The 11 Strangest Things I’ve Ever Found In London
In the years I’ve been scouring London for interesting sights, I’ve come across some very weird things.
Here are the top 10 strangest things I’ve ever found in London.
1. Philpot Lane Mice
Billed as London’s tiniest permanent sculpture, you need to have a very close look at this building on Philpot Lane (EC3) to spot the two little mice sharing a piece of cheese!
More photos and the conspiracy as to why they’re there here.
2. Dalston’s Clown Museum
Caulrophobes might want to give this one a miss, but this has to be one of the weirdest museums in London. It’s dedicated to clowning and founded in 1959.
Have a look at my visit with more photos in my full blog post here.
3. The Policeman’s Hook
Nestled on a building in Leicester Square is this coat hook. It’s said to have been placed here in the 1930s and policemen, who would directed traffic at the busy nearby junction, could hang their heavy woollen cloaks in warm weather!
4. Trump Street
Don’t worry, this isn’t a sign that the new US President is taking control of London. Trump Street has been in The City since before America was an official country…
It’s here because – like most streets around Cheapside – it’s named after what was made here, namely Trumpets! Look out for more obvious ones in the area like Bread Street, Milk Street and Poultry.
5. The Secret Pet Cemetery
This Victorian relic is hidden behind a hedge on Bayswater Road. Next time you’re near Victoria Gate, have a closer look!
It began when the Gatekeeper in 1881 – who was friendly with local dog walkers – agreed to bury a friends pet ‘Cherry’ in his garden. The tradition grew and today there are over 300 tiny tombs. Have a closer look at some of them in my full post here.
6. An Apologetic Plaque
It’s worth stopping outside the Brunei Gallery on Russell Square to fully read this plaque. In possible the most quintessentially British way they announce their sincerest apologies for not seeking planning permission for this building!
7. The ‘King’s Stone’
Little did I know, when I recently ventured to the distant realms of Kingston (yes, it’s still London), that I was in store for an ancient quest. This stone proclaims to have been where Anglo-Saxon Kings of England including Athelstan, Edwin and Ethelread were crowned between 900-979AD! For more of Kingston’s heritage, see my blog post about it here.
8. The Nazi Grave
Often touted as “London’s only Nazi memorial” this tiny gravestone near Pall Mall commemorates Giro, pet dog to the German Ambassador in the 1930s. Obviously a dog can’t really be aligned with a political party, but was his owner – Leopold von Hoesch – a nazi? Read my full post to make your mind up…
9. The Fake 10 Downing Street
Does this door look familiar? It’s not the world famous No. 10 Downing Street but an impersonator! This is actually 10 Adam Street just off the Strand, designed by the architect Robert Adam as part of a number of neoclassical terraced houses known as ‘Adelphi’ from 1768-92. There’s no trick here, I don’t think it was intended to be a fake, but it’s a good selfie spot now you’re unlikely to get in front of the real No. 10!
10. This Soho Sign
Soho’s gradually being sanitised of its sordid history, but little glimpses of its past remain. This sign is a tongue-in-cheek piece of street art on the former home of the artist Sebastian Horseley. Horseley often wrote candidly about his dysfunctional family, drug addiction and his reliance on prostitutes.
For more secrets of Soho (including the now legendary ‘Seven Noses of Soho’) read my post here.
11. A Mummified Head
We’re not talking ancient Egypt here. This particular chap – Jeremy Bentham – was preserved in the 19th century.
Bentham was a social reformer and life-long eccentric. Even in death he insisted on being preserved as an ‘auto-icon’ so he could be wheeled out at friends’ parties if they were missing him.
He conceived the ethics principal Utility which meant the right thing to do was whatever benefitted the most people while harming the least. As a staunch atheist, Bentham also changed our perception of death and the afterlife, believing people should be useful in death as they were in life.
To this end he is on permanent display in UCL’s main campus building, his preserved skeleton covered in clothes and a wax death mask.
Usually on free permanent display, Bentham will be moved (touring to New York from March – July 2018) but back full time after that!
But it gets weirder…
For a limited time only – as part of a special exhibition until February 2018 – you can see the actual mummified head of Jeremy on display in UCL for free. Find out more here.
Spotted any other weird and wonderful bits of London? Let me know in the comments!
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