Three ladies ring out right ol’ welcome for London 2012 with Cockney ‘apeel’

The historic 700-year-old Bow church in London’s East End rang out a traditional Cockney welcome to athletes and visitors today when it joined hundreds of other churches and bell-ringers greeting the official start of the Olympics.

The new rector, mother-of-two Debbie Frazer, 53, was joined by newly-crowned Pearly Queen of Bow Vicky Groves, 32, and Tower Hamlets councillor Rania Khan—making it an all-woman ringing-out.

Pearly queen Vicky said: “We want everyone visiting London to have a proper Cockney welcome.

“We’re proud to be hosting the 2012 Games in the East End and want to make sure visitors have time to enjoy our amazing history and culture.”

St Mary’s parish church, founded in 1311, sits in the middle of the A11 Bow Road, officially declared ‘High Street 2012,’ at the point where it crosses the River Lea at Bow Bridge. It is within earshot of the Olympic stadium less than a mile away.

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Stratford-at-Bow, as it was known once, achieved notoriety in the Canterbury Tales when Chaucer joked about the Prioress who spoke French after the “school at Stratford-atte-Bow and ate daintily”—implying that she spoke with a proto-Cockney accent.

The church survived the Blitz when it received a direct hit, but the Bell Tower had to be rebuilt. The new bells were cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1949.

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