The Carmelite Café is a long way from Elsinore, in a part of East London that may have been familiar to Shakespeare but one he would struggle to recognise now. (And no, that's a different Stratford.)
Bow has been the victim of some vicious urbanization; any romantic notions of cockney sparrows, Bow Bells and St Clements are dashed by the heavy tread of regeneration, the need for new housing and Tesco Metros. But do some exploration on foot and you’ll find clues to the past. The original Bow Church is still there, albeit surrounded on all sides by fast moving traffic, and St Clements stands in derelict splendour. The Bryant and May Match Factory, scene of Annie Besant’s matchgirl strike, has been sensitively restored. And the Carmelite Nunnery now houses Art galleries and this great little café. Bow’s history hasn’t vanished – it’s just kind of hiding.