A Little London History
Walking around London is always fun – there is so much to see, so many tiny parts of our past left for us to find. However, not all of it is obvious, so here are a few snippets I learned recently.
Did you know, that if a name ends ‘sey’ it was once an island? Bermondsey, near London Bridge, was once a small area surrounded by marsh land. Most of the south bank was marshy, which is why there was only one bridge – London Bridge – crossing the Thames. When you are next crossing London Bridge, just after leaving the railway station, look down at the road underneath. You will see two metal tram lines. These mark the position of the original bridge. They are surprisingly narrow, considering the bridge was a main thoroughfare and had houses and businesses on both sides, over-hanging the river. There is a story (possibly not true) that because people crossing the bridge had to pass very close to each other, they would pass with their sword hands next to each other. Most people were right-handed, so people walked on the left side – and this is why today, English people drive on the left. Apparently Napoleon was left-handed, which is why the French drive on the right side.
If you walk along the south bank through Bermondsey, there are many buildings which were the original dock buildings. Most are now converted to homes, but when you look at them, it doesn’t need much imagination to see how they would have been. At St. Saviours Dock you can see the setting where Dickens wrote the death of Fagin in Oliver Twist. If you walk back to the river, there are areas of floating gardens, and on Sundays they are open to the public.
Many of the railway arches are now small businesses. If you wander around Bermondsey on a Saturday morning, you can buy all sorts of fine produce – a foodies paradise. There is a fine honey shop, which uses the honey from London beehives. Did you know there are beehives on top of Fortnum and Mason, which are shaped just like the shop? There are also hives on top of the KPMG building, though I doubt they are shaped like a set of accounts!
Near to London Bridge is Borough Market, a hive of human activity. This is the place to shop if you want unusual spices, fancy breads, or specialist fish. Just beyond, is Neal’s – the place to buy English cheese. There is also Monmouth coffee house, which I am told sells the best coffee.
The South Bank is where the prostitutes worked and they were called ‘wild geese’. A short walk from Borough Market is a plaque, marking their graves.
Many of the areas of housing are named after what the area was previously used for. So, the housing on the Neckinger estate is so named because it was an area of execution. I’m not sure that the current residents realise that…
Thank you for reading.
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Hello, hope all is well.
I have a cheeky request (which you can ignore if you’re too busy, but I would be super-grateful if you can do this). Next time you are near your local library, please could you ask them to order you a copy of CLARA? It won’t cost you anything (other than time, which I know is precious, so I will be very grateful). The library order a copy, and let you know, and you will then have to collect it and read/pretend to read it, and return it a week later. Your part is then finished. But it means that the book will be available to a whole lot of other people.
I have tested the plan with my Mum, and there is now a copy in her local library, so I know it will work. Some libraries might refuse, if you are the only person who has requested the book, but the more people who ask, the more likely they are to stock it. I have had to deposit 6 copies with The British Library and 5 other libraries (which is a legal requirement, even though I lose the money) but it does mean that other libraries can stock the book.
The library will need:
Subtitle: A Good Psychopath?
Author: Anne E. Thompson
Publisher: The Cobweb Press
They can order it through their normal channel (I think they tend to use a wholesaler).
The more people who request it from a single library the better, as they will display it in a better position if it’s popular (so do mention it to your friends and work colleagues).
Hope you don’t mind me asking. I don’t have the backing of a major publisher, so I need all the help I can get. Thank you oodles if you are willing to help.