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Bow Locks3.jpg
Bow Locks, Bromley-by-Bow
Grid reference: TQ365825
Location: 51°31’47"N, 0°1’44"W
Post town: London
Postcode: E3
Dialling code: 020
Local Government
Council: Tower Hamlets
Bethnal Green and Bow

Bow is a part of the East End of London, but a distinct town with its own character. Strung out eastward from the City's Aldgate is a series of villages run into one urban mass; Whitechapel, Stepney, Mile End, and finally Bow. Beyond Bow is the River Lea; Middlesex's eastern border, and beyond that is Stratford.

Bow is mentioned in the Canterbury Tales by its earlier name of Stratford-atte-'Bow ("Stratford at the bow"), a counterpart to Stratford (or Stratford Langthorne) in Essex across the river; both are named for old Roman street and the ford it crosses there. Bow was known in Anglo-Saxon days as Strætford. The town retained the name into the nineteenth century: Thomas Moule's maps published from 1830 show it variously as "Bow" and as "Stratford le Bow". The "bow" is the bow in the River Lea by which it stands.

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