My latest book, The New Savants, is based in London, a city with a wealth of history and intrigue. Here’s an interesting bit of research about 5 different secrets you might not know about England’s capital city.
As Britain’s capital city, London is always a hustling, bustling centre of entertainment and culture. The popular places that both locals and visitors frequent are all lovely but, like any other big city, London has its hidden treasures. These take the people away from the heart of its every day activities and into a world of quiet mystery and pleasure.
1. Little Venice
Taking its name from the romantic Italian city that it has many similarities with, Little Venice is located just north of Paddington. The pool that is the trademark of the area rests where Grand Union and Regent’s Canal meet. The canal runs through a small village which has a great variety of pubs, cafes and restaurants. In addition to eating, drinking and relaxing visitors have the option of taking a boat trip around the area. The canal runs both towards the centre of London or upstream, away from the city and into its quieter outskirts.
2. Camden Passage Antique Market
London is an old city and its glorious heritage can be found in the most unexpected places. Located in Upper Street Islington, this market was opened in the 1960s. It has a wide range of quaint shops which sell unusual gifts and souvenirs, both antique and modern. Visitors can also enjoy the funky music, wide variety of cuisine, and friendly atmosphere while spending a day browsing.
3. The Seven Noses of Soho
In 1997, the city of London began the installation of CC TV cameras in many public places. Some of its citizens felt that this was a violation of their privacy and artist Rick Buckley decided to launch a protest. He made casts of his nose and placed them almost directly under 35 landmarks, in and around Soho, in order to prove that the cameras wouldn’t be able to pick up all of his actions. In October 2011, Rick confessed to the media, and many of the noses were immediately removed. There are 7 which remain in Soho and one of the city’s urban legends is that anybody who can find them all will become very wealthy.
4. The Chelsea Physic Garden
In previous centuries most of the medicinal needs of the population were fulfilled by apothecaries, using mainly herbs and other plants. The Chelsea Physic Garden is the city’s oldest botanical garden and was first established in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries. The 4 acres that it occupies is covered with glass houses, rare medicinal plants and Britain’s largest olive tree.
5. The Whitechapel Bell Foundry
Big Ben is one of the most visited attractions in London, and is well over 150 years old. The bell that rings in its tower was made by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, a company which has been in operation for over 500 years and is the oldest manufacturing company in London. Its products have been installed in a variety of churches and landmarks worldwide, including the famous Liberty Bell in the United States. The Foundry is located in Aldgate East and visitors can purchase their own miniature version of their desired bell in the souvenir shop.