Fantastic facts: all about London’s geography, history and culture

    Fantastic facts all about London’s geography, history and culture

    Looking to visit the UK capital sometime soon? If so, excellent choice. London is definitely one of the most vibrant, most eclectic, most exciting and most essential metropolises on the face of the Earth.

    Plus, just as enticing is the fact there are a good number of special offers London hotels to take advantage of (especially outside hotels’ peak seasons). In which case, if you do book a stay in this amazing city, you may be interested to learn one or two fantastic facts first, before you set foot inside its city limits… 

    London’s geography

    • London was officially the world’s largest city from 1831-1925, with a population of 7,419,000 (that’s 325 people per hectare)
    • The amount of greenery London offers visitors, given its urbanity and population (which is believed to still be more than 7 million), is rather amazing, frankly; with over 8.4 million trees in total, the city actually manages to fulfil the UN’s definition of a forest, however bizarre that might sound
    • If you know a Brit at all well or if you’ve visited London before (perhaps staying at the likes of Park Grand London Kensington hotel), you’ll be well aware its people like to wallow in irony; it’s at the centre of the nation’s sense of humour – in fact, irony even seems to extend to London’s public transport network. How so? Well, more than half of the London Underground (Tube) network is actually above ground
    • Speaking of the Tube, did you know it’s the oldest underground train network on the planet, having originally started way back in 1863? In fact, it’s so old that practically everything installed in its tunnels (including the trains) has to be pretty much bespoke-built
    • Not only is London at the centre of the world’s zeitgeist (financially and culturally), it’s *technically* at the centre of the world, too. That’s because, owing to the 24-hour clock, the Prime Meridian (i.e. zero longitude) crosses right through the city’s district Greenwich; the 24-hour clock (and, therefore, the world’s time zones) was decided in an era when London was absolutely figuratively at the centre of the world – the Victorian age.

    London’s history

    • The city takes its name from the name the Roman invaders of Britain gave the settlement they established here called ‘Londonium’; this settlement eventually evolved into an ancient city, which – on and off – has been the capital city of England (and, then, overall, of Britain and then of the UK) for the vast majority of history
    • The legendary Great Fire of London, when a high proportion of the city’s then wooden buildings burnt to the ground (including one of the iterations of London Bridge), began in the very early hours of September 2nd 1666 in a bakery located on the wonderfully named Pudding Lane, which still exists, lying between Bank Tube station and Fenchurch Street mainline station, in the heart of The City
    • Lasting four whole days before it burned itself out, the Great Fire eviscerated up to a quarter of London (a total 13,000 houses, 87 churches and the original St Paul’s Cathedral); remarkably, though, according to records, only six people lost their lives
    • Heard of the utterly iconic Victorian serial killer, Jack the Ripper? You’re not alone. But did you know he was never caught? His identity, then, remains one of history’s great unsolved mysteries; down through the years, ‘suspects’ have included Queen Victoria’s doctor, Sir William Gull, and even her son, Prince Albert
    • Another historical tragedy to have, er, plagued the capital was the Great Plague, which ripped through Europe, killing so many people it, staggeringly, wiped out a third of the continent’s then population; in fact, there were two Plagues that afflicted the continent and all its cities, the second of which, some have suggested, was put to an end in London thanks to 1666’s Great Fire
    • Still on the subject of the Plague, around 1,000 victims of it were buried on the site on which now stands Aldgate Tube station (which is, actually, only about a five-minute walk away from Pudding Lane)
    • The UK Prime Minister, as is widely known, is based at 10 Downing Street, in the heart of Westminster and just moments from the Houses of Parliament; although, what few know is that, while modern PMs still work in the many offices at that address, they tend to live in a flat above 11 Downing Street (officially the HQ of their Chancellor of the Exchequer; read: their financial secretary) because it’s roomier than the flat above No. 10 
    • Just as today’s London is known for its salubrious restaurants Kensington, the place has always been known for its iconic pubs; one of the public houses that lays claim to being the oldest in all Britain is The Seven Stars in Holborn, with origins dating all the way back to 1602
    • London may host home matches played by the men’s England football team (along with fierce rivals, Scotland, the oldest international team in the world; both were established when they played each other in 1872), but England’s home, Wembley Stadium, only dates back to the 1920s (and today’s version isn’t the original Wembley anyway); yet, the oldest tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon, is played on that London district’s All England Club tennis courts, which date back to 1877.

    London’s culture

    • Today’s London is rightly renowned for its multiculturalism (although the city has always been renowned for being ‘at the crossroads of the world’); with it comprising so many millions of expats, 300 different languages are spoken in 21st Century London
    • It’s true, like it or not, some are better at British and, indeed, London accents than others; the capital’s most recognised accent (aside perhaps from the posh version of ‘received pronunciation’ or RP, for short, that the Royals use) is the Cockney accent, which is traditionally associated with 19th and 20th Century East End London
    • Some sources suggest that London is actually home to more people than the entire country of Austria
    • Looking to dine out during a stay in London? Why ever wouldn’t you (during a trip for pleasure or for business, maybe making use of a conference room London)? After all, London has some of the best reviewed restaurants anywhere in the world
    • That said, the reason for this really is because of multiculturalism – the traditional centuries-old cuisine of the English is consistently rated as one of the worst in Europe, if not the world. Go figure!