Restoration of the gateway.The How Memorial Gateway is the only part of St Leonard’s Priory to have survived a direct hit from a bomb in 1941. The priory was originally a flourishing Benedictine nunnery with records dating back to 1122, referenced in The Canterbury Tales. Once full of fishponds and orchards, and serving 30 nuns, by the time of the Suppression in 1536 it was already in decline. Its buildings and land were sold to Sir Ralph Sadler who served as a Privy Councillor for King Henry VIII. The medieval church was truncated for use as a parish church for Bromley-by-Bow and the churchyard still has a number of 17th century Huguenot burials. Attempts were made to repair the church in 1842 but the medieval walls collapsed. The whole church was rebuilt in 1843 with the How Memorial Archway added in 1893. The church remained standing until the bomb hit in 1941, and the churchyard was then cleared.
The gateway is currently on the At Risk register. It has spalling stonework and has lost its coping, buttress finials and part of the crucifix on top. Restoration work will include cleaning of the stonework, repairs to missing and eroded areas, re-carved decorative elements and inscriptions and repointing all stonework with lime mortar. The project will be delivered in conjunction with a community engagement project to regenerate the churchyard as an attractive park for local residents.