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Crypt Conservation

Conserving the Norman undercroft

The 11th-century crypt, which lies below the Wren church of St Mary-le-Bow, was constructed in c.1080, survived the Great Fire of London in 1666, was incorporated into Wren's church of the 1670s, and was preserved during the rebuilding of the church and crypt after World War II by Lawrence King in
the 1950s.

The crypt today is an attractive space used for several public and religious functions. Anyone who passes St Mary-le-Bow can attend Morning Prayer in the crypt chapel any week day, or drop into the popular restaurant the Café Below for drinks, snacks or meals.
So doing they find themselves in one of the most historic buildings in London. Both the north aisle of the crypt and the eastern part, lately used as the Court of Arches, provide ample space to relax under arching Norman masonry interpersed with Roman bricks.

In 2007 a detailed study of the crypt was undertaken for a number of reasons: to enable a fuller understanding of the site's physical evidence;
to assess its significance; and to develop a conservation policy.

The outcome was the publication of a Conservation Management Plan for the crypt of St Mary-le-Bow. The plan describes the uses of the crypt and its vulnerability as one of London's oldest standing stone structures. The significance of the structure is outlined, and some aspects of its importance are found to be European in scope. The plan also proposes policies of care and management for the crypt's future.