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  1. #1
    Mutley
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    Default Cockney Ancestors

    Were your Londoners born within the sound of Bow Bells?

    What area would be covered by the Bow Bell/s?

    "I do not know" said the great bell of Bow.........

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    St. Mary le Bow is smack in the middle of the City. Being a cockney would originally have meant being a city dweller, ie probably born in The City.

    These days I doubt you would be able to hear the Bow Bells much beyond Cheapside - far too many tall buildings around them.

    Geoff

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    Knowledgeable and helpful Karen Newman's Avatar
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    from Wikipedia:

    ... the traditional definition is that in order to be a Cockney, one must have been born within earshot of the Bow Bells. However, the church of St Mary-le-Bow was destroyed in 1666 by the Great Fire of London and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren. After the bells were destroyed again in 1941 in The Blitz of World War II, and before they were replaced in 1961, there was a period when by this definition no 'Bow-bell' Cockneys could be born. The use of such a literal definition produces other problems, since traffic noise and the current lack of a hospital with a maternity ward in earshot of the church would also severely limit the number of 'true' Cockneys that could be born.

    A study was carried by the city in 2000 to see how far the Bow Bells could be heard, and it was estimated that the bells would have been heard six miles to the east, five miles to the north, three miles to the south, and four miles to the west.

  4. #4
    Mutley
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    Thank you,
    That is exactly what I wanted to know.

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    Super Moderator Neil Wilson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutley View Post
    Thank you,
    That is exactly what I wanted to know.
    So Mutt are you a Cockney?

  6. #6
    Mutley
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    Well.......

    I've just tried to work it out on an old map with a ruler and I would say very roughly that your London ancestors could be Cockneys if born

    Almost to Tottenham in the North
    West Ham in the East
    Camberwell in the South
    Marylebone in the West

    I hope someone corrects me if I am wrong.

    Neil,
    The answer is most definitely YES as regards area, spitting distance but NO to timing because they were not ringing when I was born. So I still "'aint nun the wiser, me ole mate!!!"

  7. #7
    AnnB
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    Hello Mutley

    I'm going to put a bit of a damper on the works, as, although it 'as long been said a true Cockney was born within the sound of the Bow Bells, I was always brung up to believe that only those born in the East End could claim the title. I can't say I've ever come across someone souff of the River, who would claim to be a Cockney, but anyone born in Befnal Green, Stepney, West 'Am, etc., etc. - now that's a different matter

    There's an interesting little article on the BBC web site at http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/..._feature.shtml which seems to say the same thing.

    Best wishes
    Ann

  8. #8
    Mutley
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    Hello Ann,
    The reason I started this thread is because I was involved with some Londoners recently in a rather heated debate on the subject.

    A very well spoken Lambeth lady and a West Ham man who insisted the church bells were St. Mary's in Bow both claimed the title. A London cabbie, the only cockney sounding speaker, did not as he came from Dagenham. I was born in 'Barts' but as I said before, the bells were not ringing at the time so was a 'Don't know'. A Kentish lady whose father was born and died in Southwark maintained his claim and a coloured fellow of Jamaican descent born in Notting Hill was sure he could say he was one.

    I had read somewhere that in 1991, Dr Malcolm Hough carried out research taking into account such things as weather, wind and landscape to map where the Bow Bells could be heard. I have tried to google for a copy of the map but cannot find one and was hoping someone had a copy.

    Thanks for your help...

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    The map used to be at www.steeljam.dircon.co.uk/cockney.htm but if you go there now there's a marker but no image.
    However, if you enter that link into the Wayback Machine at www.archive.org/web/web.php and look at an archived copy of the site you'll find it.

    Maybe someone who knows how to add an image to a reply will be kind enough to pick it up?

  10. #10
    Mutley
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    Thanks for that Hugar. I gon un dun it!!


    The map shown illustrates the limits when the background sound levels are taken into consideration. Dr Hough estimated that before motorised traffic the sound levels would be in the region of 50 decibels during the day, reducing to 30 decibels at night. The equivalent reading today would be 60 reducing to 45 thus greatly reducing the Cockney area.
    Source: The East End, then and now; Winston G Ramsey

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