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Work begins on St Leonard's priory

Work has begun on the restoration of the How Memorial Gateway, the entrance to a former Benedictine nunnery in Bromley-by-Bow.

With records dating back to 1122, the Prioress of St Leonard’s Priory - whose French was spoken with a ‘Stratford’ accent – was inspiration for the satirical portrait of the Prioress in the General Prologue of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The site’s Gothic Victorian entrance has been on the Heritage at Risk Register and is now being restored, with the support of Tower Hamlets Council who have given a Historic Buildings Grant, and The Diocese of London.


Local young people are continuing to visit the site as part of our Proud Places programme and meet the stonemasons at work. A community led project to restore the churchyard with new planting will bring it into use as an attractive green space.

Dr Nicola Stacey commented: “London is full of hidden histories and this corner of Bow has a fascinating medieval past. Once vibrant with gardens, fishponds and brewhouses, it was lost in a dead-end street. We are thrilled to bring back to life its stories of Chaucer’s Tales, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Huguenot refugees and the bombing of the East End in WWII. Our Proud Places programme offers a chance for local schoolchildren to get involved in the restoration work itself.”


Alexandra Williams, Buildings Adviser, Diocese of London commented: “We are delighted to be working with Tower Hamlets Council and the Heritage of London Trust on the restoration of the How Memorial Gateway. The Gateway marks the entrance to St Leonard’s Priory Park, an important historical site and local green space that provides the community of Bromley-by-Bow with a place for reflection and interaction with nature.”

How Memorial Gateway has been supported by the Jones Day Foundation.


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