London-Earthquake-Ruins-e1284690043612

Quaking London

Earthquakes were recorded in London in 1247, 1275, 1382, 1439, 1626 and 1750. In 1580 the last significant quake struck, which originated in the Strait of Dover. This tremor was so large that people watched in fear as two men who were sitting on cannons at Tower Hill, were thrown to the ground. The church bells in the City were all set off, a pinnacle fell off Westminster Abbey, two children died when a chimney stack collapsed and Thomas Grey, a City cobbler was crushed by falling masonry in Newgate Street.

London is overdue a major earthquake and according to Dr Roger Musson, of the British Geological Survey, a quake measuring 6.0 on the Richter Scale could be caused by a slip in a fault line running from Dover to the Rhine region of Germany. Even though London is not on a fault line a quake can strike at any time.  “All we can say is that something that has happened twice can, and probably will, happen three times.”

Now that the city is far more densely inhabited, fatalities would be higher and damage more extensive.
Scary stuff!

Image: http://www.clubdepensadoresuniversales.blogspot.co.uk

cabbie

Cabbie Rules

It is, in fact, illegal to hail a cab while it is in motion – you should go to a rank or a ‘place appointed’
A cabby is supposed to ask each passenger if they have a ‘notifiable disease such as smallpox or the plague’, as it is illegal to carry a sufferer.
It is also illegal for a cabby to carry a a rabid dog or a corpse, so it really is in the best interests of the cabby to ensure his passenger is not going to die in the cab.
It is also the cabby’s responsibility, not the passenger’s, to ensure nothing has been left in the vehicle.
The law required a cabby to carry a bale of hay on the roof of the cab to feed the horse. This law was only repealed in 1976. It is also no longer required to carry a bag of oats.
As a cabby was not allowed to leave his cab on the public highway, the driver was however allowed to urinate in public. He was required to urinate on the rear wheel of the vehicle, with his right hand placed on it. It is not clear how this law would’ve applied to women cabbies…..

London, Cleopatras Needle and the Embankment

London Time Capsule

Cleopatra’s needle, which stands on the banks of the River Thames is one of a pair that was erected in 1500BC, and stood in front of the temple of Heliopolis in Egypt, where Moses was born. It was offered by the Viceroy of Egypt to the British people in 1819 as ‘a worthy memorial of our distinguished countrymen Nelson and Abercromby’, after Nelson’s victory over the French in the Battle of the Nile in 1798. Due to an unfortunate chain of events, it took 70 years for it to finally arrive in London and sadly gained the distinction of being the first London monument to be hit in an air attack in World War I.  A bomb exploded near the plinth and one of the lions suffered shrapnel damage (which you can still see today).

But this monument holds a historic secret …. in its plinth is a time capsule which holds items such as Imperial weights and measures, four Bibles in different languages, a railway guide with timetables of the day and copies of newspapers from 1879, which was the year it was erected on the Embankment. It is also said to contain cigars, a gentleman’s lounge suit, the complete outfit a fashionable lady of the day would’ve worn, magazines of the day, popular childrens’ toys, a razor, twelve photographs of the most beautiful famous women of the time and a complete set of currency used throughout the Commonwealth ranging from a farthing to five pounds.

I often wonder what we would put in a time capsule to tell future genrations what we were about….!

 

Daffodil for a Prince

A brand new sturdy variety of daffodil was unveiled at the 2014 Chelsea Flower Show.

Georgie BoyThis bright yellow and white ‘Georgie Boy’ has been named in honour of the young Prince George of Cambridge.

George

Money raised from the sale of the daffodil bulbs sold at the flower show were donated to London’s Royal Marsden cancer hospital, which has a very special place in the heart of Prince William, HRH The Duke of Cambridge.  He is president of the hospital  – a position held by his mother,  Princess Diana, before she died in 1997.

The bulbs are currently available on  the Bulbs website, and money will continue to be donated to the Royal Marsden Hospital to support their wonderful work.

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Images: The Daily Mail

Charterhouse Executions

For an audio version of this legend:

Charterhouse Executions

In 1534 Henry VIII passed the Act of Supremacy, giving him the position of supreme head of the Church of England. This gave him ‘permission’ to divorce Catherine of Aragon. The Act of Succession put Anne Boleyn by Henry’s side as his lawful queen and any children she produced would be heirs to his throne.

All English subjects were required to swear the oath to accept these legal and ecclesiastic changes, but many devout Catholics were prepared to defy the king. Any of the king’s Catholic enemies who refused to accept these new laws, were declared traitors.

Charterhouse Monastery, the flourishing Carthusian monastery in central London, was home to a group of monks who did refuse to accept these new changes to the country’s laws. Prior John Houghton was the head of the monastery. His monks bravely refused to swear the oath outlined by the throne, and thus paid the ultimate price for defying Henry.

www.thelegendsoflondon.wordpress.comIn April 1535 ten of the monks at Charterhouse were taken to Newgate Prison nearby and then taken to the Tower of London. The legal process was speedy, and within three weeks they were tried, convicted and executed for treason. Eye witnesses reported that the monks were dragged out of the prison in their habits, and in front of a crowd of people at Tyburn they were hanged and cut down before they were dead. As their limp bodies lay on the ground, they were cut open, their hearts and bowels removed and burned. Their arms were torn off and their blood and flesh was smeared on the faces of the other victims. Their heads were finally cut off and their bodies quartered.

As Prior John Houghton was disemboweled, his dying words were uttered, “And what wilt thou do with my heart, O Christ?”. He was canonized in 1970 for being the first martyr of the Tudor persecutions. He is represented carrying a noose, or with a noose around his neck, carrying a heart.

Inside the walls of the court of Henry VIII, there was nothing but love and passion, but outside of the palaces there were horrific and tragic stories that remind us of the heartless acts committed in the soul pursuit of gaining a male heir for the Tudor dynasty.

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Image: http://www.saints.sqpn.com

Cheapside – The City Market

Cheapside has been the market and shopping centre of the City of London for centuries and was the main market place in the whole of London.

The word ‘cheap’ comes from the Anglo Saxon word to barter or ‘market place’ – “of good cheap” or “’tis good cheap” (being sold at a fair price).  The word evolved into the modern use of using it to express when something is inexpensive and today the word is no longer used to denote a market.

Many cities in the United Kingdom have a Cheapside or a Cheap Street.  Those towns or cities with the prefix of Chipping in their name, also refers to it being a market town.

www.thelegendsoflondon.wordpress.comStreet names running from Cheapside tell you where the cows were kept, bought and sold, or where the bread was made, or the wood was delivered. And to this day the City of London has the same street plan and the same street names, which dates back to medieval times.

The Market rights of the City of London were based on a charter granted by Edward III in 1327.  The charter did not allow for anyone to set up a rival markets within 6.6 miles of the City.  This was a reasonable distance a person walk to market with their produce, sell his goods and return home in the same day.

Today London has more than three hundred markets.  Many specialise in food, some in arts and crafts but many focus on funky fashion, exotic people and trendy places to be seen.

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The Savoy Hotel

In 1899 The Savoy Hotel opened in London. It was the first hotel in Britain to have electric lights and a lift! Cesar Ritz (of the Ritz Hotel who was later known as “hotelier to Kings and King of hoteliers”) was the first manager and his chef was Auguste Escoffier (which may be where we get the expression of ‘scoffing’ your food!).

Together they built up a clientele of the rich and famous and also created dishes they named after their guests. One of these was Peach Melba, which was made in tribute to the Australian diva of Covent Garden Dame Nellie Melba (she had adopted the name Melba after her hometown of Melbourne). Other famous guests have included Oscar Wilde, (who conducted his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas in The Savoy), Claude Monet (who painted his famous ‘Waterloo Bridge’ from a balcony at the hotel) and Fred Astaire (who danced on the roof of the hotel with his sister in 1923).

LON_SAVO-exter-3The forecourt of the hotel is also the only street in Britain where traffic drives on the right. This was because of the limited space in the courtyard, which did not allow for coachmen to keep to the left and still be able to pull up to the front doors smoothly.

After being closed for what seemed like decades and a £100 million restoration project, the Savoy reopened more splendid than before. According to its website “London will once again be itself as The Savoy dazzles”!

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Image source: www.hotel-fly-car.com