Some legends and their critical analysis.
There are 15 known important equestrian monuments in London. Kings, commanders and other important persons. It is quite common to believe that the manner of death of the depicted person can be told by the position of the horse. If the horse has one leg raised, the rider was wounded in battle and later died as a result. If two legs are in the air, then the depicted person died directly in battle. However, it turns out that this is often not the case, at least for London's equestrian monuments. Below I name these, their location, the number of raised legs in square brackets and indicate whether the guess was correct.
There are around 60,000 wild parrots living in South West London. Folklore claims that they originated from parrots kept by Jimi Hendrix. Since no one has been able to prove the opposite, then... maybe it was so?
There is also another option - that they came from the time when parrots were used in the filming of the film African Queen in 1951.
If you walk around Westminster, you will notice lampposts with two C's intertwined in opposite directions. It strongly resembles the Coco Chanel logo. And it is known that the Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, had an affair with Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel in the 1920s and 1930s. Did the duke really capture his affections on lampposts?
The legend is beautiful, but not really true. This CC actually stands for City Council.
Many tourists confuse the two bridges - Tower Bridge and London Bridge. Tower Bridge is so famous for its peculiar appearance that many people think it is called London Bridge. In fact, a rather plain-looking bridge with that name is located upstream. This bridge has been demolished and rebuilt many times. The last time this happened was in 1968, when the old bridge began to collapse under heavy traffic. The old bridge was dismantled stone by stone and was bought by the American Robert P McCulloch for over a million pounds. The bridge was rebuilt in Arizona. People say that an American mistakenly bought the bridge, thinking he was buying the Tower Bridge.
Nice legend, but not true. In fact, McCulloch still knew exactly what he paid his millions for.
It's a common saying that in big cities (including London) you're always only six feet away from the nearest rat.
Every big city has a lot of rats, and they are fought against. But this estimate is still greatly exaggerated. Experts suggest an average distance of 164 feet, which is about 50 meters.
It is said that in the 13th century a polar bear could be seen fishing on the River Thames.
Amazingly, this legend is true. The Tower once housed a mini zoo. The polar bear was given to King Henry III by the King of Norway. The bear was on a long chain and was sometimes released into the river to catch fish.
Between Shakespeare's Globe and Tate Modern is a house with a plaque: 'Here lived Sir Christopher Wren during the building of St Paul's Cathedral.' Indeed, from here it would have been good for the great architect to watch his masterpiece, an incredibly powerful and beautiful cathedral, being completed right across the river.
Unfortunately, that label doesn't tell the truth. The cottage on which the sign stands was completed in 1710, at a time when the cathedral was almost finished. The plaque probably comes from a house a little to the west, which was demolished around 1950.
Only three babies have actually been born on the London Underground, which is a bit surprising considering the millions who use the tube. The first child was born at Elephant & Castle station in 1924. It is said that the child was named Thelma Ursula Beatrice Eleanor, so the initials would be TUBE, which would allude to the Underground popular name.
Is not true. The child was named Marie Cordery and reportedly did not like Underground rides at all.
Such signs can be seen in many places in London. English humour?
Truly, nothing, good or bad, happened in the British Isles that day. Due to the calendar reform, the days between September 2 and 14 were missed. Nothing can really happen on a day that hasn't been.
It is widely believed that the Tower was an ugly place where many people were executed in the old days. As a prison, it was certainly an ugly place, but executions were rarely carried out there. Most executions were carried out in an area outside the fort. The most famous people who were actually executed inside the castle were the two wives of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard. The most executions took place in the 20th century, when 11 spies were shot, the last of them being the German Joseph Jakobs in 1941.
By the way, Rudolf Hess and Sir Robert Walpole (who later became Prime Minister) have also been stuck in the Tower (but left it alive).
When Hitler was about to conquer Europe, he certainly thought about where he would place his headquarters in London. Legend has it that the venue chosen was Du Cane Court in Balham. The block of houses is still there, and although it may look like an ordinary block of flats, it is an art deco masterpiece of its time. Rumours are perhaps fuelled by the fact that, with a very good imagination, the top view of the house may resemble a swastika and that this place escaped the bombings at a time when the neighbouring areas were heavily bombed. But Hitler is dead, and we can't ask him if he had this plan. Who knows...
Another version is that another building that Hitler really liked and wanted to live in was the Senate House.
There is a legend among the people that when Big Ben strikes 13 times, the four bronze lions in Trafalgar Square come to life. Whether to protect the people or to destroy them, it is different in different versions. Not very believable. If only because when Edwin Landseer created these statues, his "model" was an already dead zoo lion. :-)
UK laws are sometimes strange and if the king has ordered something, the order is in effect until he or a successor monarch revokes it. Here are some examples.
|Armour may not enter the Parliament building.||Yes, according to the law of 1313.|
|It is forbidden to die in the parliament building.||The legend is based on the fact that the deceased should then be given a state funeral. Actually, there is no such law.|
|It is forbidden to stick a stamp with the image of the Queen/King upside down on the envelope.||The Treason Felony Act from 1848 prohibits insulting the monarch, but according to the Post Office, the method of affixing the stamp does not qualify as such.|
|It is forbidden to stand closer than 100 yards (ca 91 m) to the reigning monarch without wearing socks.||There used to be some strange laws restricting dress, but they were repealed in the time of King James I.|
|A hard-boiled egg should not be broken by the sharp end.||King Edward VI established a separate law on stealing bird's eggs, but there is no known law on how to eat.|
|Being drunk in a licensed pub is punishable.||Yes, under the 1972 Act.|
|Firing a cannon closer than 300 yards (ca 0.27 km) from residential buildings is prohibited.||Metropolitan Police Act 1839|
|It is forbidden to beat a carpet or mat on the street.||But the doormat can be beaten before eight in the morning.|
|It is forbidden to ride drunk.||An 1872 act prohibits driving a horse, cow or steam engine while intoxicated.|
|A lady is not allowed to eat chocolate in public.||There is no sign of such a law.|
|It is forbidden to destroy or tamper with cash.||The ban on banknotes dates back to 1928. Since 1971 coins may be destroyed or processed only with a special permit.|
There are four pubs in Camden with the word "castle" in their name. These pubs are for certain ethnic groups:
There is a common legend (and often told by tour guides to tourists) that the pubs were established specifically to prevent different ethnic groups from clashing with each other. According to one version, they were workers from the construction of the Regent Canal (this canal is really nearby), another version is that they were railway workers.
A beautiful legend indeed, but too good to be true. These four pubs were built over a period of about 130 years. Some have changed the name, but until 1953, Windsor Castle only sold alcohol for takeaway (it's called "off licence"). These places may be national (has to be distinguished by something), but the legend of their conscious establishment at the same time is not true.