Bow Church is open this week Monday 23 February to Thursday noon to 4pm for visitors to view a small exhibition marking the 150th anniversary of George Lansbury’s birth.
Lansbury was a local councillor who became the MP and Leader of the Labour Party. He was a member of the church and his funeral was held there in May 1940. It was a huge occasion attended by famous people.
Yesterday I went to a memorial service held in St Mary’s where Fr Ken Leech was the preacher. This was a very enjoyable occasion with student George Lansbury, great great grandson, present along with descendants from America. There was also the daughter of someone who had sung in the funeral choir and a grandson of someone who had worked alongside Lansbury.
Tributes were paid by Bruce Kent and Professor Bob Holman. The Bishop of Stepney read from the diary of his predecessor Cosmo Gordon Lang who visited Bow.
This was a huge history lesson held on the high ground above the River Lea. Indeed we were sitting in a church which was once the focus of a riverside village at the foot of Bow Bridge, the crossing into London.
The exhibition includes a copy of the Evening Standard for Friday 10 May 1940 -the day Churchill formed the war government just days before the funeral -which previews Lansbury’s funeral.
This is an opportunity to get inside the church which at present is only open on summer Saturdays. In 2011 the church celebrates its 700th anniversary.
Next Saturday 28 February a George Lansbury History Walk starts at Bow Road Underground Station at 2pm.
See pages 116-117.