Posted: 21 Jul 2016
Category: Area Guide
Bow boasts some of London’s most distinct and rich history. Explore the cultural landscape of E3.
Bow boasts some of London’s most distinct and rich history. Bow is the home of the famous Pearly Kings and Queens, Cockney geezers and the Suffragette movement. Today, it is a delightful mix of the old and new. But what makes Bow, well…Bow?
How did Bow get its name?
The jewel in the Cockney crown started its life as Stratford. Bow is in fact an abbreviation of the medieval name Stratford-atte-Bow. As the story goes, Queen Matilda fell into the ford on the way to visiting nearby Barking Abbey. Royally upset, she gave orders for a bridge to be built to ensure her dry passage. Bow was named after the newly built bow-shaped bridge.
The Cockney myth dispelled
When it comes to East Londoners, and more specifically Cockneys, Bow plays a confused part in their birthright.
Legend has it that you can only be a true Cockney if you were born within the sound of Bow bells. Many people believe that Bow bells is referring to Bow Church. However, the legend actually relates to the bells of St Mary-le-Bow, which are in the City of London. So, it seems that a Cockney is actually what we would now call a City boy.
The home of modern feminism
Finally, Bow can also pride itself on being the home of the Suffragette movement. Sylvia Pankhurst chose a spot on the Bow Road to base the London Federation of Suffragettes organisation.
While Bow has changed greatly in the last twenty years, it has still retained its community spirit. It’s become the ultimate East London hangout if you like cool pubs, independent shops and good places to eat. It’s also right on the doorstep of the beautiful Victoria Park.
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