London is rife with culture and history every way you turn. Each of the boroughs have a different story to tell, from centuries gone or from the last decade.
We’ve compiled some of our favourite London gems from the past and present you can delight your friends with, or wow them over a pint at your favourite London watering hole.
1. Despite popular belief, it’s not against the law to die in the Houses of Parliament
This is a bit of an odd one to start with, but Britain sure love their quirky and weird laws! The history of where this rumour came from exactly is unclear, but according to gov.uk:
‘The issue of dying in Parliament appears to arise from the idea that anyone who dies in a Royal Palace is eligible for a state funeral. We have not been able to trace any such law, and neither have the House of Commons authorities.’
2. There is one road in London where you have to drive on the right, which is of course the wrong side of the road in Britain!
Britain is well-known for going against the grain when it comes to driving – we drive on the left, which is the opposite to the 66% of countries which drive on the right. However, if you find yourself driving to the Savoy theatre, you’ll drive on the right.
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3. Big Ben is not actually called Big Ben
It’s the most photographed clock on the planet, but its actual identity is shrouded in miscommunication and lack of knowledge. It is supposed to go by the name The Clock Tower, and it’s the bell inside that is called Big Ben. And in case you were wondering, its chime is in the key of E.
4. The London Underground could have been water-based
No list of fun London facts would be complete without a mention or two of the tube. When the London Underground was first planned, engineers suggested filling the tunnels with water and using barges to float people from station to station, or using an army of horses to tug the carriages around in the dark. Luckily, they decided to opt for trains.
You can find great amazing foodie spots all over London at each tube spot, with Indian Afternoon Tea rising in popularity towards the more central tube stops, too.
5. Feeding pigeons in Trafalgar Square is banned
Trafalgar Square was once well-known for accommodating thousands of feral pigeons, which tourists regularly fed or posed with. In 2003, London Mayor Ken Livingstone prohibited feeding them or selling feed near the square. He even went as far as using a hawk to keep them at bay, which actually turned out to be successful.
6. Aldgate Station has 1,000 bodies buried underneath it
Now onto the more macabre parts of the list… 1,000 bodies apparently lie under Aldgate station. Rescuers most likely buried them there in large numbers after the Great Plague.
The Great Plague killed approximately 25 million people, which was about a third of the entire population of Europe in the 15th Century! This especially affected London because of the slim streets and absence of good sanitation.
During this time, men known as Searchers shouted out ‘Bring out your dead’ through the summer of 1665. They then carted away all of the dead bodies, and threw them in mass burial pits. Some of which Londoners are discovering to this day!
7. There were only six deaths in the Great Fire of London
Still sticking with the macabre (but it’s the last one, we promise), The Great Fire in 1666 devastated London, reducing masses of the city to ruins. However, a slight silver lining was that the verified death toll was only six people. However it’s worth noting that the real number is unknown, as many more died from indirect causes.
Monument, the 203ft stone pillar located 203ft away from where the fire first broke out, commemorates the victims. Located on Philpot Lane, you can visit the smallest statue in the city – it’s of two tiny mice eating cheese, and is dedicated to two builders who fell during construction of The Monument after an argument over a missing sandwich, that they blamed on each other but was in fact the fault of a mice infestation.
8. Arsenal are the only football team in London to have a tube station named after them
Londoners LOVE their football, with some of the country’s top clubs calling the city their home, such as Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspurs and West Ham.
Interestingly though, Arsenal remain the only team in the city to have a tube station named after them, and not the other way around. The station was originally called Gillespie Road, but was renamed in 1932 after the team moved from Woolwich to North London.
9. More than half of the London Underground network in fact runs above ground
Another tube fact for you that blows the minds of both London locals and tourists alike. Nearly 200 miles of the total 250-mile network is open to the elements, with the majority of tunnels concentrated in the centre of the city, handy for the best Hotels in London.
This means that a staggering 79% of stations along the network are in fact above ground! According to TFL, the most popular station is Waterloo, which sees 100.3 million passengers each year, and an incredible 1.265 billion people use the London Underground every year!
10. If the London Eye was unrolled it would be more than 3.5 times the length of a soccer pitch
The London Eye is one of the most iconic components of the London skyline. As well as being absolutely ginormous, as our fact shows, it’s interesting to mention that the London Eye was not the first big wheel in London. In fact, The Great Wheel earns this coveted title. This wheel was built in 1895 for the Empire of India Exhibition. It was then unfortunately demolished in 1907, 91 years before construction began on the London Eye.