As Looking For Ghosts continued to search for the paranormal amongst London’s concealed past, we arrived at St Mary-le-Bow. It is said that you can only truly be considered cockney if you were born within earshot of the churches’ chimes; the Bow Bells. It is also, along with a few other London churches, immortalised in the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons. However, few people are aware that this famous church once suffered a deadly curse…
In the 11th and 12th centuries black masses were held at the site, leading many locals to believe it had become cursed. In 1091, the roof blew off killing a considerable number of local residents, whilst more people were crushed to death in 1271 as the tower collapsed into the street below.
The church was also nearly destroyed in 1196 when the Archbishop of Canterbury used fire to smoke out murderous tax-dodger William Fitzobert who had been hiding out in the tower. How that plan went wrong we’ll never know.
St Mary’s houses many a grim tale, as Lawrence Duckett was murdered within the building at the end of the 13th Century. Consequently 17 men were hanged (and one woman burned to death) for this crime.
Almost inevitably St Mary-le-Bow was destroyed by the Great Fire of London and was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren in 1673 , when many people say the curse was lifted. Nice one, Chris!
Fire, murder, toppling towers; whilst there can be no argument that St Mary’s is the unluckiest church in the world, is it the result of some ancient hex? Or just poor infrastructure?
Despite us pressing our ears up against the door of the crypt, we still didn’t experience any bloody ghosts. Probably because the crypt, which for centuries amassed decaying corpses, ironically houses a fashionable vegetarian restaurant these days.