London is one of the biggest tourist spots in the world, with millions of people visiting the capital from overseas every year. When you’re visiting the city, you don’t want to be wandering around clueless like all the rest of the tourists; you want to have a whole wealth of London knowledge that will help you fit in with the real Londoners. This handy list of London facts will keep you just an accent and a few rhymes away from being an authentic Cockney.
1. The Houses of Parliament are officially named the Palace of Westminster, which makes it the largest palace in the country.
2. Hyde Park is home to a pet cemetery.
3. The GDP of London is larger than several European countries (including Belgium and Sweden).
4. Sir Christopher Wren placed stone pineapples atop two towers at St Paul’s Cathedral as he saw the fruit as a “symbol of peace, prosperity and hospitality”.
5. The O2 Arena, previously called the Millennium Dome, is large enough to hold the Great Pyramid at Giza or the Statue of Liberty (but not at the same time).
6. Harrods, the famous London department store, sold cocaine until 1916.
7. Karl Marx’s famous work The Communist Manifesto was drafted in London while Marx was staying in a room above the Red Lion pub on Great Windmill Street.
8. Black cab drivers in London must pass a London geography test called The Knowledge. The test requires drivers to master 320 basic routes, all 25,000 streets within the routes, and about 20,000 landmarks and places of interest within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. Not surprisingly, the average time it takes to pass this test is 34 months.
9. Although buses in London tend to be red now, before 1907 each route had a different coloured bus.
10. There are several abandoned Tube stations dotted around London, and some of these have found new uses as filming locations or even bars!
11. Over half of the London Underground network actually runs above ground.
12. There’s only one Tube station that doesn’t contain any of the letters of the word “mackerel” in its name: St John’s Wood.
13. Arsenal is the only London football team to have a Tube station named after them. The station previously known as Gillespie Road was renamed in 1932 after the team moved to North London.
14. Blackfriars is the only train station to have entrances on both sides of the Thames.
15. The Queen’s Remembrancer is the oldest continually existing legal post in England and Wales, being created in 1154 and still being filled today. The post includes the overseeing of several archaic ceremonies, including the Quit Rents ceremonies and the Trials of the Pyx.
If you’re looking for a place to stay while you’re in London then look no further than us! Here at Swinton Hotels we’re one of the most welcoming, and yet cheap Kings Cross hotels around so we can certainly accommodate you during your trip. If you’d like more information, to check availability or to make a booking, contact us on 020 7837 1451 and a member of our friendly team will be happy to help.