Friday, July 10, 2009

St Mary-le-Bow - London

St. Mary-le-Bow's churchyard contains a statue of Captain John Smith, a parishioner who died in London 1631. Smith rose to become Governor of Virginia and Admiral of New England; he was saved from death by Pocahontas. This area of London was the center of the boot-making and leather trades, and Smith's earlier career was as a leather craftsman.

Tradition says that a true “Cockney” must be born within earshot of the sound of the church's bells, used to signal the city’s 9 p.m. curfew, which also marked the end of the work day for an apprentice. This practice continued until 1876. A recording of the Bow Bells made in 1926 has been used by the BBC World Service as an interval signal for the English language broadcasts since the early 1940s. It is still used today preceding some English broadcasts.

The current building was designed by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London claimed the previous church in 1666. John Milton was born on Bread Street, which borders the west edge of the churchyard (plaque on wall of church).

St Mary-le-Bow has no parishioners and no Sunday services: its role today is to minister to the financial industry and livery companies of the City of London with weekday services.

In 1914, a stone from the crypt of St Mary-le-Bow church was placed in Trinity Church Wall Street, New York City, in commemoration of the fact that King William III (1650-1702) granted the vestry of Trinity Church the same privileges as St Mary-le-Bow.

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