15 Things You Probably Didn't Know About London

Discover London’s quirky facts and hidden secrets

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  • 20 August 2018
  • • 4 min read

London is a capital city full of mystery. You could visit every single museum or exhibition in London during a trip (and there are a lot), yet there's still so much more to the city that you probably don’t know about. Hidden secrets, subtle glimpses into London’s past and facts about the Underground that will have you baffled! Check out these crazy cool things about the English capital that even those who have lived there forever may not have known before…

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1. The Black Taxi drivers have insanely good memories

To become one of London’s famous black taxi drivers, they first have to pass a ridiculously challenging test of all the city’s routes: ‘The Knowledge’. This involves mastering 320 basic routes, 20,000 landmarks and over 25,000 streets!

2. The author of Peter Pan gifted the story's copyright to Great Ormond Street Hospital

The author, J.M Barrie, made the lovely gesture of gifting the rights of Peter Pan to London’s famous children’s hospital in 1929. Now, all the royalties from every related version goes to Great Ormond Street hospital.

3. There's a reason for the black mark on the clock over the Horse Guards Parade

King Charles I was executed at 2 o’clock on 30th January 1649 and if you look closely at the clock above Horse Guards Parade, you'll see a black mark by the II. This is to commemorate the time of his execution.

4. Over 1,000 bodies are buried beneath Aldgate station

A plague pit built in 1665 is the burial site of more than 1000 Londoners affected by the epidemic.

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5. The top deck part of Tower Bridge was originally a walkway

It closed in 1910 once it became a gathering place for prostitutes.

6. Covent Garden is a spelling mistake

Yup. It was supposed to be CONvent Garden because a convent market used to be held there.

7. The majority of the London Underground of actually above ground

About 55% of the tube network runs on surface level.

8. Every week, the London Underground escalators travel the equivalent of over two circuits around the world

That’s 49,802 miles. Every week!

9. Back in the day, Harrods sold cocaine

Up until 1916, it’s where all the locals used to go to get their fix! You’d never think it now.

10. The smallest house in London is a teeny tiny 3.5 feet wide

See the curved part of the red brick building, next to the white one? Yep, that used to be someone's house

Go and see it - it’s number 10 Hyde Park Place and is now a part of Tyburn Convent which is home to 20 nuns.

11. The shortest distance between two stations on the Underground takes just 20 seconds, costs £4.90, but is still one of the most popular journeys with tourists

Leicester Square and Covent Garden stations on the Piccadilly Line are only 260 metres apart. The tube journey costs £4.90 cash fare and yet it’s still one of the busiest journeys in the whole of London. It’s only a 5 minute walk!

12. St Paul's Cathedral was originally designed with a 60 foot stone pineapple dome on top

The designer did however get his way somewhat - have a look at the two western towers of the Cathedral, each have a golden pineapple sitting on top.

13. At the start of World War II, London Zoo killed every venomous animal they had

This was in case the zoo was bombed and the animals managed to escape into the city.

14. Green space takes up 40% of Greater London

This includes 3,000 parks which total 35,000 acres!

15. You can see the buried remains of a Victorian Street through grates in a road

At the traffic island at the junction of Charing Cross Road and Old Compton Street in Soho, look through the grates in the ground and you’ll see the century old sign of ‘Little Compton Street’ - giving you a glimpse into London’s Victorian past which is now partly buried underground.

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