10 fun facts about London they didn’t teach you at school

Esther Plant


London is far more than red buses, Big Ben, and afternoon tea. Beyond its iconic landmarks lie a treasure trove of intriguing facts waiting to be uncovered. So get ready to be amazed as we reveal some lesser-known fun London facts that may just leave you seeing this fascinating city in a new light.

Without further ado, here are our top 10 facts about London:

1. The Great Stink

Firstly, picture this – it’s the summer of 1858, and London is engulfed in an unbearable stench. This foul-smelling era, aptly named “The Great Stink,” was caused by the River Thames, which served as an open sewer. The stench was so potent that it prompted the British government to embark on the construction of the city’s intricate sewage system, led by visionary engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette.

2. Green spaces galore

Despite its reputation as a concrete jungle, London boasts an impressive array of green spaces. In fact, approximately 47% of Greater London is green space, including eight Royal Parks and countless gardens, providing residents and visitors alike with ample opportunities to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

A bridge over a lake in Hyde Park in London, one of London's many green spaces

3. The London Stone

Tucked away inconspicuously on Cannon Street, the London Stone is steeped in mystery and folklore. Believed to have been a marker for the city’s limits during Roman times, this unassuming stone has endured centuries of urban development and is said to possess mystical properties, with legends suggesting it holds the key to London’s prosperity.

4. A city of languages

London is a melting pot of cultures and languages, with over 300 languages spoken within its diverse communities. When you step onto the streets of London, you’ll hear a symphony of accents and dialects reflecting the city’s rich tapestry of heritage and immigration.

5. The Tube’s hidden art

Beneath the bustling streets of London lies a subterranean art gallery waiting to be explored. The London Underground, affectionately known as the Tube, is adorned with an eclectic mix of artworks, from intricate tile mosaics to contemporary installations. As well as offering an immersive cultural experience, these displays transform mundane commutes.

6. A river of secrets

The River Thames has borne witness to centuries of history, its murky depths concealing a wealth of secrets. Additionally, from Roman artefacts to medieval treasures, the Thames has yielded an archaeological treasure trove. These finds offer a glimpse into London’s storied past uncovered by each ebb and flow of the tide.

The River Thames and the Houses of Parliament as seen from the London Eye

7. The Monument to the Great Fire

Standing tall amidst the city skyline, the Monument to the Great Fire of London serves as a poignant reminder of one of the city’s most devastating events. Initially erected in 1677, this towering stone column commemorates the Great Fire of 1666. Famously, this fire razed much of medieval London to the ground, shaping the city’s architectural landscape for centuries to come.

8. A city of firsts

London has been at the forefront of innovation throughout history, boasting an impressive array of “firsts.” Furthermore, from the world’s first public zoo, London Zoo, to the establishment of the first public flushing toilet at the Great Exhibition in 1851, London has consistently pushed the boundaries of ingenuity and creativity.

9. The Seven Noses of Soho

Embark on a whimsical scavenger hunt through the streets of Soho, and you may stumble upon a peculiar sight – the Seven Noses of Soho. These sculptures, created by artist Rick Buckley in the 1990s, are said to symbolise surveillance in the modern age, adding a playful touch to the vibrant streets of London’s West End.

10. The Magnificent Seven

Lastly, London is home to seven magnificent Victorian cemeteries, collectively known as the “Magnificent Seven.” These sprawling necropolises, including Highgate Cemetery and Kensal Green Cemetery, are not only final resting places for the departed but also serve as serene havens of architectural splendour and natural beauty, offering a tranquil retreat from the urban hustle and bustle.

To conclude, London truly is a place like no other, and every corner holds a new adventure. We hope these 10 interesting facts about London, England inspire you to look a little deeper next time you visit. From hidden gems to iconic landmarks, London never ceases to surprise and delight. So, whether you’re a seasoned Londoner or a first-time visitor, prepare to be enchanted by this dynamic city.

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