When people think of London, cockneys are among the first things that spring to mind, with their characteristic wit and rhyming slang having become something of an icon.
However, while many visitors will be aware of phrases like ‘dog and bone’ and ‘apples and pears’, few can claim to know much about the true history of cockney culture.
So, next time you’re in the capital, why not take a trip to the East End to find out more about the origins of the cockney dialect?
The first port of call on your journey will have to be the Saint Mary Le Bow Church on Cheapside in the district known as the City of London, as it is said that to be a true cockney you have to have been born within hearing distance of its bells.
Supposedly, in the days before heavy motorised traffic, this catchment area extended for six miles to the east, five miles to the north, four miles to the west and three miles to the south.
This encompasses a significant portion of the capital, and means that many nearby sites such as St Paul’s Cathedral and Bank fall into cockney territory.
The empire also extends to places such as Whitechapel and the London Docks, where visitors will find market stalls selling traditional cockney delicacies like pie and mash and jellied eels. Both of these are said to have been a staple of dockworkers in the 19th century, with the Thames providing the main ingredient for the latter.
On top of all this, there’s loads of history to discover within the cockney homeland, with the Jack the Ripper tour taking place through the streets of Whitechapel, where the world’s most famous serial killer committed his crimes.
Some of the cash machines in the area even operate in both English and cockney rhyming slang, providing a great way to get to grips with the lingo.