Today we bring you the second chapter of our section: London Curiosities. At the first one we gave answers to the most frequently questions about London, today we focus on the stories and legends behind this city that still retains its aura of mystery.
THE LONDON STONE
According to the legend, The Stone of London ensures the city will keep its prosperity as long as the stone is safe. It is believed this stone was orinigally in central London when the city was under the Roman Empire, and survived the great fire of London in 1666 and the Nazis bombs. Now the stone remains sadly forgotten in Cannon Street.
THE TOWER OF LONDON & ITS RAVENS
The Tower of London is known as the armored tank of The Crown Jewels and the beefeaters house, but it also has other major tenants, a flock of crows. The legend says that the day the ravens leave the Tower the kingdom will crumble. To keep this prophecy unfulfilled those get part of their wings cutt off, so they can not fly too far from the fort. Checking the accuracy of the legends is quite complicated, but these birds can score a goal, as the White Tower survived the devastating fire that swept the city in 1666.
TOWER BRIDGE AND THE DEAD MAN’S HOLE
Decades ago the Dead Man’s Hole where the place where the bodies of suicides that jumped into the Thames before and executed before being taken to the reservoir and then bury you. At that time people could only cross the river with the wherrymen and the Dead Man’s Hole was just off one of the piers. It is said that the wherrymen used to take advantage of their situation by transfering the bodies of the southern to the northern shore, as anatomists of Barts Hospital paid more for them that the ones at Guy’s Hospital on the southern shore.
JACK THE RIPPER
The last victim of Jack, the Ripper, Mary Kelly, enjoyed her last pint at the Ten Bells Pub the night she was murdered. We recommend a visit to this pub which is included in the route of ‘Jack the Ripper’, walking in the footsteps of this Victorian trickster murderer arround the city. There you can admire a painting that shows how the district was in the nineteenth century.
Some say that several of the Ripper victims are wandering the city, near the places where they were killed. See the examples here. But not only the victims refuse to leave the world of the living. Every December 31st just as a new year begins, a phantom man is said to throw himself off Westminster Bridge. Many believe it to be the ghost of Jack the Ripper, taking his own life.
LONDON AND THE FOGGY MYTH
Those who have lived for a while in London may have been disappointed because they have not been submerged in a thick bank of fog that keeps you from seeing beyond your nose. The truth is that the iconic foggy London so often seen in movies and described on books was not due to weather phenomenon, but pollution. In the heart of the city’s industrial revolution the amount of dust in the air was undue because all the coal the city used as fuel, nad the factories and chimneys. One afternoon in 1952 the polution became so strong that the Sadler’s Wells theater had to interrupt its function because the fog slipped on stage. So, today is just as likely to find fog in London and any other city ( with a similar humidity).
ABOUT FIRE AND EXECUTIONS
During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, at the time of Witch-Hunt in London the bonfires were not a strage thing to the city. But the Smithfield Market was the “favourite place” to burn witches and heretics. But this was also the place where Scottish patriot William Wallace, better known as Braveheart, was executed. The British Empire of King Edward I crushed their revolution and ‘Braveheart’ was captured and put to death at Smithfield. A large plaque in Gaelic marks the event.