Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The Isle of Dogs

The Isle of Dogs is a former island in the East End of London that is surrounded on three sides (east, south and west) by one of the largest meanders in the River Thames.
Why Isle of Dogs? The name was first recorded in 1588, but had been in use for some years before this. Brewer's 1898 Dictionary of Phrase and Fable attributes the name: "So called from being the receptacle of the greyhounds of Edward III." Some say it is a corruption of the Isle of Ducks, and that it is so called in ancient records from the number of wild fowl inhabiting the marshes. Other sources discount this and believe it might come from:
-the presence of Dutch engineers reclaiming the land from a disastrous flood;
-feral dog packs inhabiting the uncultivated marshland;
-the presence of gibbets on the foreshore facing Greenwich;
-a yeoman farmer called Brache, this being an old word for a type of hunting dog;
-Henry VIII kept deer in Greenwich Park. It is thought that his hunting dogs might have been kept in derelict farm buildings on the Island.
The reality is that the origin of the name remains an enigma.


James Higham said...

A doggy tale, in fact.

Violets new Vintage said...

I like the idea of the feral dogs is an intriguing one.