The term ‘Cockney’ has long been used to describe those who come from London’s famous East End, with the Kray twins arguably the most famous of Cockney villains. However, in its earliest form, being a Cockney did not necessarily mean that you were from London at all.
Originally, Cockney was used describe all city-dwellers before being narrowed down to Londoners specifically. Eventually, by 1600, the term was refined to East Londoners and thus became the image of Cockneys that we are familiar with today.
As well as rhyming slang, Cockneys and the East End as a whole have truly left their mark on British history, making a tour of the East End an essential part of your trip to the capital.
Faces of the East End
Over the years, the East End has seen a number of notorious characters walk its streets, but perhaps none more so than the Kray twins, who had a stranglehold on East London in the 1960’s. However, it can be argued that the notoriety of the Krays pales in comparison to the events that unfolded under nightfall on Whitechapel in 1888. Jack the Ripper killed at least five women, toyed with the police and was never brought to justice.
While the East End has certainly seen its share of villains, it has not been all doom and gloom on this side of the capital with a number of heroes stemming from Cockney speaking areas. Beloved poet John Keats, England’s World Cup-winning manager Sir Alf Ramsey and king of silent movies Charlie Chaplin all were born in the East End. Find out more on our Heroes and Villains London Tour.
Take in the History on an East End Walk
For more than four centuries, ‘Cockney’ has been used to describe the working class of London’s East End, during which time numerous stories have been written just waiting to be told. Whether you want to know more about the history of Ronald and Reggie, the Kray twins, the Whitechapel murders or test your nerve on a ghost walk, we have the tour for you.
At East End Tours, we host a number of different tours allowing you to uncover London’s dark and storied past. For more information on how you can book your walking tour, please fill out our contact form and a member of our team will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.