50 Incredible and Unusual Facts about London

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The end of any year always makes us nostalgic, but this one also marks the end of a decade (can you believe it?)! It’s made us think back on the early days of our 1000 Londoners project and dig through our old blog posts, like this absolute gem compiled by the Chocolate Films team in 2014. 5 years later, we are so proud to have created 373 of our 1000 short documentaries, paying tribute to all sorts of Londoners. Get ready to step back in time.

Before we launched the 1000 Londoners project we scoured the net and plundered the general knowledge of the 1000 Londoners team to post loads of unusual and little known facts about London on our Twitter page. Now, we’ve decided to collect them here so you can read, buff up on them and impress your friends! Well, impress your friends or become a giant London nerd. Either way, you’re about to become the king or queen of pub quizzes. Enjoy!


leinster05 Fact 1: Those “Fake” houses in Leinster Gardens on the final episode of the last season of Sherlock are completely real! Elementary.
St-Martin-in-the-Fields Fact 2: Ever wondered where the exact Centre of London is? It’s a high disputed issue and is actually marked by a plaque in the Church of St Martin’s-in-the-Fields. However new information suggests that it is actually next to a bench on the Victoria Embankment!
The Hanging Tree Fact 3: The Tyburn Tree, spot of thousands of hangings, is now a traffic island near Marble Arch/Edgware Road. The traffic there is murder.

Fact 4: Covent Garden is a spelling mistake! It was the market garden of Westminster Abbey Monastery & Convent.

Goodge St however isn’t a mistake.

Rooftop Fact 5: On January 30th, 45 yrs ago The Beatles said “Hello/Goodbye” & finally “Let it Be” with this iconic gig. The gig took place at 3 Savile Row, which was once the Apple Corps headquarters.

Fact 6: Ever thought Marble Arch is in a random place? Well that’s because it was designed originally as the entrance to Buckingham Palace.

528637290_5db9151c2b Fact 7: Until 1976, all Black Cabs were required by law to carry ‘a bale of hay and a sack of oats’ for the horse. UNTIL 1976!?!

Fact 8: St John’s Wood is the only London station to share no letters with the word Mackerel.

Fact 8.1: Someone worked this out.


1179508017_80.177.117.97 Fact 9: The London Eye spins twice as fast as a Tortoise sprints. We’re more surprised that tortoises sprint to be honest.
53223414_299591b Fact 10: Queen Elizabeth II is the only reigning UK monarch ever to ride on a tube train. She rode the Victoria line in 1969.
6a00d8341c7d2053ef013488d579cb970c-500wi Fact 11: London’s smallest house is three-and-a-half-feet wide. It is part of the Tyburn Convent in Hyde Park Place and was bombed in WW2.

Fact 12: The Millennium Dome is large in enough to house the Great Pyramid of Giza. In the year 2000 it housed the disappointment of a nation. Maybe.

wandsworth_1647373c Fact 13: The building that Alex is imprisoned in in A Clockwork Orange (Spoiler) is actually a real prison. It’s Wandsworth Prison in London.
Earls Court Police Box

Fact 14: Only a handful of Blue Police Boxes remain in the UK. 2 are in London (Hendon & Earls Court).

Either that or The Doctor is about…

windmilltheatre Fact 15: The Windmill in Soho was the only London theatre not to close during WW2. The film Mrs Henderson Presents is about The Windmill.
GreatFire_8_360 Fact 16: Only 6 People died during The Great Fire of London.
arsenal-tube Fact 17: Arsenal are the only London football club to have their own tube station. The actual London Arsenal  is in Woolwich however, where the club was first formed.
orncpanoramafromriver Fact 18: The Naval College in Greenwich has been used as a film location a lot recently including in Thor: The Dark World & Les Miserables.
IMG_0445 Fact 19: ‪#ValentinesDay fact! The bookshop in rom-com classic Notting Hill is real! It’s, well, it’s in Notting Hill.
02 Fact 20: The White Hart pub on Drury Lane used to be the watering hole for the infamous rouges Jack Sheppard and Dick Turpin!
blue-plaque-580_69108a Fact 21: Blue Plaques mark the neighbouring houses of Jimi Hendrix and George Handel in Brook St, in the West End. Most musical street ever?
_45537957_circleonly Fact 22: In 1884, The Times described the Circle Line as “a form of mild torture which no person would undergo if he could…help it”.

Fact 23: The world’s first traffic light was erected outside the House of Commons in 1868.

The Traffic Light promptly blew up the following year, injuring the policeman who was operating it.

Electric_Avenue_Street_Sign Fact 24: Brixton Market was the first electrified market in the country. It still runs today…where else but on Electric Avenue?
9180444 Fact 25: The nursery rhyme ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ references The Eagle pub located in City Road, London. There’s even a plaque to prove it.

Fact 26: Only 45% of the London underground network is underground.

Around 99% of Londoners are annoyed by it everyday.

(The second part of that fact may not have been a fact. Though we suspect we’re not far off.)

Edmund_Spenser.jpg.800x800_q85 Fact 27: The tomb of Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser in Westminster Abbey is said to contain unpublished works by Shakespeare…
national-gallery-london Fact 28: Three of the world’s top ten museums and galleries are in London and the city has 857 art galleries in total.
fashionweek_london_web_0 Fact 29: 85 per cent of UK’s fashion designers are based in London making this one trendy city.
maryrogers Fact 30: Postman’s Park, behind Bart’s hospital, is full of memorials to “ordinary people” who committed heroic acts.
Skyfall-filming-in-London-600x399 Fact 31: There were 14,350 film “shooting days” in London in 2007, making it the third most filmed city in the world.
mayfair-map Fact 32: Mayfair is named after a fair that used to be held in the area every year… in May.
cleopatra_needle_thutmose_iii_obelisk_3rd_600x Fact 33: Cleopatra’s Needle was shipped to Britain in 1878 and is Britain’s tallest obelisk cut from a single block of stone.
bar-italia Fact 34: In 1926, John Logie Baird demonstrated how television would work in what is now Bar Italia on Frith Street, Soho.
21172453 Fact 35: St Thomas’ Hospital used to have 7 buildings, 1 for each weekday, supposedly so that staff knew when patients had been admitted.
yeoldecheshirecheese Fact 36: The Fleet River, 1 of the capital’s many buried waterways still runs under the cellars of the Cheshire Cheese pub on Fleet Street.
Crowds on Oxford Street, London, England, Great Britain Fact 37: London was the first city to reach a population of more than 1 million, in 1811. London remained the largest city in the world until it was overtaken by Tokyo in 1957.

Fact 38: The Palace of Westminster was sited by the river so it could not be totally surrounded by a mob.

Fact 39: The Houses of Parliament has 1,000 rooms, 100 staircases, 11 courtyards, 8 bars and 6 restaurants.


Fact 40: The gravestone of famous Elizabethan actor Richard Burbage in the graveyard of St Leonard’s Shoreditch, reads simply “Exit Burbage”.

Hyde Park

Fact 41: London is the greenest city of its size in the world. Green space covers almost 40% of greater London (roughly 173 square km).


Fact 42: London has four UNESCO world heritage sites: Tower of London, Maritime Greenwich, Westminster Palace, Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens.


Fact 43: 3.5 million passenger journeys are made every day on London’s ‘Tube’ and there were more than 1 billion journeys in total in 2010.

The Shard

Fact 44: At 310 metres, the Shard was the tallest building in Europe between March-Nov 2012, before being overtaken by Moscow’s Mercury City Tower.


Fact 45: Until the 1960s, each new version of the LU map meant a new diagram had to be entirely drawn by hand 10x the size of the pocket map.


Fact 46: Hedon Street was the location of the photoshoot for Bowie’s “Ziggie Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” album cover.


Fact 47: Piccadilly is named after a kind of stiff collar made by a tailor who lived in the area in the 17th Century.


Fact 48: The only true home shared by all four Beatles was a flat at 57 Green Street near Hyde Park, where they lived in the autumn of 1963.


Fact 49: Pearly Kings and Queens, so called because they wear clothes studded with countless pearl buttons, were originally the “aristocracy” of the costermongers or barrowboys and were elected to safeguard their rights from competitors and rogues.


Fact 50: The architect of the Oxo Tower, wasn’t allowed an electrified advertising hoarding in the building. So instead, they incorporated the company’s name in the windows on all four sides.


We hope this blog post has made you laugh and see London in a new light! And for more fun stories about London, as always, take a look at our latest Londoners

Posted by:   /  3rd Dec, 2019