A bit of the London Blitz adorns a downtown gate

CherubgateThe front entrance to Trinity Church (and its 17th century burial ground) faces Broadway.

It’s a fascinating, haunting place to lose yourself in early New York history and read the faded gravestones of city founders.

But it’s on a lonely gate at the back of the churchyard (at left), on Trinity Place, where a curious relic—a stone cherub head—can be found.

What’s it doing there?

The head comes from St. Mary-le-Bow church in London’s East End, founded in 1080 and built in 1680 by Christopher Wren.

CherubgatecloseupDuring the Blitz in May 1941, St. Mary-le-Bow, along with thousands of other homes and buildings in London, was leveled by German air raids.

After the war, Trinity Church, a sister church to St. Mary-le-Bow (below, in the 1890s) since Trinity was founded in 1697, pledged $50,000 to help the parish rebuild.

Found in the rubble during construction, the cherub head was gifted to Trinity Church by the people of St. Mary-le-Bow in 1964 as a thank you.

Stmarylebow1890sThe strangely undamaged cherub head now adorns what Trinity has renamed “Cherub Gate” on Trinity Place.

It’s not the only bit of the Blitz to make it to New York City. The landfill used to create the FDR Drive contains pieces of bombed out buildings from Bristol.

And many New Yorkers, including Mayor La Guardia, feared the arrival of German bombers on our side of the Atlantic, so much so that they commissioned this public service poster to alert residents of what to do if a devastating attack on the city actually happened.


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3 Responses to “A bit of the London Blitz adorns a downtown gate”

  1. Zena Woodley Says:

    St Mary le Bow is on Cheapside; which in no way could be described as the East End! It’s not for from St Paul’s.. You may be conflating the Cheapside church with that of Bow church, in Tower Hamlets…

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Thank you! I thought one of the sources I looked at said it was in the East End, but I’ll fix.

  2. Audrey Burtrum-Stanley Says:

    The addition of ‘historic pieces or rubble’ to another structure has been noted in several other constructions around the nation.

    The splendid ‘Chicago Tribune Tower’ (early 20th Cent.) is dotted with bits from: the Taj Mahal; The World Trade Center; The Alamo and even Becky Thatcher’s Cave along with an array of locations that would leave your head spinning!

    North Little Rock, Arkansas was once the home of the gigantic
    ‘Sesquicentennial Sundial,’ (late 20th Century) marking the state’s 150th Birthday. (It has since been dismantled). It too, offered an impressive array of famous international contributions from across the globe including: Brick from ‘The Hiding Place’ of Anne Frank; The Pink Palace in Monte Carlo; St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Germany; The Library of Athens plus dozens of contributions from Africa, South America as well as the Far East…

    Anyone can build a structure, but the thought that it also contains the heartfelt good wishes and recognition of others in far off lands, made tangible through these tidbits of transplanted parts, just makes the site all the more precious. This wee cherub, now nestled in NYC, is a perfect example of kindness along with gratitude.

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