The detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is so renowned that we can visit his home located at 221B Baker Street in London’s Marylebone neighbourhood.
The Yeomen Warders, guards of the Tower, are amongst other tasks in charge of caring for six ravens that have taken up residence in the building. Legend has it that if the birds leave the building, the monarchy will collapse.
The Great Fire of London took place from 2 to 5 September 1666. The fire allegedly began at a bakery on Pudding Lane. The street still exists, and a plaque indicates the supposed location of this bakery. 80% of the city was destroyed by the fire. The official numbers indicate that there were only eight or 10 casualties, although there were likely several thousand victims buried beneath the ashes.
The London Underground is the oldest underground railway in the world. The first line debuted in 1863. Today there are 274 stations, including a number of ‘ghost’ stations that have either closed or never opened. Aldwych Station is one such abandoned station, not to mention a popular filming location and venue for a stylish night out.
On 18 October 1814, a vat of 610,000 litres of beer broke at the Meux and Company Brewery, causing the rupture of other vats. More than 1.5 million litres of beer poured into the streets, flooding the basements of poor families and drowning several people. The Dominion Theatre, located on Tottenham Court Road, now occupies the site of the former brewery.
In 1906, the London General Omnibus Company decided to stand out amongst its competitors with red vehicles. Red buses have symbolised London ever since. When the network was unified in 1933 with mostly red buses, the colour was preserved.
In the Middle Ages, ale was made at home by women. Certain houses known for the quality of their ale attracted other residents. These were called Public Houses. In 1393, Richard II ordered all Public Houses to hang a stick or branch above the front door. Some carved a piece of wood. Before long, the English Pub was born.
Since British passports are issued in Her Majesty’s name, Queen Elizabeth II does not have one. Other members of the Royal Family, however, do.
In London, haunted houses and other strange places are no longer recognised. That said, the prize for the most ghosts would go to the Tower of London, which is not surprising. Given the bloody history of this fortress, it is likely that Anne Boleyn, Margaret Pole, Walter Raleigh, Thomas Becket, Henri VI, Guildford Dudley and Jane Grey still wander the corridors of the Tower on certain days. The Tube has no shortage of ghosts, either. At certain stations, some may have crossed paths with Sir Winston Churchill, White Ladies and other anonymous figures.
London and New York are the most multilingual cities in the world. The people of London speak more than 300 different languages.
To get a taxi license in London, drivers must pass an extremely difficult text called the ‘Knowledge’. Candidates are asked to memorise at least 25,000 streets and approximately 50,000 places such as restaurants, hotels, hospitals and theatres. London’s taxi drivers have an actual map of the city in their minds.
The Fitzroy Tavern, a pub located on Charlotte Street, was a meeting place for artists and intellectuals at the beginning of the 20th century. Jacob Epstein, Nina Hamnett, Dylan Thomas, Augustus John and George Orwell are just a few of those who frequented the establishment.