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St Mary-le-Bow Cheapside Church

In the civil parish of City Of London.
In the historic county of London and Middlesex.
Modern Authority of City and County of the City of London.
1974 county of Greater London.
Medieval County of City of London.

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ32388114
Latitude 51.51379° Longitude -0.09357°

St Mary-le-Bow Cheapside Church has been described as a Fortified Ecclesiastical site although is doubtful that it was such.

There are masonry footings remains.


In 1196, William fitzOsbert killed a men sent to arrest him and fled to the church of St Mary-le-Bow. John Stow (1956, 228) said that fitzOsbert had already fortified the church with munitions and victuals. Its tower thus served successive purposes - belfry and fortress. (Renn 2014)

Bow steeple fortified. A false accuser of his elder brother in the end was hanged.
In the yeare 1196. William Fitz Osbert, a seditious traitor, tooke the Steeple of Bow, and fortified it with munitions and victualles, but it was assaulted, and William with his complices were taken, though not without bloodshed, for hee was forced by fire and smoke to forsake the Church, and then by the Iudges condemned, he was by the heeles drawne to the Elmes in Smithfield, and there hanged with nine of his fellowes, where because his fauourers came not to deliuer him, hee forsooke Maries sonne (as hee tearmed Christ our Sauiour) and called vpon the Diuell to helpe and deliuer him. Such was the ende of this deceyuer, a man of an euill life, a secrete murtherer, a filthy fornicator, a polluter of concubines, and (amongest other his detestable facts) a false accuser of his elder brother, who had in his youth brought him vp in learning, and done many things for his preferment. (Stow - Kingsford 1908 edn.)

The original latin translated by Stow as 'fortified' may have meant provisioned rather than any particular change to the church (although bolting doors and boarding windows may well have been possible). It seems quite unlikely the church tower could have had its architecture significantly altered to make it a 'fortress' in a significant way. It should be noted that the unusual feature of this church was its crypt, not its tower.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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