Dame Angela Lansbury Visits Bow Church
George Lansbury was a committed Christian Socialist, worshipping with his family at Bow Church for 40 years. His granddaughter is the actress Dame Angela Lansbury, who played Mrs Potts in the original Disney cartoon Beauty and the Beast.
On Saturday 7 May 2011, a service was held at Bow Church to commemorate his life and unveil a plaque in his memory to celebrate the legacy he left behind – an East End committed to social justice for all. Very sadly, Michael Peet, Rector of Bow, who had done much to bring about the 150th celebrations of Lansbury’s birth, died just a few weeks before the service. The plaque was unveiled by Lansbury’s granddaughter, the actress Angela Lansbury DBE, and his descendant, George Lansbury Jnr, who laid red roses at the foot of the plaque. The service was attended by local dignitaries, over 80 members of the Lansbury family, and many people who honoured his memory.
Jon Cruddas MP declared:
‘We are here to celebrate the life of one of the true heroes of the Labour party: George Lansbury. A man who was – to quote the great historian AJP Taylor – “the most lovable figure in British politics”. We as a party are really only beginning to understand the true significance of the man and of his leadership of the party; a process of rehabilitation is underway yet is far from complete. I think of Lansbury as arguably the greatest ever Labour leader.’
Speakers included Professor John Shepherd, Co-Director of the Labour History Research Unit and author of George Lansbury (OUP, 2004), and Lord Professor Peter Hennessy, Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary College, University of London and a co-founder of the Institute of Contemporary British History. The service included one of Lansbury’s favourite hymns For All the Saints and closed with the singing of Jerusalem (sung at George Lansbury’s memorial service in Westminster Abbey in May 1940) and The Red Flag. It was truly a day to remember.