessed a huge swathe of English history. It started as Catholic with lots of different altars and wall paintings. The Roman Catholic Church was extremely powerful and rich. It collected 10% (tithes) in goods/money from the population. King Henry VIII ditched the Pope, and grabbed the cash around 1534-9. Locally, the familiar way people worshiped with Latin services and processions had to be abandoned. Then his delightful daughter, Queen Mary, took the country Catholic again and burnt an estimated 280 protestants alive at the stake, some of them near here in 1556. Two years later she was dead and her half-sister Elizabeth became England’s protestant Queen.
There’s loads more history I could add, but on Saturday 14th you can visit the church yourself to find out. The old map below shows how Bow Church was physically in the centre of Bow.