Some Oddities of London

Here are a few strange things you may or may not know about London, from a 1951 Guide Book that I have.
I have added some extra info in Pink for you…….

The statue of George IV in Trafalgar Square shows the king without boots or spurs, riding a horse without saddle or stirrups.

On the floor of the entrance hall of the National Gallery is a mosaic of Greta Garbo.

On October 23rd, 1843, a few days before the statue of Nelson was erected, 14 persons ate a rump steak dinner on the top of Nelson’s Column.

When going through Burlington Arcade, you are not allowed to run, whistle or sing, carry a large parcel, open an umbrella or wheel a pram.
Don’t be fooled by the inn sign of “The Civet Cat” which hangs at the corner of Kensington High Street and Church Street, it hangs over a bank. When the bank replaced the inn, the sign ­was retained at the request of the local council.

When the tower of St. Mary Abbot’s, Kensington, was built no aperture was made for the clock so it remains hidden from view though it can still be heard striking the quarters.

Every year the vicar of St. Bride’s, Fleet Street, has to pay ­one guinea to the Governors of Bridewell for permission to walkover, his own doorstep. The wall surrounding what was once the palace of Bridewell formerly ran along the line of the railings in front of the Vicarage in Bridewell Place.
In Cowcross Street, just off Farringdon Road, you will find the “Castle,” the only pub in the country which is also a pawnbrokers shop.

The portico of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, is only a sham, and the impressive door can never br used. Inigo jones designed it as the feature on the western side a proposed square, regardless of the fact that ‘the altar would to have to be at this eastern end of the church.
The clerical staff of Coutt’s Bank in the Strand are not allowed to wear moustaches

Savoy Court, Strand, is the only ­two-way street in London where it is legal to drive on the right.

Why does traffic entering and leaving the Savoy Hotel in London drive on the right?
  * FOR more than 100 years now vehicles, be they horse drawn or mechanical, have entered and left ‘Savoy Court’ on the right-hand side of the road. This is due primarily to the construction of the ‘court’. When approaching and leaving the hotel it is easier to do so while driving on the right-hand side of the road. Savoy Court is privately owned property. It is not a public thoroughfare as it leads only to the hotel itself. Therefore driving on the right-hand side of the road does not contravene British traffic regulations. Finally, it may be of interest to note that when being chauffeured in a horse-drawn carriage the lady or dignitary would traditionally sit behind the driver. By approaching the hotel on the right-hand side of the road, either the chauffeur or the hotel’s doorman was able to open the door without walking around the car. This would allow the lady to alight from the carriage and walk straight into the hotel.

      Rory Macfarlane, Press Office, Savoy Hotel, London WC2.
This letter was printed in the Guardian Newspaper.

In Cowcross Street, just off Farringdon Road, you will find the “Castle,” the only pub in the country which is also a pawnbrokers shop.
The Monument was intended by Wren to be a vast vertical telescope. The height (202 feet) being insufficient for focal length, the idea was abandoned.

The Monument stands as a memorial to the Great Fire of London.

It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and completed in 1677. It is the tallest single stone column in the world and contains a spiral staircase leading to a viewing platform from which you can see some remarkable views of the city. Sadly, until 1842 (when the viewing platform was railed in) the monument was a favourite place for suicides.

The Great Fire of London started at 2 am on September 2nd 1666 in a bakery in Pudding Lane, the distance in height eastward from the Monument (202 feet.) The fire burned for three days and spread over almost 500 acres, northeast as far as St Bart’s hospital.

The final toll was 9 lives lost (officially) and 87 churches and 13,200 houses destroyed.

In Wood Street, Cheap side, stands a plane tree that is worth its weight in gold. The ground on which it stands.cannot be built upon until it dies.
The Church of St. Andrew Under shaft got its name because it was once overshadowed by a maypole.
In Creechurch Lane is the shop of Davison & Newman who are the oldest tea merchants in the world. It was this firm who exported the tea to America which was dumped into Boston Harbour at the famous Boston Tea Party in 1773~the prelude to the War of Independence.
At the corner of Cock Lane and Giltspur Street, near Smithfield, is the figure of a fat boy, put there to mark the spot where the Great Fire finished, He represents the sin of gluttony which was supposed to have caused the fire because it started in Pudding Lane and ended at Pye Corner.

On the banks of the Thames you will find the “Mud-Larks.” Officially called foreshoremen, it is their job to push back into the Thames the mud which banks up on the shore when the tide ‘recedes, thus preventing the barges sliding off the mud-banks into the water.
An eighteenth century Thames-side ‘inn, “The ‘Spread Eagle” in Rotherhithe, is the only pub in London which is licensed to sell beer, wines and spirits, tobacco, and postage stamps.
The pillars in St. Mary’s Rother­hithe, are four complete trees, plastered to resemble stone.

Before the Quadriga was set up on the arch at the top of Consti­tution Hill, the sculptor, Captain Adrian Jones, and some friends had tea inside the horses.
You may take as many photo­graphs as you like in Hyde Park, but you must not use a tripod.

I wonder if all these ‘Oddities’ still apply today, 60 years later ?
My favourite of these has got to be Dinner at the top of Nelson’s Column !

Till next time then………………………..


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