Parkland Walk: a walk along an abandoned railway line

An abandoned railway line can be a creepy place to walk alone at night with its overgrown vines, a forgotten railway infrastructure and the smell of spray paint lingering in the air. Well, where once a railroad line crossed through the wilds of London’s Haringey and Islington, a scenic 5.0 km linear green pedestrian and cycle route has taken its place and the crumbling, abandoned stations and tunnels are now home to urban legends, graffiti, and some whimsically unsettling decoration. The route of the path between Finsbury Park and Highgate…

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The story of Dick Whittington and his faithful cat

Born in the 135Os, Dick Whittington was a poor boy even if, eventually, became a wealthy merchant and three-time Lord Mayor of London. According to legend, he made his fortune thanks to the extraordinary ratting abilities of his cat. The story of Dick Whittington and His Cat is the folk tale surrounding the real-life Richard Whittington (c. 1354–1423) and it is not just a fairy tale, but it is part of the folklore of London. Today, near the foot of Highgate Hill is the famous Whittington stone, which is supposed…

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The curious London’s time-traveling tomb

Swinging open the gate of Brompton Cemetery is a bit like swinging open a little bit of London history. Here rests famous suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst, and Beatrix Potter strolled its 39 acres, plucking names from tombstones to use in her work, including deceased Peter Rabbett and Mr. Nutkins. Moreover, here more than 35,000 monuments in all are present, rich and poor, known and unknown. In the middle of the grounds and shrouded by trees stands a fascinating mausoleum in Egyptian style made from granite, with a heavy bronze door secured…

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The princes in the Tower of London: one of the great mysteries of English history

In the White Tower, the old keep at the Tower of London, there is a small staircase tucked away near the entrance. Called the Two Princes Staircase, it’s where the skeletons of two young boys, one aged about 10 and the other 13 were found during renovations in 1674. It’s widely believed the skeletons are of the two princes who disappeared at the site in the late 15th century. And this is one of the great mysteries of English history. Though there has yet to be any scientific evidence to…

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The Hardy Tree: the churchyard ash tree surrounded by hundreds of gravestones placed there by author Thomas Hardy

Inside an ancient churchyard in London an ash tree is encircled with hundreds of overlapping gravestones, placed there by classic novelist Thomas Hardy. The cemetery, alongside London’s St. Pancras Old Church, is considered by many to be one of England’s oldest places of Christian worship, and it is the site of a number of fascinating stories. For istance, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and the future Mary Shelley planned their elopement there while visiting Mary’s mother’s grave. Restored in the first few years of the 21st century, the graveyard served…

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The sad history of London’s Speakers’ Corner

Free speech laws in United Kingdom include some notorious exceptions: Saying anything to incite religious and racial hatred, threaten the monarchy, or endorse terrorism may be considered unlawful. But there is one place in all of London where, informally, these restrictive speech laws don’t apply. Political monologues, religious oration and fiery debates can be found here every Sunday morning of the year, although there are sharp peaks in attendance surrounding political events such as the recent Brexit vote. On this day, October 14, 1855, a carpenter mounted his soapbox complaining…

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St. Dunstan-in-the-East: one of the few remaining casualties of the London Blitz, this destroyed church has become an enchanting public garden.

We are on St Dunstan’s Hill, halfway between London Bridge and the Tower of London in the City of London.The church of St.Dunstan-in-the-East built here has survived a lot during its 900-year history, including the Great Fire of London in 1666.It was originally built during Saxon times, in about 1100. Although the Great Fire caused terrible damage to the church it was faithfully rebuilt, and topped with a steeple designed by Sir Christopher Wren, one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history. However in 1941 the church was…

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When London burned: 1666’s Great Fire

Thomas Farriner was a baker who served King Charles II, supplied bread to the Royal Navy, and lived in Pudding Lane, London. All regular, until he went to bed on the night of September 1, 1666 leaving the fire that heated his oven still burning. As a result, in the early hours of the following morning, sparks from the fire caused flames that soon engulfed the entire house. Farriner, sometimes spelt Faryner or Farynor, escaped with his family by climbing through an upstairs window, but his maidservant, Rose, died in…

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The London’s plague pits map that shows where the Black Death victims got buried

Overcrowded, dirty and awash with sewage…it’s hardly surprising that the bubonic plague flourished in the crowded streets of London. Over 15% of London’s population was wiped out between 1665 and 1666 alone, or some 100,000 people in the space of two years. But where did all these bodies go?

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Why an American bought the London Bridge

Born on this day, June 7 1761, Scottish civil engineer John Rennie was responsible for three important landmarks in central London: Waterloo Bridge, Southwark Bridge and London Bridge which, in an astonishing deal, was sold (yes, really sold) to an American tycoon in 1968. “London Bridge is falling down, falling down!” This was a popular children’s rhyme despite in the 1960s it wasn’t really falling down. However, surveys showed that it was sinking by about 2.5cm every eight years and, as a result, It would have to be replaced. Ivan…

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Bored? Take a virtual murder tour of medieval London!

On the Wednesday September 14, 1337 the Coroner and Sheriffs were informed that Juliana Prickfield, a washerwoman, had been found dead at the Hospital of St Katherine. The jurors found that at midnight on the preceding Tuesday, Thomas Long of Sandwich, a skinner, had broken into Juliana’s house near the Hospital of St Katherine and attacked her with an ‘Irish knife’, inflicting wounds under the left breast and on her throat, from which she died immediately. The assailant stole a strongbox containing money and jewels and then fled, but the…

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#April 16, 1850: Madame Tussaud’s dies on this day. Her bloody background

Anna Maria “Marie” Tussaud, the woman behind one of London’s most famous tourist attractions, died on this day, April 16 1850, at the age of 89. She had spent a lifetime creating lifelike waxworks of the famous and the infamous, from murderers to monarchs, from pop stars to politicians, from the beautiful to the odd. The seeds of her curious destiny were sewn two months before she was born at Strasbourg in 1761 when her father, a German soldier, was killed in battle. His death forced his young widow to…

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#March 27, 1887: Prince Albert Memorial’s architect died on this day

Sir George Gilbert Scott (in Photo), the English architect who designed the Albert Memorial, located in London’s Hyde Park, died on this day, March 27 1878. Queen Victoria was described as an “utterly broken-hearted and crushed widow” when in 1861 her beloved husband, Prince Albert, died in their Windsor Castle at the age of 42. In his honour, she had the Albert Memorial built at a cost of £120,000 – about £10.5 million ($17 million) in today’s money. Standing 54 meters high and featuring a huge seated gilt bronze statue…

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The mystery of the Vampire of Highgate Cemetery in northern London~

In north London, England, in the old suburb of Highgate lies the homonymous cemetery. Here are approximately 170,000 people buried in 53,000 graves across the Highgate‘s West Cemetery and the East Cemetery, a graveyard notable both for some of the people buried there as well as its status as a nature reserve. The cemetery’s grounds are full of trees, shrubbery and wildflowers, most of which have been planted and grown without human influence, including a 300 year-old Cedar of Lebanon. However, there can’t be many people with an interest (or…

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Travel by rail across 14 countries around the world? Now is possible!

For travellers who want to explore the world by train, there is a fantastic new: a newly-launched trip that may be a dream come true! The English website Railbookers has launched a journey called “Around the World by Rail”, which gives travellers the opportunity to discover four continents, 14 countries and over 20 cities. The 56-day trip also takes in some of the world’s most popular train rides along the way, including the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia. Even though the trip is curated to begin and end…

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Portraits from Bedlam: 17 photographs from one of the most infamous mental hospital of the 19th Century

It was called Bethlem Royal Hospital, but it was nicknamed “Bedlam”, London’s famous horror hospital. Founded in 1247, It was the first mental health institution to be set up in Europe, and reaches up to the present day, resulting still active today in the heart of the English capital. Among the most famous treatments are the “rotational” treatments, invented by Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of the most famous Charles, which involved positioning the patient on a chair suspended in the air that was turned for hours, with the declared aim of…

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England’s (almost) forgotten pet massacre of 1939

In the first week of September, 1939, London’s animal shelters were overflowing with guests. The queues of people and their pets meandered down the streets in a typically British manner, calm, dignified and orderly. However, the owners of dogs, cats, rabbits and even parrots and other birds who were waiting to visit vets and animal charities were harbouring a terrible secret. All pet-owners were waiting to euthanize their pets, even if none of the animals were dying, and none of them were even sick. The distraught Londoners had brought them…

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50 Berkeley Square: the Chilling Stories of the Most Haunted House in London

The late Georgian-style building at number 50 Berkeley Square looks harmless enough, but was once known as the most haunted house of London. Today it is best known as one of the ancient buildings of the capital that has remained unchanged over time. Although his reputation as a cursed house has faded a little in recent years, these four residential floors have been at the center of chilling horror stories, according to which unfortunate or reckless characters lost their lives. However, even today, visitors are warned to stay away from…

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Little Ease, the torture cell in the London Tower.

In 1534, a man and a woman were stopped a step away from the exit door of Tower Hill in London by a group of night guards. The man was their colleague, John Bawd, and the woman was Alice Tankerville, a convicted thief and a prisoner. So ended the Tower’s first known escape attempt by a woman. But Alice’s accomplice and admirer, the guard John Bawd, was destined to enter the Tower record books too: he is the first known occupant of a peculiar torture cell used during the reigns…

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Pirates and gallows at Execution Dock: nautical “justice” in modern London.

The city of London was once the largest port in the world, and as such attracted its fair share of pirates and smugglers. Try to imagine. Still in the first decades of the 19th century, travelers approaching the port of the city of London on the Thames were greeted by a horrible sight: the river was flanked by a number of gallows, from which corpses hung in decomposition, were exposed in iron cages. The wind rocked the human remains, causing a sinister crunch that terrified sailors. The infamous London Execution…

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The sad Forgotten Lives Of Jack The Ripper’s Victims

If you go to London and you want a dose of the macabre, you won’t be disappointed! We know that Jack the Ripper was a serial Killer that, thanks to his horrible crimes, sadly became a celebrity. His failure to be capture, and the uncertainty about his identity contribute to keep alive, after more than a century from the events, the interest in his criminal life, the places where the murders took place, and the modalities of the crimes. In the district of Whitechapel, where in 1888 Jack the Ripper…

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100 Skeletons show the extreme London poverty at the beginning of the Victorian Times.

Some archaeologists have recently examined a burial site of the first half of the nineteenth century discovered in the parking lot of New Covent Garden, in the south-west area of London, where about 100 skeletons of men, women and children were recovered. These included difficult working conditions, a life in harmful environments, endemic diseases, physical deformities, malnutrition and deadly violence. The discovery of the remains allows a snapshot of the life of the first industrial London, in a period between 1830 and 1850. Bone testimonies are evidence of what Charles…

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