Statement of Significance
St Paul’s Bow Common by Robert Maguire and Keith Murray (1959-60) is a post-war church of great significance, and is the vanguard of the Liturgical Movement in the Anglican Church.
In 2013 this was recognised when it was awarded the best post-1953 church in Britain, following a competition held by the National Churches Trust / Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association / The C20 Society on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the National Churches Trust.
St Paul’s Bow Common was the project that launched the practice of Robert Maguire and designercraftsman
Not only did Maguire and Murray completely re-think the design of churches, but they also are credited with reinventing the typology of both school buildings and student accommodation, with significant projects including the Bow Common Primary School (adjacent to St Paul’s Church) and Stag Hill Court student houses. Though small, the design led practice was highly influential within the changing context of post-war architecture in the UK. Their reputation developed for pursuing the intellectual and architectural toughness of the style known as New Brutalism with the humanity and warmth of the Scandinavian tradition
Maguire and Murray were deeply engaged in the New Churches Research Group, through which the Liturgical
In response to this, Maguire and Murray sought to conceive an appropriate modern setting for worship and
Despite the dominance of the centralised plan at St Paul’s, the conception of the space includes a rich layering of
The simple but bold techtonic expression is created through a simple palette of materials and authenticity in construction –Ibstock bricks and fair-faced concrete – which embodies the spirit of sacramentalism, that is, ordinary things made special through a transformative process, in this case, inspired design.
In his recent Monograph about the work of Bob Maguire and Keith Murray, Gerald Adler suggests Bow Common is “the most famous and significant parish church to be built in Britain in the latter half of the twentieth century. It crystallised architectural and theological thinking about the form that the church should assume in the post-war era. It was a highly symbolic project, the one which would bring the practice critical acclaim.”
This text comes from the tender document produced by ARMÉ architects, 2014