Cockney. Bow Bells. St Mary-le-Bow. St Thomas Becket.
At the corner of the church of St Mary-le-Bow you will see some railings and a gate. Go down the steps beyond this gate and descend into the church’s crypt, where you will see the remains of previous buildings on the site, as well as the arches (or Bows) for which Bow Lane and St Mary-le-Bow itself, are both named. Once you have admired these delightful remnants return to the churchyard , go right and in to the main entrance of the church.
St Mary-le-Bow is the church of the ubiquitous ‘Cockney‘. Indeed to be an authentic cockney you must be born within the sound of ‘Bow Bells.’ The term ‘cockney, was originally applied to a small or misshapen egg, which was sometimes referred to as a cock's egg. The Oxford English Dictionary claims that the first use of the word as a reference to native Londoners was in 1521, when it was used by writer Whitinton. In 1617 John Minsheu wrote in his Ductor in Linguas that the word originated thus. 'A cockney or cockny, applied only to one born within the sound of Bow bell, that is in the City of London, a tearme coming first out of this tale. That a citizen's sonne riding with his father in the country, asked when he heard a horse neigh what the horse did; his father answered "neigh." Riding further he heard a cock crow, and said: "Does the cock neigh too?"' Whatever the origin of the term it was intended as a term of flattery for it was applied contemptuously by rural people to native Londoners who lived by their wits as opposed to by their muscle.
Turn right into the Cheapside and cross to its left side keeping ahead past several turns.
Cheapside used to be one of London’s busiest thoroughfares, and from the 13th to the 17th Centuries its was a bustling market place for jewellery, shoes, bread, meat, spices, wine and all kinds of other trinkets and supplies. Its name is derived from the Anglo Saxon word ceap (or chepe) meaning barter.
At the junction with Ironmonger Lane note the plaque commemorating the site of the birthplace of:- This is the origin of the word cheap, and the word shopping evolved from the word cheping, which is why there are so many towns and villages around England with the pre-fix Chipping, as these were the market towns or villages for their region.
At Cheapside’s junction with Ironmonger Lane a wall plaque commemorates:-
St Tomas a Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was murdered at a little after 4pm on December 29th 1170, four Norman knights. They were responding to an outburst against Becket, by King Henry 2nd, “What Miserable drones and traitors have I nourished…who allow their lord to be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric.” His murder sparked off one of the greatest saint-hero cults of the Middle Ages and turned the unappealingly arrogant, haughty and self-centred Becket into a posthumous international icon. Within three years the dead arch-bishop had been canonised and the shrine of St Thomas at Canterbury soon became one of the Christian world’s greatest places of pilgrimage, and countless miracles were said to have taken place there.