Bow was first recorded in 1177 as Stratford, and in 1279 as Stratford atte Bowe, to distinguish it from Stratford proper, on the opposite, east side of the Lea. It takes its name from the Old English “boga”, meaning bow, and referring to the arched bridge there over the Lea. The bridge was originally built by Henry I’s wife Maud in the twelfth century, to replace the crossing at Old Ford, first established by the Romans.
Bow Church was originally built as a chapel in 1311, and became a parish church, independent of St Dunstan and All Saints in Stepney, in 1719. It still stands to this day, the only surviving relic of a medieval village and centre of cottage industry (founded on milling).