The wrong kind of tornado, the church of St Mary-le-Bow, and “Citizen Smith”

2- Flying dragon weather-vaneSeptember 17th  –  On this day in 1091, a 200 mph tornado hit London, destroying 600 houses and damaging the church of St Mary-le-Bow, also known as Bow Church, on Cheapside. 

The church went on to be substantially burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666, with only the crypt surviving, and to be subsequently rebuilt by Christopher Wren. 

St Mary-le-Bow

St Mary-le-Bow

Statue of John Smith

Statue of John Smith

There is a statue of Citizen and Cordwainer Captain John Smith (1580-1631) in Bow Churchyard, adjoining St Mary’s.  Smith sailed on the “Susan Constant” from Blackwall to found the first permanent English settlement in America, in  Jamestown, Virginia, in 1606, “from which began the overseas expansion of the English-speaking peoples” (a plaque on what is now Virginia Quay in Blackwall commemorates the event).    He is buried in the church of St Sepulchre, Newgate Street.  Incidentally, the  Algonquin  princess Pocahontas, who famously saved Smith’s life in America in 1607, visited London in  1616-17, with her by-then husband the tobacco planter John Rolfe, staying at the Bell Savage Inn off Ludgate Hill.  She died in Gravesend in 1617.

The church of St Mary-le-Bow is visited, although not entered, on  our  “Tower to Temple” standard walk, and on our “Rebellious London” themed special (being associated with the rebellion of  “William Longbeard”).

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Guided Walks” section of this web-site. Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, by e-mail (, or by phone (020-8998-3051).

Flying dragon weather-vane

Flying dragon weather-vane

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