20 Bites of London Trivia

  1. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Houses of Parliament are officially known as the Palace of Westminster and it is the largest palace in the country.
  2. It is illegal to die in the Palace of Westminster.
  3. Big Ben is the bell, not the clock tower. Its chime is in the key of E.
  4. Unusual street names in London include Ha Ha Road in Greenwich, Hooker’s Road in Walthamstow, Quaggy Walk in Blackheath, and Cyclops Mews and Uamvar Street in Limehouse.
  5. Great Ormond Street Hospital, off Russell Square, owns the copyright to Peter Pan and receives royalties from all associated works and performances. Author J.M. Barrie — who had no children himself — gifted the rights to the hospital in 1929.
  6. Trident Studios, off Wardour Street, is where The Beatles made much of the White Album and David Bowie recorded Ziggy Stardust.
  7. Until 1994 there were no “Road”s in the City of London, and now there’s only one, Goswell Road, which became part of the Square Mile in 1994 after boundary changes. There are plenty of Lanes, Streets, and Ways, but public paths weren’t generally referred to as roads until the 16th century.
  8. PENTAX ImageHitler wanted to dismantle Nelson’s column and rebuild it in Berlin.
  9. Before the statue of Nelson was placed on top of the 17-foot-tall column in Trafalgar Square in 1842, 14 stone masons had dinner at the top.
  10. The Queen’s Remembrancer is the oldest continually existing legal post in the England and Wales. He presides over ceremonies that sound like they’re from Lord of the Rings such as the Trial of the Pyx, where 26 goldsmiths are sworn in to weigh coins from the Royal Mint.
  11. More than 1,000 bodies are buried underneath Aldgate station, in a plague pit built in 1665.
  12. Only two Tube stations have all five vowels in their name: South Ealing and Mansion House.
  13. London buses were not always red. Before 1907, different routes had different-coloured buses.
  14. Until 1910 you could walk across the walkway at the top of Tower Bridge. It was shut “due to lack of use” but also allegedly because it had started to become popular with prostitutes.
  15. Harrods sold cocaine until 1916.
  16. The last person to be executed at the Tower of London was German solider Josef Jakobs in 1941.
  17. Underneath the Ministry of Defence’s Main Building in Whitehall is Henry VIII’s wine cellar.
  18. If you see someone on a scooter with a fluorescent jacket and a large map, it could well be a prospective cabbie studying for the Knowledge exam. It normally takes between two and four years to learn it fully.
  19. Among the many things Londoners have left on the Tube are a samurai sword, a stuffed puffer fish, a human skull, and a coffin.
  20. The reading room at the British Museum is where Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital in between bouts of getting very drunk and asking Friedrich Engels to lend him more money.

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