The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868


BOW, (or Stratford-le-bow), a parish in the Tower division of the hundred of Ossulstone, in the county of Middlesex, 3 miles to the E. of St. Paul's.

It is a station on the North London railway, which is here joined by the North-Western and Docks Junction railway. The Blackwall railway is connected with the Great Eastern railway, which passes this place, and has a station at Stratford, by a short branch line from Bromley. The parish is situated on the river Lea, and three circumstances of the locality are alluded to in its compound name: that a Roman way (stratum) passed by it; that a ford existed here; and that the river was crossed by a bridge. The Roman road led to Leyton, in Essex. The bridge, a very ancient one, is said to have been built by order of Maud, Queen to Henry I., and consisted of three arches, the middle one being much larger than the others. It was by some assigned to a much earlier age. The roadway was very narrow, and after the addition of a new footway on the outside of the wall, the bridge was, in 1834, rebuilt. Bow was originally a chapelry to the parish of Stepney, and so remained till 1730, when it was constituted a parish of itself. It includes the district of Old Ford and part of Victoria Park. It is the site of the East London Waterworks, several large manufactories, Bow Brewery, and Grove Hall Lunatic Asylum. The parish is included in the borough of the Tower Hamlets, and a county court is held here three times in each month. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of London, of the value of £297, in the patronage of the Principal and Fellows of Brasenose College, Oxford. The church, which is of the time of Henry VII., is dedicated to St. Mary, and stands in the centre of the road. The oldest portions of the building are the tower and chancel, which are in the Tudor or perpendicular style; the nave appears to have been repaired and altered at a later date. It contains a neat and unusual specimen of a waggon-roof, which was covered up by a flat ceiling, from 1701 to 1844. The upper part of the tower, which is low, was rebuilt about 1829, being finished with battlements, an octagonal tower at one corner, and two illuminated clocks. There is also a district church at Old Ford, the living of which is a perpetual curacy, value £200, in the gift of trustees. The church, which was erected in 1857, is dedicated to St. Stephen. A parsonage and schools have recently 1863) been built in connection with this church and district. The Wesleyans have built an elegant school-chapel in this neighbourhood, preparatory to opening a chapel of considerable pretensions in the Bow-road. Here are also chapels belonging to Baptists and other Dissenters. The Independent chapel is a neat building, in Harley-street. The charitable endowments of the parish are very considerable. The principal foundations are-the free school, founded by Sir John Jokes in 1613; the school endowed by Prisca Coburne in 1701, the revenue of which is now about £250; almshouses, founded by Sir J. Jolles, and those established by the Drapers' Company.

[Description(s) from "The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland" (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]
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