SALON NO.105: Cockney
Beyond Bow Bells

7.00pm Thursday 27th July 2023

The Horse Hospital

Admission: Tickets £8.00/ £10.00 in advance only HERE

Join historians STUART FREEDMAN and SIMON ROPER as they explore a particularly and peculiarly London legacy.
Stepping aside from the music hall, Bow bells, heart of gold cliches, what does ‘Cockney’ mean ?

Photographer and cultural historian STUART FREEDMAN takes a deep dive into that most cockney of culinary emporiums, London’s fading eel, pie and mash shop.

His ground breaking survey The Palaces of Comfort and Consolation with his poignant, evocative images is the first academic work around the shops and their changing cockney identity 

These disappearing spaces, traditionally decorated with ornate Victorian tiling, hold within them the memories of a rich largely undocumented cultural heritage of generations of working class Londoners. Stuart will explore the history and legacy of their cultures.
In 2020, digital historian and linguist SIMON ROPER created a video in which he reconstructed the development of the 'cockney’ accent from 1340 to 2006, voicing men from 12 generations of the same imaginary family, speaking at 60-year intervals. It has been viewed over three million times gaining the attention of academics around the world.

Drawing on his research into rhyming in Renaissance sonnets, and their parallels across German and Dutch, Simon will explore the evolution of cockney dialect - beyond the cliches of rhyming slang - particularly as it appears in Dickens’ works.


Dr STUART FREEDMAN is a photographer and writer. Raised in Hackney in the 1970s he has been, for almost thirty years, a photojournalist working mostly in the Global South on stories from Albania to Zambia. His last book, The Englishman and the Eel (Dewi Lewis, 2017) was an attempt to revisit his past through the changing landscape of the city’s eel, pie and mash shops.

SIMON ROPER studied archaeology but became interested in dialects as a teenager, when he started to notice the ancient words and inflections preserved in the speech of his Cumbrian grandparents. He maintains a widely followed YouTube channel where he talks about historical linguistics and other areas of anthropology.

Contemporary images courtesy of Stuart Freedman

Our home, THE HORSE HOSPITAL, is a unique Grade II listed not for profit, independent arts venue within the only existing unspoilt example of a two-floor, purpose-built stable with public access in London. 

Built in 1797 by James Burton. the shell is constructed with London Stocks whilst the interior features a mock cobbled re-inforced concrete floor and ramps with slats to prevent the horses from slipping. Each floor has 5 cast iron pillars and several original iron tethering rings.