The Bow Trust

The Building

Annual Reports


The church of St Mary-le-Bow stands in the shadow of Durham Cathedral. The church has medieval origins although much of the present building dates from the seventeenth century.

In the middle ages, an arch connected the church tower to the fortifications creating a gateway or 'bow'. However, the gateway, the tower and much of the west end of the church collapsed in 1635.

Despite the efforts of the parishioners, the building lay in ruins until 1685. Then, with help both from the bishop of Durham and the cathedral's Dean and Chapter, rebuilding finally began. The present tower was added in 1702. It contains a single bell cast by Dalton of York in 1759.

The church contains some very fine wood carving. The altar rails and the rood screen are early, dating from 1705 and 1707 respectively. The wainscoting was installed in 1731, and the west gallery and vestry were erected in 1741. The nineteenth century organ bay attached to the north side of the chancel contained an organ by the local firm of Harrison & Harrison.

The church was closed in 1968 and many of the fitting were removed.