London: 70 Amazing Facts
Without a doubt, London is one of oldest cities in the world! Therefore, it’s more jam-packed than a packet of Jammie Dodgers. Due to the fact that it’s crammed full of savoury (and bitter-sweet) history, architecture and culture…there’s no shortage of fun facts about London! So without further ado, here are 70 facts about London!
1. London’s population tips over 8 million. Therefore, it’s no surprise that jointly over 300 languages are spoken!
2. Big Ben is the name of the bell! It’s a mere part of the overall structure, named ‘The Elizabeth Tower’.
3. Cleopatra’s Needle is a time capsule! In 1838, a map of London, a copy of the Bible, some daily newspapers, a rupee and 12 photographs of the best looking English women of the time were placed underneath.
4. Aldgate Station has 1000 plague victims buried underneath it.
5. Cock Lane was the only street to be licensed for brothels in medieval times – who’d have thought?!
6. In 1952, a double-decker bus, was crossing London Bridge when it started to open. The driver accelerated (presumably also his blood pressure!) and he jumped a 3 foot gap. As a result, he was awarded £10 for his bravery.
9. To become a black-cab driver in London, you must master 320 basic routes, all of the 25,000 streets that are scattered within those routes, and about 20,000 landmarks and places interest within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. Easy…right?
10. Karl Marx drafted the Communist Manifesto in a room above the Red Lion pub on Great Windmill Street.
11. Spitalfields District was once called Lolsworth.
12. By comparison, the O2 arena is the largest structure of its kind in the world! Apparently, you could fit either the Statue of Liberty inside it (although, we doubt they’ve tried).
13. Originally, Sir Christopher Wren wanted to erect a pineapple made of stone at the top of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. At the present time, pineapples were viewed as “a symbol of peace, prosperity and hospitality”.
14. Underneath the Ministry of Defence’s Main Building in Whitehall is Henry VIII’s wine cellar.
15. Inside Hyde Park, there lives an entire pet cemetery! Yet, we’re sad to report it is no longer ‘active’.
16. Each year, Norway presents London with a Christmas tree to pop-up in Trafalgar Square. In this case, it’s for thanking London peeps for their assistance during World War II.
17. There is a “rain room” that makes rain fall everywhere in the room except the spot that you are standing.
18. In 1631, two London Bible printers had accidentally left the word “not” out of the 7thcommandment, which then read, “Thou shalt commit adultery.”
19. Shockingly so to us now, The Bedlam asylum was one of most popular tourist attractions of 18th century London. Specifically, visitors paid a penny to watch suffering inmates.
20. The first traffic light was installed in London in 1868. Unfortunately, one month later it exploded and injured a policeman.
21. According to the law, Royal Navy ships have to provide a barrel of rum when entering the Port of London. It’s worth mention that it’s not a law that is upheld, it is only honoured at the Ceremony of the Constable’s Dues.
22. During WWII, all venomous animals in London Zoo were killed in case they escaped during bombings and killed anyone.
23. Surprisingly, The Queen has to ask for permission to enter the city of London from the Lord Mayor: “The citizens of London, through the Corporation of the City, still retain their ancient privilege of being able to bar the Sovereign from entering their streets.”
24. Presently, more than a half of the London Underground is above the ground.
25. Apparently, not much has changed in 100 years: Traffic speed in central London is the same as the speed of horse-drawn carriages a century ago.
26. The high-level walkway of the Tower Bridge was pedestrian until 1910, it was closed as it became a gathering place for prostitutes.
27. The Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed four-fifths of the city and more than 13,000 medieval, Tudor and early-17th century buildings were lost. As a result, only a tiny proportion of pre-1700 London buildings and structures exist today.
28. Hyde Park is a whopping 142 hectares (350 acres) and with over 4,000 trees, a large lake, a meadow and ornamental flower gardens.
29. Currently, there are 8,600 buses in the whole fleet, operating on 700 routes, serving 19,000 bus stops.
30. In total, green spaces cover nearly 40% of Greater London, such as: parks, squares, public gardens and cemeteries. In summary, it covers 173 square kilometers (67 square miles).
31 .Despite its reputation as being a rainy city, London receives less precipitation in a year than Rome, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Naples, Sydney and New York City.
32. “Wimbledon” is the oldest tennis tournament in the world.
33. On October 17, 1814, a three-story-high vat of beer exploded inside a London brewery and unleashed a tidal wave of porter that killed eight people in the neighbouring apartment. Without a doubt, this is a very strange occurrence indeed!
34. In truth, there are about 10,000 urban foxes living in London.
35. Presently, an estimated half a million mice live in the London Underground.
36. “The Great Fire in 1666 devastated London. While the fire reduced large parts of the city to ruins, the verified death toll was only six people. However, the real number is unknown, as many more died from indirect causes”
37. The Romans who were responsible for the city we know today as London. They invaded Britain in 43 AD, and soon afterwards founded the city of Londinium. It is thought that the original city was small – about the size of Hyde Park!
38. The Houses of Parliament are officially known as the Palace of Westminster and it is the largest palace in the country. So far, it contains over 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases and 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) of passageways, which are spread over four floors.
39. The renowned children’s hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital, was gifted the copyright of Peter Pan by the author. J.M. Barrie – he had no children of his own so made sure that the hospital received royalties from all associated works and performances.
40. Due to a superstition that if all the ravens leave the Tower, the kingdom will fall, at least six ravens are kept in the Tower of London at all times.
41. Of course, the M25 is the largest orbital road in the world covering a distance of 122 miles.
42. We’re all familiar with the one-and-only icon, London Bridge. On the contrary, is is the third bridge to be called this! Firstly, London Bridge stood proudly 1209-1831, the second lasted until 1968 and the current London Bridge was opened in 1973!
43. The London Eye is 135 meters high and is tallest Ferris wheel in Europe. But, did you know that the number of capsules for represents the number of suburbs of London? Certainly, a fun fact to impress at dinner parties!
44. So, it turns out that two-thirds of London’s drinking water comes from the Thames…
45. Each week, the London Underground escalators travel the equivalent of double the circumference of the world.
46. In 1945, a flock of birds landed on the minute hand of Big Ben and put the time back by 5 minutes.
47. Covent Garden area is actually a spelling mistake, it should have been written as Convent Garden.
48. There are more than 17,000 music performances a year across London’s 300+ venues including the O2 arena – the world’s most popular music venue.
49. London dominates the UK visual arts sector, which accounts for 30% of the global art market.
50. 17. London has more than 800 bookshops and over 380 public libraries including the British Library, which holds the Magna Carta.
51. Henry III was given a polar bear as a gift by the King of Norway. He kept the bear in the Tower of London, chained up in reach of the River Thames so that it could swim and catch fish.
52. Without reservation, London used to have some rather crude street names. Sadly, the following no long exist: Pissing Alley, Shiteburn Lane and Stinking Lane.
53. Westminster Bridge is painted green to mimic the colour of the benches in the House of Commons.
54. In 2003, Mayor Ken Livingstone made it illegal to feed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square.
55. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not actually illegal to die in Houses of Parliament. However, it IS Against the Law to Wear a Suit of Armour in Parliament.
56. You can tell if the Queen’s at home in Buckingham Palace – if she is, it’s the Royal Standard that’s flown on the flagpole. The Union Jack is raised for the rest of the time.
57. The Shard is the tallest building in London. Constructed of over 11,000 panes of glass, it’s the perfect place to oversee the the city!
58. The door to the Abbey’s Chapter House is nearly 1,000 years old, therefore, making it the oldest Anglo-Saxon door in England.
59. The Barbican’s Conservatory Contains over 2,000 Species of Tropical Plants.
60. The London Underground genuinely has its own subspecies of mosquito culex pipiens molestus. It breeds all-year round, is cold intolerant, and bites rats, mice, and humans.
61. The Thames used to freeze over at host the ‘Frost Fair’ that featured food stalls, sideshows, and games such as ice bowling. This occurred from 1607-1814.
62. Every summer, a species of critically endangered European eels migrate up the Thames.
63. “At the traffic island at the junction of Charing Cross Road and Old Compton Street in Soho, look through the grates in the ground and you’ll see the century old sign of ‘Little Compton Street’ – giving you a glimpse into London’s Victorian past which is now partly buried underground.”
64. The Palace of Westminster has eight bars, , six restaurants, 1,000 rooms, 100 staircases, 11 courtyards, a hair salon, and rifle-shooting range.
65. Many playwrights and poets are buried at Westminster Abbey. The tomb of Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser is there and, according to historian Edward Camden, contains unpublished works by his admirers — possibly including Shakespeare — who threw poems into his grave as a tribute.
66. Unusual street names in London that still exist include Ha Ha Road in Greenwich, Hooker’s Road in Walthamstow, Quaggy Walk in Blackheath, and Cyclops Mews and Uamvar Street in Limehouse.
67. Two doors down at 25 Brook Street is where the composer Handel lived from 1723 to his death in 1759, and that flat has already been turned into a museum.
68. Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club on Frith Street was the site of Jimi Hendrix’s last public performance in 1970.
69. Trident Studios, off Wardour Street, is where The Beatles made much of the White Album and David Bowie recorded Ziggy Stardust.
70. Voltaire, Edgar Allen Poe, Ho Chi Minh, Mahatma Gandhi, Vincent Van Gogh, Sigmund Freud, and Hiter’s older half-brother all lived in London for a time.