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London's Most Unusual Traditions

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by Nathan Howard (subscribe)
Nathan Howard. I'm a second year student living in London. I like to share my experiences with other's to inform them on London and what it has to offer!
Published February 9th 2018
Exploring London's Past
London Buckingham city traditions todo list places tourist sight seeing outdoor
Buckingham Palace, London.,_London_-_April_2009.jpg

London - a city rich in culture and heritage, following traditions dating back hundreds of years. Although a modern world has allowed for many traditions to be altered or misinterpreted in some parts, there's still many still functioning today. Here I explore a few of these must-see traditions, all of which are easy to witness for yourself, considering you visit at the correct times!

Changing of the Guards

Built in 1703 for the third Earl of Mulgrave, Buckingham Palace has been a home of monarchy for hundreds of years. Equally a home to Queen Elizabeth now, Buckingham Palace is now also considered a huge attraction, known for its iconic look and grand size. The changing of the guards is a tradition, in which royal guards switch stations daily, following a strict routine of poised marching and changing of stations. This daily ceremony begins at 10:25am, when the soldiers make their way down to the place alongside a regimental band/corps of drums. In other words, if you're wanting to see this unique procedure take place, you'll have to be sure not to miss it!

London Buckingham city traditions todo list places tourist sight seeing outdoor
view of Tower Bridge, London

Guy Fawkes Night

So this one isn't exclusive to London but applies to places all across the UK. In 1605, Guy Fawkes along with 12 other men, planned to attack the Houses of Parliament. After his immediate arrest and execution, it's now a tradition for the Yeomen of the Guard to search the Parliament's basement before any reigning monarch should enter, a tradition which still occurs today. Now, every night on November 5th people from across the world make bonfires and set off fireworks in celebration of the King's safety. London is well worth a visit on November 5th to see this magnificent display.

London Buckingham city traditions todo list places tourist sight seeing outdoor
View of Houses of Parliament, London

State Opening of Parliament

In a country ruled by Kings and Queens, it should be no surprise that every year the Queen takes centre stage in what is known as the state opening of Parliament. Riding a golden carriage through London, she reads the government to-do list. This tradition is a dedication to informing the masses of government plans and structures in place, as well as a commitment to her participation in these political matters. Other aspects of this remarkable tradition, however, can't be explained. For example, the speech itself is written on goat's skin (yes, goat's skin), and guests who annually attend include businessman and billionaire Alan Sugar, who wears a stoat.

London Buckingham city traditions todo list places tourist sight seeing outdoor
Pathway leading to Buckingham Palace

Sheep Dive

In this bizarre tradition, London Bridge see's itself as rather a farmyard, than a bridge to connect South to North of the river. every September, sheep (yes, real sheep) get driven across this bridge by 'freemen' of London. Attracting people of an agricultural background and interest, this bizarre tradition may seem so unreal, so you might just have to see it for yourself to be sure. Recently, this event has attracted many spectators, and even British TV host Mary Berry kick-started the event last year.

Ravens at the Tower of London

Claimed by King Charles ll himself, there is a requirement dating back centuries that there must be six ravens (the birds, yes) located in the Tower of London at all times. The law is said to be derived from a warning that the King once received from a courtier, who said if the ravens were to ever leave the Tower, the Monarchy would crumble and Britain would fall. This extreme claim has clearly prompted action being taken to prevent this, as the ravens can still be seen today.
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Why? To explore Londons fascinating heritage
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Where: London, UK
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