A church has probably been on the site of St Mary-le-Bow since Saxon times but the present building was one of the first churches to be rebuilt after the Great Fire of London by Christopher Wren. According to tradition you have to have been born within the sound of the bells of Mary-le-Bow to be considered a true Cockney.
The work on rebuilding the church was completed by 1673 though it was another 7 years before the tower, probably one of Wren’s most ambitious, was completed – and when I visited it was covered in scaffolding.
It was almost completely destroyed once again by a German bomb in 1941 and wasn’t rebuilt until 1964 by Laurence King.
John Smith, the founder of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia, was a former parishioner of the church and there is a memorial to him inside as well as a statue in the churchyard.
It’s a bright building inside, the blue particularly striking. It’s very impressive organ also stands out, though this version only dates from around 2010.
Worth a visit especially if like me you’re trying to tick off all of Christopher Wren’s surviving churches from your to do list. You can find more photos here.