The fake 10 Downing Street
Few can get close to that famous door, so here’s the next best thing. Number 10, Adam Street (left), just off The Strand, is a dead ringer for the PM’s residence – just try to crop out the skip.
The Neal’s Yard clock
Tim Hunkin and Andy Plant’s quirky creation has been a feature on Shorts Gardens since the Eighties. It sits above what is now a Holland and Barrett health shop (formerly the Neal’s Yard warehouse), but is unfortunately no longer in full working order. When it was first built, water would fall down the wall every hour, filling watering cans held by the five figures at the bottom. Four of them would water plants, a fifth would tip its water onto the pavement – and on to the head of any unlucky passer-by.
St-Martin-in-the-Fields’ weird window
This unusual feature at St-Martin-in-the-Fields church, near Trafalgar Square, was added in 2008 and is the work of Shirazeh Houshiary, an Iranian artist and former Turner prize nominee. It certainly makes a change from your standard stained glass.
The road where cars drive the wrong way
The Savoy’s driveway is the only road in London where the cars drive on the right. They must even go anticlockwise round the roundabout outside the hotel’s doors. Why? Women traditionally sat on the right side of the car, behind the driver. This arrangement meant they could tumble straight into The Savoy without having to walk all the way around the vehicle.
Few would expect to see a windmill in the capital, but there are actually at least six. Brixton Windmill, for example, has been around since 1816. It was closed in 1934, restored in 2011 and is now open to the public. Others can be found in Barnet (Arkley Mill), Plumstead Common (The Old Mill), Croydon (Shirley Windmill), Wimbledon and Wandsworth Common.
Samuel Johnson’s cat
Not many felines have been immortalised quite so well as Hodge, one of Samuel Johnson’s pets – a statue even sits outside his house on Gough Square. The great man’s love for his cat was rather unusual for the era. “I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge,” wrote James Boswell. “He himself used to go out and buy oysters [for him], lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature.”
Animal lovers might also visit London smallest statue on the corner of Philpot Lane – it depicts two mice fighting over a piece of cheese.
For something larger there’s the Catford cat.
Sir John Soane’s telephone box mausoleum
London’s red telephone boxes have long thrilled visitors, but few think to visit Sir John Soane’s mausoleum in the churchyard of Old St Pancras. The shape of the tomb was a direct influence on Giles Gilbert Scott’s design for the famous phone booths.
The city’s thinnest house?
This skinny house on the corner of South Terrace and Thurloe Square in Knightbridge narrows to just seven feet and is sure to make visitors do a double-take. Despite its size, it is thought to be worth in excess of £2m.
The Mandela Way T-34 Tank
This unlikely addition to Bermondsey was used during the filming of the 1995 drama Richard III, before it was sold for £7,000 to Russell Gray, a Londonder. He installed it in its current location – on a piece of scrubland between Mandela Way and Pages Walk where it is frequently repainted and graffitied.
The city’s narrowest alley
Brydges Place narrows to just 15 inches in places, giving it a good claim to the title of London’s narrowest alley.
London other littlest attractions include Pickering Place (smallest square), The Dove in Hammersmith (smallest pub) and St. Ethelburga-the-Virgin in Bishopsgate (smallest church).
This restful, perfectly realized Japanese-style garden is easily missed in Holland Park. See rbkc.gov.uk for more information.
The York House nudes
The Naked Ladies form part of a rockery in the gardens of York House in Twickenham. During the Blitz, it was feared that moonlight might reflect on the statues and help the Luftwaffe find its way around London, so they were coated in “grey sludge”.
Tim Fishlock’s ear
Part one of our guide shed light on the Seven Noses of Soho – artistic installations provoked by the introduction of “nosey” CCTV camera.
The eagle-eyed visitor to London might also spot an ear. Tim Fishlock’s creation can be found on Floral Street, near Leicester Square.
18 moles in a jar
Among the bizarre treasures at London’s Grant Museum of Zoology is a glass jar filled with 18 preserved moles. Bizarrely, it even has a Twitter account.
Other strange museum exhibits include an 8.6-metre giant squid (Natural History Museum), a dead sparrow and the cricket ball which killed it (Lord’s Museum), and Napoleon’s toothbrush (Wellcome Collection).
The fake Kenwood House bridge
This elegant bridge on the banks of Thousand Pound Pond at Kenwood House in north London is like something from the set of a theatre production. It’s merely a cleverly decorated white timber facade.
The faulty lions of Trafalgar Square
Everyone knows about the bronze lions, but far fewer are familiar with the eccentric story behind them. Sir Edwin Landseer was asked to design the sculptures in 1858, but worked so slowly that four years on he was still sketching. He spent hours at London Zoo, studied the habits of lions, and even asked for a dead one to keep in his studio. He had to wait two years for a lion at the zoo to die, but when it did, they carted it over to the artist’s studio and propped it up in the desired pose. He then set to work making drawings and little sculptures. Alas, the lion started to decompose before he was finished, so he had to improvise the final details. Which is why, if you look closely, you can see that the lions in Trafalgar Square actually have the paws of cats, rather than lions. The lions were finally installed in 1867.On the subject of Lions, it should also be noted the pair of sphinxs that are supposed to guard Cleopatra’s Needle on Embankment are in fact facing the wrong way to do so.
Jeremy Bentham’s skeleton
In the South Cloisters of the main building of London’s University College stands a cabinet containing the clothed skeleton of philosopher and reformer Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). (The head you see is actually Bentham’s wax-covered skull.) The cabinet used to contain Bentham’s entire mummified body, but his corpse didn’t cooperate andhe decayed. By the way, Bentham, one of the inspirations for the founding of University College, specifically requested that his body be dissected after death and then preserved in this fashion.
The Eisenhower Centre/Goodge Street deep level shelter
Protective deep level air-raid shelters—complete with bunks, bathrooms, kitchens, and medical facilities for 8,000 people—were built at eight strategic tube stops during World War II. The one across Tottenham Court Road from the Goodge Street tube stop (WC1) is particularly noteworthy, as it doubled as General Dwight Eisenhower’s command base during D-Day. One of the shelter entrances—on Chenies Street, close to the junction of North Crescent—is still visible and has been renamed the Eisenhower Centre in the president’s honor.
The Bells of St. Sepulchre
The church bells of St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate, near the Old Bailey, have a long history of announcing and/or portending doom. For centuries, the large bell in the church tower was rung to mark executions at nearby Newgate Prison. In addition, from the 17th to the 19th centuries, the clerk of St. Sepulchre’s was responsible for ringing a small handbell outside the death row cells of Newgate prisoners— at midnight on the day of their execution—to help the condemned prepare to meet their maker. This Execution Bell is kept in a glass case in the church’s nave.
“All you that in the condemned hole do lie, Prepare you, for tomorrow you shall die.” – Part of the rhyme recited by St. Sepulchre’s clerk while ringing the Execution Bell at Newgate
John Snow’s water pump
You can still see the original water pump that helped spark the terrible cholera outbreak of 1854. On Broadwick Street, W1, on the western edge of Soho, stands what’s become known as John Snow’s water pump. Dr. Snow traced the area’s many cholera deaths to contaminated water from this source, marking one of the first instances of evidence-based sleuthing to try to control an epidemic. Until then it was thought the illness was a result of a general miasma in the air and/or the base moral makeup of the poorer classes who were often hit hardest by disease.
“The researches of Dr. [John] Snow are among the most fruitful in modern medicine. He traced the history of cholera.” – The Lancet, 1866
Before the Victoria Embankment was built in the 1860s, the great houses on the Strand had pride of place, with gardens that fronted the Thames. Among them was York House, the home of the first Duke of Buckingham, built in 1237. The mansion’s Thames watergate, from 1626, is all that remains; the house itself was razed in 1675. The watergate can now be found within Embankment Gardens, 150 yards (137 m) inland from the riverbank.
The Roof Gardens
High atop the hustle/bustle of Kensington High Street, W8, is an incongruous 1.5-acre (0.6 ha) man-made oasis of rosebushes, fruit trees, evergreen shrubs, oaks, lavender, and more. The Roof Garden—free and open to the public—consists of three themed gardens, complete with wandering flamingos and a fish-stocked stream.
Best of the rest
Wilton’s Music Hall (wiltons.org.uk) near Tower Hill, for its live shows, quirky events and the very fine Mahogany Bar; Dennis Severs’ House (dennissevershouse.co.uk) in Spitalfields, “the closest you will ever get to living in grubby 18th-century London”; the gruesome Old Operating Theatre (thegarret.org.uk) in Southwark; The London Wall (examples at Tower Hill and Barbican);London’s smallest police station (the southeast corner of Trafalgar Square); and Hyde Park’s pet cemetery (which can only be seen through appointment with local police).
Article by: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/