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Fascinating facts about London

london skylineOne of the most visited cities in the entire world, London has culture, history and style in abundance. Whether you live in the ‘Big Smoke’ or you’ve always dreamed of visiting, here we bring you a collection of 34 of the strangest and most fascinating facts about the city that we guarantee you won’t have heard anywhere else.

1. Believe it or not, the name Covent Garden is actually a spelling mistake. The area was formerly the market garden of a convent.

2. If you’ve ever felt like the downwards escalator on the tube is like a slow descent into hell, you’re not alone. Religious Churchmen of the Victorian era were worried that the building of the London Underground would “disturb the devil”.

3. London’s Soho was named after a medieval hunting call used by James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, when calling for his men at the Battle of Sedgemoor on 6 July 1685.

. You’d never guess that the traffic island at the junction of Marble Arch and Edgware Road hides such a dark past. It’s the site of Tyburn Tree, London’s infamous public gallows where an estimated 50, 000 people have been hanged.

Tyburn Tree, London. On March 8th 1750, an earthquake struck the streets of London. Residents are said to have seen houses fall into the ground beneath them and fish shooting out of the River Thames.

6. It’s more than just train tracks and rats running under London’s streets; there are actually many hidden waterways. The Fleet River still runs from below the cellars of the Cheshire Cheese pub on Fleet Street.

7. Electric Avenue was Britain’s first electrified market street back in the 1880s, as part of Brixton Market. The Avenue is, of course, also the namesake and setting of the Eddy Grant song.

8. Watch your step at Aldgate – the tube station is built on top of a plague pit where some 1, 000 bodies were buried during the Bubonic Plague outbreak of 1665.

9. Aldwych tube station was closed in 1994 and has since been used as a film location for films such as Atonement, Superman IV and Patriot Games. It also features in The Prodigy’s famous “Firestarter” music video – twisted!

10. Scientists discovered a new species of mosquito on the London Underground. They named it Culex pipiens f. molestus and found that it survives off of the blood of rats, mice and maintenance workers.

11. There’s a huge military refuge under the streets of Whitehall. The entrance is at the telephone exchange in Craig’s Court.

12. Despite the great Fire of London destroying 80% of the city, there were only six recorded deaths. But don’t breath a sigh of relief yet because it’s long assumed that any deaths of the poor or middle-class weren’t recorded and also that many bodies were simply burned to nothing.

13. Continuing on from this, seven people died by falling or jumping from the Fire of London’s commemorative monument. More than the recorded deaths from the fire itself.

14. The first performance of a Punch and Judy show at Covent Garden was recorded in Samuel Pepys’s diary on 9 May, all the way back in 1662. It’s believed that a similar puppet show has been seen there every year since.

15. The nursery rhyme Pop Goes the Weasel refers to the act of pawning one’s suit after spending all one’s cash in the pubs of Clerkenwell.

16. Pubs such as the Fox and Anchor in Smithfield and the Market Porter in Borough are licensed to serve alcohol with breakfast from 7am. This isn’t for a swift one before work but instead, it’s traditionally to fit in with the hours worked by market porters.

17. The only true home shared by all four of the Beatles (besides a yellow submarine) was a flat at 57 Green Street near Hyde Park, where they lived in the autumn of 1963.

18. Want a witty oneliner for your gravestone? The famous Elizabethan actor Richard Burbage is buried in the graveyard of St Leonard’s, Shoreditch with a gravestone that reads “Exit Burbage”.

19.. Obviously fans of the multifunctional, Robert Hooke and Sir Christopher Wren built the monument to the Great Fire of London so that it was also a fixed telescope. What’s more, it was designed to study the motion of a single star.

20. London was the first city in the world to reach a population of more than one million, in 1811. It remained the largest city in the world until it was overtaken by Tokyo in 1957.

21. Postman’s Park, behind Bart’s hospital, is one of London’s great hidden contemplative spots. It is full of memorials to ordinary people who committed heroic acts and is famously featured in the film, Closer.

Postmans Park, London Elephant & Castle, London St Bride's Church, London

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