London is a city with a deep dark history and with many secrets to tell… I’ve been doing a bit of digging and I’ve discovered some rather amazing facts… just call me Columbo.
How many of these little nuggets of truth did you know about?!
1. Big Ben is actually the name of the bell, not the clock tower. Its chime is in the key of E. Ding dong.
2. Cock Lane, near Holborn Viaduct, didn’t get its name due to any association with poultry, but because it was the only street to be licensed for prostitution in medieval times. There are other streets which had similar names that no longer exist… but they are too rude to write here.
3. Before the 17ft statue of Nelson was erected on top of the Trafalgar Square column in 1842, 14 members of the memorial committee who had commissioned the work held a dinner party on top of the 170ft-high plinth. Health and Safety wasn’t a familiar term then…
4. Only one British Prime Minister out of 51 who have held the office since 1751, has ever been assassinated – Spencer Perceval was shot at the House of Commons in 1812. I still don’t fancy the job though… just in case you were wondering.
5. More than 1,000 bodies are buried underneath Aldgate station, in a plague pit built in 1665.
6. Harrods sold cocaine until 1916. (Surely this has to be the best fact ever?)
7. Underneath the Ministry of Defence’s Main Building in Whitehall is Henry VIII’s wine cellar.
8. In a law passed in 1837, women are allowed to bite off a man’s nose if he kisses her against her will. (Noted.)
9. Cars are required by law to travel on the right-hand side of the road in Savoy Court – this was originally decreed by Parliament in 1902 so that theatregoers could decamp from their carriages directly into the Savoy Theatre. So very handy and considerate!
10. Brixton Market was the first market to have electricity in the country and as a result, stands on Electric Avenue.
11. Postman’s Park, behind Bart’s hospital, is one of London’s great hidden contemplative spots. It is a beautiful space and full of memorials to “ordinary people” who committed heroic acts…
12. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament. (I wonder what the punishment would be…?)
13. And finally, think before you pop that letter in the postbox – it is an act of treason to stick a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside down. Whether you are in London, or not.