I often wander around London, wondering what the significance of the street names, monuments, buildings and parks are. There are so many nooks and crannies and never-ending numbers of amazing sounding names and places…there’s a sense of there being a story behind every little thing you see.
On Saturday I was in Foyles on the Southbank and I found the book ‘I Never Knew That About London’ by Christopher Winn. I love books. And I really love THIS book. It is packed with nuggets of information that make you go ‘No!’ and ‘I don’t BELIEVE IT!’ and ‘HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT?’ (Sorry – it’s that capslock thing again. Can’t stop it once I get going.)
Here is one of my favourite examples..
London Bridge is where London began – the first bridge was built in around (wait for it) AD 52 by the Romans. It was made of wood and so was pulled down and rebuilt a couple of times and in 1014 (beep beep – that is nearly 1000 years ago) the bridge was pulled down by boats being tied to it and then sailing away down the river.. and this is what gave rise to the song ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’.
I find it extraordinary that a little song that was devised nearly 1000 years ago is same song I used to sing while learning to French skip on elastics in my primary school. I have Saxon King Ethelred the Unready to thank for that, apparently.
I also loved learning that the British custom of keeping to the left had developed from jousting when competitors needed to keep their javelin or sword hand free. The reason that people drive on the right in France is because Napoleon was left handed! Badaboom!
This beautifully illustrated book is brimming with stories and snippets providing a spellbinding insight into what has shaped the amazing city of London.
I looked up Notting Hill, where I live, and discovered that Virgin Records began on Portobello Road, the local St Mary Abbot’s Church has the highest spire in London and Jimi Hendrix died in Lansdowne Crescent in 1970.
Well, I never knew that.