St Mary-le-Bow, London

RRA Architects > St Mary-le-Bow, London
  • RRA worked closely with the Corporation of London and the Parochial Church Council to create a new square for London and to install a concealed lift providing level access within the existing west door of this world famous, Grade 1 Listed church.
  • Client: St Mary-Le-Bow
  • Status: 2014
  • Location: City Of London
  • Lift Supplier: Sesame Access Lifts
  • Categories: Ecclesiastical
  • Tags: Basement, Concealed Lift, Disabled Access, Ecclesiastical, Sesame Access Lift, Sesame Lift

The church site of St Mary-le-Bow dates from around 1080, although the original structure collapsed and was rebuilt three times before being completely destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666. Following this the church was rebuilt under the direction of Sir Christopher Wren, only to be almost completely destroyed again in 1941. The current building by Laurence King was built and re-consecrated in 1964.

St Mary-le-Bow houses the Bow Bells famous for ‘the great bell of Bow’ of the nursery rhyme ‘Oranges and Lemons’, the tradition that a true Londoner or ‘Cockney’ is born within the sound of the bells, for ringing the curfew in the Middle Ages and for calling Dick Whittington back to London to become Lord Mayor.

Working in such a historically sensitive building it was imperative that the Sesame Access lift used was almost invisible and hidden within the stone steps. The whole assembly retracts to reveal a stainless steel rising lift platform to create the disabled lift system. The lift event is totally automated, allowing disabled and ambulant users to continue to use the doorway, whilst the lift is in operation.

The new square was laid out to evoke the Cordwainer Ward and the historic connection with Moores and the geometry of Spain.

Watch a Sesame Access lift in action: