Ah London, our great and wonderful capital filled with so many things to see and explore.
The Original Tour is the perfect way to experience London. The famous red open-top buses offer three routes as well as a number of free walking tours and a free fun Thames hop-on-hop-off river cruise pass where you’ll learn all there is to know about the city. Speaking of which, here are some bizzare facts to whet your appetite…
- The Fleet River – one of the capital’s many buried waterways – still runs under the cellars of the Cheshire Cheese pub on Fleet Street.
- It is illegal to die in the Palace of Westminster.
- Before the statue of Nelson was placed on top of the 17-foot-tall column in Trafalgar Square in 1842, 14 stone masons had dinner at the top.
- Sir Christopher Wren had originally wanted to put a stone pineapple at the top of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. There are pineapples on top of the two western towers. He saw them as “a symbol of peace, prosperity and hospitality”.
- London’s first traffic island was built on St James Street in 1864 by Colonel Pierpoint to aid him getting across the road. He subsequently died when he raced across the road to admire his invention and was run over by a cab.
- Apsley House was once the London home of the Duke of Wellington. Considering that Napoleon was his enemy on the battlefield, it’s surprising to find that one of the first things you see if you pay to go inside is a three and a half metre high naked statue of Napoleon, which belonged to the Duke of Wellington.
- It is rumoured that beneath Oxford Street is a series of deserted Victorian tunnels complete with a cobbled pavements and the facias of Victorian shops.
- In Buckingham Palace Gardens there is a mulberry tree dating back to the reign of James I who attempted to breed silk worms but had in fact planted the wrong type of mulberry.
- The statue of Achilles in Hyde Park was originally completely naked but then a fig leaf was added to save women’s blushes. The fig leaf has been chipped off twice and there is another in storage in case it’s stolen again.
- The Bank of England’s vaults contain something in the region of £156,000,000,000 worth of gold bullion. Strangely the Bank of England was founded by a Scot whilst the Bank of Scotland was founded by an Englishman. Think of all the PokemonGo coins you could buy!
- Both Bread Street and Friday Street are named after markets held there in medieval times. No prizes for guessing what was sold on Bread Street but on Friday Street is where you would have found a fish market, fish being what you had to eat on a Friday as meat was forbidden.
- The statue just before Westminster Bridge is of Boudicca, who was the Queen of the Celtic Iceni tribe at the time of the Roman occupation who in an uprising burned the Roman city of Londinium to the ground in AD 61. There is a myth that she is buried under platforms 9 and 10 of Kings Cross Station, surely inspiration for platform 9 3\4 from Harry Potter.
- London Bridge is rumoured to be haunted…people have claimed to see a woman in black roaming in the night.
Who ya gonna call?
- Buckingham Palace has its own police station.
- Down Street off Piccadilly is where you find one of London’s ‘lost’ Underground stations. Down Street Station was shut in 1932 and was used by Winston Churchill as a bunker until the completion of the Cabinet War Rooms.
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