Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Isle of Dogs Becomes Canary Wharf

The Isle of Dogs is an area in the East End of London, opposite Greenwich home of the royal palace, Placentia, where the Privy Council met. Its is bounded on three sides by one of the largest meanders in the River Thames.

The first mention of the Isle of Dogs is in the ‘Letters & Papers of Henry VIII’ (2 October 1520). Brewer's 1898 Dictionary of Phrase and Fable says the name originates "from being the [kennel] of the greyhounds of Edward III" (1312-1377).

A play called The Isle of Dogs was written by Thomas Nashe and Ben Jonson and performed in 1597. It was immediately suppressed, with the playwrights and actors arrested. It appears the play satirized the Queen and/or Henry Brooke, the 11th Baron Cobham. No copy of the play is known to exist today.

The Isle of Dogs, which started out as a marsh, became a dock site for the West India Company, and then became the site of the highest concentration of council housing in England. Today it is best known as the location of the Canary Wharf office complex and One Canada Square, also known as the Canary Wharf Tower, the second tallest habitable building in Britain.

Canary Wharf is a major financial district, and one of the richest and most expensive locations in London, and yet it is just a stone's throw from Blackwall, which is the 81st most deprived ward in England (out of over 8,000).

Canary Wharf is named after the Canary Island fruit trade company that once had a major dock there. The Canary Islands themselves are Islas Canarias, derived from the Latin name Canariae Insulae, meaning "Islands of the Dogs".

In short, through an accident of history, Canary Wharf is located on, and named after, an "Isle of Dogs".


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