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10 Things You Didn't Know About Westminster

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published October 30th 2014
Did You Know Yates Lived in Bloomsbury?
statue, westminster, london


Busy Londoners rarely have the time to admire the sights around them on the commute to work or that important appointment. We are so familiar with them that we walk past our iconic landmarks without much notice, taking them for granted. But do we really know as much about them as we think we do? The City of Westminster is one of the most grand and fascinating boroughs in the centre of the capital, and through its long history has accumulated lots of quirky facts and anecdotes. Here are ten pieces of trivia you may not know.




1. So whose smart idea was it to build an arch on a large traffic island at the junction of Oxford Street, Park Lane, and Edgware Road? Marble Arch may look magnificent, but what exactly is its point, its reason for being?

Marble Arch was designed by the architect, John Nash, in 1827. It was originally meant to be the entrance to Buckingham Palace, but never used. In the 1960s it was moved to its current location after Park Lane was widened.


houses of parliament


2. The Houses of Parliament has over eleven hundred rooms and a hundred staircases. It also has nineteen bars an restaurants, which are down a corridor strategically placed beneath St. Stephen of Scotland.



3. Britain's oldest garden is College Garden in Westminster Abbey, and dates to the tenth century. It was originally used to grown medicinal herbs.

big ben


4. Big Ben is prided on its astute time keeping, but in 1949, it became five minutes slow after a flock of starlings landed on the minute hand. I find it amazing that it hasn't happened since.

westminster abbey


5. Westminster Abbey is built on a former eyot, once known as Thorney Island. The Marshland was embanked in the nineteenth century, which is why the area is now called Embankment.



6. What is now called Aldwych, was known to the Anglo-Saxons as Lundenwic. When they built a church on Thorney island, it was west of Lundenwic, and so called it 'West-minster'.

knut, cnut, canute
Image from en.wikipedia.org


7. King Cnut, who reigned from 1016 - 1035 was the first king to build a palace at Westminster.



8. When Jane Austen was in London, she stayed in her brother's flat, on 10 Henrietta Street.



9. The ghost of navel administrator, Samuel Pepys, is said to haunt 12 Buckingham Street.

daniel gardener, hunting
Image from en.wikipedia.org


10. Soho allegedly got its name from the fact that it was once a hunting ground, and riders would used to cry out 'So-ho!'
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Where: City of Westminster
Your Comment
Yates?
Of Wine Lodge fame?
I think you mean WB Yeats [he was a famous poet]
by weeke (score: 0|5) 1384 days ago
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