Mum-of-two Debbie Frazer is new rector at ancient Bow Church

A mother-of-two has been appointed rector to take over Bow Church in London’s East End, the 700-year-old medieval place of worship vandalised by thieves stripping its lead roofing and causing �70,000 damage.

The Rev Debbie Frazer has her induction at the troubled St Mary’s in Bow on May 1 conducted by the Archdeacon of Hackney, The Venerable Rachel Treweek.

She was one of 26 applicants, 10 of them women, for the post made vacant by the death of the Rev Michael Peet a year ago, after 22 years in the parish, just before his book on St Mary’s history was published to mark its seven centuries.

“It was nerve-racking to beat 25 others,” Debbie told the Advertiser. “I had to preach a sermon to a panel about the Transfiguration on the Hill, but drew a parallel with transforming an inner city parish like St Mary’s.”

The 53-year-old vicar from Bristol, who has two grown-up sons, was attracted by the East End’s multi-culturalism and high deprivation.

“There is work to do here,” she added. “But there’s something about this ancient church remaining over the centuries in the middle of Bow Road while London changes around it.”

Her appointment marks a turning point for the church that has gone through a bad year since Mr Peet’s death, with thieves stripping the roof. Security alarms are now in place after an emergency meeting earlier this month with police, the London Diocese and National Church Trust.

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Churchwarden Dr Amanda Claremont said: “Hopefully we’re turning the corner after repairing the damage when holes in the roof let rain pour through.”

St Mary’s celebrated its 700th anniversary in November with a book telling the story of the parish through the ages, completed by Michael Peet on his hospital deathbed last summer.