With medieval origins, St Mary Bow is the oldest building in Bow and its surrounding area.
St Paul's replaced an earlier church that was designed by Rohde Hawkins in 1858 and financed by William Cotton of Leytonstone. Consecrated by Bishop Charles James Blomfield, this church was largely destroyed in the Second World War, and demolished in the 1950s.
The modern church was built in 1958-60, and the building is listed Grade II*. Its architects were Robert Maguire and Keith Murray. Revd Gresham Kirkby, a Christian Anarchist, was also involved in the design, and continued as parish priest until 1994, being succeeded by Revd Prebendary Duncan Ross, who retired in October 2013.
The lettering around the porch reads 'Truly this is none other but the house of God This is the Gate of Heaven' (Genesis 28:17), was carved by Ralph Beyer. The 800 square foot mosaic is by Charles Lutyens. Made from coloured Murano glass tesserae, and taking five years to make, the mosaic is likely to be the largest artist created contemporary mosaic mural in the British Isles. The church is currently home to Lutyens's 'Outraged Christ'.
On 7 November 2013, the church was judged to be the winner of the National Churches Trust Diamond Jubilee Award for best Modern Church built in the UK since 1953.
The building was described by the judges as the ‘embodiment of the ground swell of ideas about Christian worship’ and a ‘hugely influential signpost for future Anglican liturgy’.