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London History

20 Fascinating Facts About Big Ben We’ll Bet You Never Knew

How many Big Ben facts do you know?  If you’re any kind of Anglophile, or a Londoner yourself, you’ll know what the Houses of Parliament’s clock tower looks like, and you will probably have heard it chime too. What else is there? Well, how about Big Ben’s history, and how Big Ben got its name? …

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Cockney Rhyming Slang 101: Words and Phrases to Make You Sound Like the Real Deal

From Eastenders to Ray Winstone, nothing is more London than cockney rhyming slang.  Some theories on cockney rhyming slang’s origins include it being a game, a code, or a tricksy way to confuse non-locals. It certainly achieves that a lot of the time! Find yourself confused when you hear cockney phrases? Don’t know your pipe …

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The Hidden Secrets of The K2 Telephone Boxes at Burlington House

Few iconic designs shout London as much as the K2 Telephone Boxes.  Created to replace the unpopular Kiosk No 1 (K1) boxes commissioned by the General Post Office in 1921, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s iconic design was submitted to and the eventual winner of a competition held by the Royal Fine Arts commission in 1924.  …

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So… Why On Earth Are There So Many Parakeets in London?

No doubt you’ve seen them darting across London’s skies. A flash of bright green splitting through the air, quickly followed by another and another. It used to be that the most exciting colour you’d see on a bird was the red plumage on an aggressive robin, but that was before a band of rose-ringed parakeets …

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The Secret Art Nouveau Memorial to Queen Alexandra in St James’s

Hidden in plain sight across the road from St James’s Palace, the Queen Alexandra Memorial is an elaborate memorial commemorating the much-loved wife of King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra of Denmark.  Queen Alexandra Memorial  Located in the garden wall of Marlborough House, the house in which Alexandra and Edward lived until he was crowned king …

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Brutalist Beauty: The Alexandra Road Estate

The Alexandra Road Estate (officially the Alexandra & Ainsworth Estate) winds alongside Camden’s railway line, a swooping swish of striking architecture and intricate design that reflects Brutalism’s utopian vision.  It was conceived in an age of hope, when public sector housing wasn’t a bunged-in afterthought of poor doors and cramped rooms, but at the cutting …

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The Hardy Tree – Discovering the Secret of St Pancras Old Church

The Hardy Tree is one of London’s stranger sights.  After all, it’s not every day that you come across a tree ringed by old gravestones, neatly arranged concentrically, radiating from the tree’s trunk.  Curious? I’d be surprised if you weren’t.  What’s the story behind the Hardy Tree? Why is it called the Hardy Tree? I …

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St James’s Palace: The Royal Palace You Never Knew About

Did you know that just around the corner from the Georgian monstrosity that is Buckingham Palace (IMHO, too blocky, no elegance), there’s another palace that not that many people have even heard of?  St James’s Palace is a royal palace in St James’s / Mayfair dating all the way back to the Tudor times. In …

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Brixton Windmill – South London’s Hidden Gem

Are you ready to discover the Brixton Windmill?  I’ll let you in on a little secret – not even many locals living outside of its immediate vicinity know about this unusual landmark that serves as a reminder of the area’s former agricultural past.  Venture away from Brixton station, past a small row of shops at …

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Woburn Walk: A Pocket of Georgian London in Bloomsbury

Woburn Walk is a gorgeous pocket of Georgian London you can still see in Bloomsbury today.  There aren’t many bits of King’s Cross that feel beautiful but you’ll certainly find one pocket of pretty at Woburn Walk – a pedestrianised street just across the road on the Bloomsbury/ King’s Cross divide across from Euston Station. …

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