What a Great Day Climbing Angel’s St Mary’s Church Tower


Foxes had a wonderful time visiting the historic parish of Islington – St. Mary’s Church – over the weekend. It was such a delight meeting Simon, the vicar of St. Mary’s, who is passionate about the community and knowledgeable in its changes. We not only learned valuable insights on the church’s history, but also had an inspirational conversation over London’s ever changing journey.

Considering London as an example, its urban development is mostly influenced by its people. Its urbanscape reflects its past, its present, and often times, predicts its future. Just take a look at the following views towards the City, although the scenery is completely different if you look closely you can still pick up some similarities. The old path connecting the city and the monumental St. Paul remind us of the past while the compact residential blocks and the skyline in the distant reflect London’s present metropolitan state. Of course, the futuristic-looking high-rise buildings could also be an indicator of the future.


Shall we get back to the church visit?

St. Mary’s Church went through quite a lot in its long history. Although the current standing building was built in 1754, a Norman church was once built at the same location in the 12th century. The church was bombed on the third night of the blitz. Fortunately, the tower and portico survived the attack so we could visit the tower. Let’s take a look at what’s inside the building!

The crypt is also the brightest one we have been to! We found the church builder’s tomb and an old Norman church stone hidden in the crypt level.

St Mary's Church_BIBO version-04

The large steel windows allow plenty of natural light to enter the nave and provide a visual connection to the green garden. The combination of traditional church elements (i.e. Warm wooden furniture, grand pillars and interior) and modern structures (i.e. Steel framed windows, coffer ceiling and plain walls) creates a distinct characteristic of the interior. It reminds us of the past in the present.

St Mary's Church_BIBO version-05

The first room we reached after climbing the narrow wooden spiral stairs hidden under a secret tiny door was an angular-shaped room used for bell ringing. We’ve always wondered about what’s inside of this window and would never imagine a warm and cozy space like this from its exterior.

St Mary's Church_BIBO version-06

There are many small openings along the dark spiral stairs. Behind these holes is the enclosed bell ringing space and the English bell mechanism. Do you know that in order for the tower structure to sustain the bell ringing movement the mortar is specially made to include horse hair to increase the structural flexibility?!

St Mary's Church_BIBO version-07

Hampstead Heath, Alexander Palace, Upper Street, The Gherkin, The Shard, St Paul’s, London Eye, and BT Tower are all in our view! It’s amazing to see the city from a familiar point high above. As for the Gaudi-like steeple, Simon mentioned that the church’s design was actually influenced by St. Martin’s-in-the-fields and Bow Church. Do you see the similarities?



  • Have a look at the extensive article about St Mary’s Church Islington‘s history here
  • Full-circle ringing is a particular English way to ring the bell. The bell is mechanism on a wheel that allows it to rotate 360 degrees. (Learn more about the interesting bell mechanism here)
  • Bell ringing is a very skillful technique and a total of 8 bells can produce 5024 combinations! In October 2004, a full peal of bell (ring them all in sequence with no mistake and no repeat) with 5024 combination was completed in 3hrs 6mins! Can you imagine what that sounds like?
  • Check out another post we wrote about the beautiful secret garden behind St Mary’s Church.



One comment

  1. […] the bysy Upper Street, stolled down the eery hospital converted residential blocks, visited St. Mary’s tower, and discovered the hidden Angel’s […]


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