It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love London, and it’s also hard to find someone who doesn’t know some facts about London. While we could go on for days and days listing interesting pieces of trivia, here are our 7 favourite facts about London; hopefully there are a few here you haven’t heard before!
Facts about London
1. It’s against the law to die in the Houses of Parliament
Most people are not too concerned about the legalities surrounding their death, and much like the law that made suicide illegal before 1961 (why would you care?), this is a bit of a strange one. The reason behind this law is that the Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, are a Royal Palace, and anyone who dies there is entitled to a state funeral. This law was recently voted the most absurd in Britain, narrowly beating a Liverpool legislation that bans women from going topless in public, unless they work in a tropical fish store!
2. Great Ormond Street Hospital owns the rights to Peter Pan
One of our favourite facts about London: Great Ormond Street is possibly the best and most famous children’s hospital in the world. Peter Pan is one of the greatest children’s stories ever told, and in 1929, its author J. M. Barrie gifted the copyright to the hospital, eight years before his death. Ever since then, Great Ormond Street has enjoyed a special relationship with the boy who would never grow up, not to mention the many millions of pounds brought in through book sales, film adaptions and toy sales. You can read more about Peter Pan and GOSH here. Just one more reason to go see the new film, Pan, when it’s released later in the year!
3. People leave all kind of things on the tube
Who among us hasn’t, at one point or another, left something behind on a plane, train or bus? The London Underground (or Tube, as it’s known to the locals) is over 150 years old and carries over a billion passengers a year, so it’s no surprise that it’s seen its fair share of strange items being left behind. Some of the most bizarre include a stuffed puffer fish, a coffin, an urn full of ashes, 3 dead bats in a jar, and an entire park bench!
4. There is one road in London where you have to drive on the right (the wrong side of the road in Britain!)
The Savoy Hotel is one of the most famous in London and has played host to awards shows, celebrities and of course some scandals. Unlike the rest of the UK, Savoy Court, the entrance road to the Savoy (just off The Strand), requires drivers to drive on the right-hand side of the road. The reasons for this are disputed: some say it was for taxis to drop off guests at the Savoy Theatre, which is on the right hand side of the road, before picking up fares from the hotel, at the end of the road, which seems the most likely explanation. The roundabout at the end is also a tiny one, meaning only cars with a turning circle of 25 feet or under can use it; this is now the minimum required turning circle for any London taxis.
5. The Queen needs permission to enter the City of London
She may be the head of state for the United Kingdom as well as countries such as Canada and Australia, but Queen Elizabeth II is not allowed to enter the City of London without permission from the Lord Mayor. The royal website states: “The citizens of London, through the Corporation of the City, still retain their ancient privilege of being able to bar the Sovereign from entering their streets.” Although if she ever did decide she fancied a jaunt to Liverpool Street, we’re sure the Queen would be more than welcome.
6. Now only the capital of the United Kingdom, London was once the capital city of 6 countries at the same time!
Over 70 years ago, in the midst of World War II, London was one of the few “safe” cities left in Europe for those who opposed the Nazi regime. It soon became a safe haven for displaced governments of the countries that Hitler had invaded, first with Poland’s government-in-exile taking up residence, followed by those of Norway, Belgium, Holland and France.
7. France has an MP in London
In 2012, Axelle Lemaire was elected to the French parliament as one of the country’s 11 overseas seats. Referred to by some as “Paris-on-Thames”, London is now France’s 6th largest city by number of French people living there, with over 200,000 living in the capital and over 400,000 in the UK. Although Miss Lamaire is technically the MP for the constituency of Northern Europe, with the vast majority of her voters living in Britain and over half of those in the capital, many consider her to be France’s MP for London.
So there you have it, our favourite 7 facts about London that you’ve probably never heard before. Do you have any you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!
Planning your trip to London? Discover even more exciting facts about London by exploring London’s culture, history, and food.