Bow bells (n.)

"born within the sound of Bow Bells" is the traditional (since early 17c.) definition of a Cockney; the reference is to the bells of the church of St. Mary-le-Bow in London's Cheapside district. A church or chapel probably stood there in Anglo-Saxon times, and has been rebuilt many times (it was last destroyed in a 1941 air raid); the bells were noted for their sound from 16c., and a great bell hung there from 1762 to 1941. The church was noted from medieval times for its arches, hence the name, from bow (n.1).

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