When I was growing up there was a nursery rhyme that nearly everybody knew. It went like this:
You owe me five farthings say the bells of St Martins
When will you pay me say the bells of Old Bailey,
When I grow rich say the bells of Shoreditch,
When will that be say the bells of Stepney,
I'm sure I don't know said the great bell of Bow.
Bells were a part of everyone's life just a century ago, as not everyone wore watches and people used the bells to keep an eye or an ear on time. All the London bells above were in action during my youth but I don't know if that's the case today as they no longer perform a useful funtion.
The bell of Bow also had one other important function and that was if you were born within the sound of it you were considered to be a Cockney.
Most Sunday mornings bells would ring out all over the country and I must say I miss the sound. Here is a one minute clip of what they were like - you can see the ringers too! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4onbsh1VNfM