Secret London: 10 Unknown Facts We Bet You Didn’t Know About London

Lucy Bloxham Lucy Bloxham

Secret London: 10 Unknown Facts We Bet You Didn’t Know About London

Yep, not even you Londoner. Cities Talking’s walking tour guide app celebrates London’s rich and dynamic history, and in acknowledgement of this, we wanted to relay unto you 10 facts we bet you didn’t know about our wonderful city. Aannnddd, this is just a mere taste of what is to come if you download Cities Talking – which also includes a constantly updated selection of restaurants, bars and local points of interest, as well MIND BLOWING facts. The app gives travellers control over how they explore a new city (in this case, London), offering GPS guided tours (so no roaming charges!) curated by well-known writers and voiced by local celebrities. Sound tempting? We thought so too…


1. London’s Trafalgar Square hosted the first mass public meeting of 7,000 suffragettes in May 1906. Five years later, the suffragettes returned to protest their lack of citizenship by avoiding the census taking place in homes across the country. The women scandalised society by walking in Trafalgar Square until midnight, then ice skating to dawn at the Aldwych ice rink. British women over the age of 21 were not extended the right to vote until 1928.

Trafalgar Square_photo credit 'Cities Talking'
[Cities Talking]

2. The stench of London’s River Thames was notoriously vile. In 1858, “the Great Stink” was so unbearable that the sittings at the House of Commons had to be abandoned. The rise in sewage and laundry waste carried into the Thames via the Fleet River actually killed off all the river’s fish, and consequently, all the birds that lived off them.

River Thames


3. The Mall was designed to look like an enormous red carpet rolling up to the Palace, where the ruling monarch of Great Britain resides. The Mall has been the sight of some of Britain’s biggest celebrations, from celebrations when Germany surrendered at the end of the Second World War, to celebrations of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee and to watch the now traditional kiss from the Palace balcony at a Royal Wedding.



4. Perched atop Trafalgar Square’s pedestals are a gigantic pride of bronze lions, erected in 1867. Together the columns cost about £46,000 – that’s around £2million in today’s money. The statues are of such psychological significance to Britain that Hitler’s first objective, once he’d successfully invaded, was to break up the statue and transfer it to Berlin.

Houses of Parliament (1)


5. As well as the River Thames, beneath the streets of London there are many subterranean rivers. Fleet Street is named after the River Fleet, the largest of the capital’s underground rivers, which flows into the Thames at Blackfriars Bridge.

London Fleet Street


6. London is home to the offices of the Observer newspaper, founded at The Strand in 1791, making it the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world. London is also the location from which the world’s first daily newspaper, the Daily Courant, was printed in 1702.



7. London in the Middle Ages was overcrowded, with open sewers and vermin. The Plague, or Black Death, tore through Europe every 15 to 20 years from the 1340s to the 1720s. By June 1665, the Black Death had taken hold of London where it ravaged the city until the following year wiping out around 100,000 Londoners – nearly a fifth of the city’s population.

Plague Pit London


8. St Martin-in-the-Fields church broadcast the first ever religious service. St Martin’s was built on the orders of – and paid for by – Henry VIII, who disliked seeing the funerals of ordinary subjects passing his palace at Whitehall.

St Martin in the Fields


9. The Church of St. Clement Danes, designed by the genius Christopher Wren in 1682, was made famous in the nursery rhyme “Oranges and Lemons say the bells of St Clements,” whose tune is still played by on the church bells today.

The Church of St Clement Danes


10. St Paul’s Cathedral, Christopher Wren’s most well-known masterpiece, is the only Renaissance Cathedral in England. It is also the longest and the largest of all the cathedrals, as well as being the only one which is domed. It is actually the second largest cathedral dome in the world, topped only by St. Paul’s in Rome.

St Paul's_photo credit 'Cities Talking'
[Cities Talking]

Featured Image Credit: London Study Story

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