Ten Strange London Facts

  1. Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospitals c.1833There are a dozen secret rivers flowing beneath London. One, the Effra travels under the Oval cricket ground.
  2. The actual City of London is only 1 square mile. Major roads such as Oxford Street, Piccadilly and Regent Street actually come under “The City of Westminster”
  3. Some 80,000 umbrellas are lost annually on the London Underground.
  4. In 1945, a flock of starlings landed on the minute hand of Big Ben and put the time back by five minutes.
  5. The statue of Handel in Westminster Abbey has someone else’s ear. The sculptor, Louis Francois Roubillac, thought that Handel’s ear, though without doubt musical, was rather ugly. So he used as a model the ear of a certain Miss Rich, which, though not at all musical, was sculpturally perfect.
  6. London’s first traffic island was put in St. James’s Street in 1864 at the personal expense of a Colonel Pierpoint, who was afraid of being run over on his way to his Pall Mall club. When it was finished, he dashed across the road to admire his creation and was knocked down by a cab.
  7. 5976378132_3506c0094b_oA huge Gothic edifice erected to the memory of Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria, is decorated with sculptures which reveal an extraordinary but quite unintentional set of coincidences. There are 61 human figures (Albert died in 1861); there are 19 men (Albert was born in 1819); there are 42 women (Albert died at age 42); and there are 9 animals (Albert had 9 children).
  8. Christ Church, Lambeth, has a spire decorated with stars and stripes. Half the cost of the church was borne by Americans, and the tower commemorates President Lincoln’s abolition of slavery.
  9. When New Scotland Yard was being built in 1888, the torso of a woman, headless and without arms, was discovered in the foundations. All the resources of the Criminal Investigation Dept. failed to find the murderer or the identity of the victim. And so Scotland Yard was built on the site of an unsolved murder.
  10. In the floor of Westminster Abbey is a tiny stone marking the burial place of the poet Ben Jonson. He was too poor to pay for the normal grave space, so he is buried standing up.

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