Five Facts or Folktales of London
I love a good myth about London, and I'm pretty guilty of trying to pass them off as true facts on one to many occasions. But which are my top five?
1. Green Park has no flower beds because of a cheating monarch...
The story goes that Charles II used to come here and pick bunches of flowers for his various string of lovers. His wife Queen Catherine of Braganza found out and was absolutely lived - so ordered all the flowers to be pulled up from the park in a fit of rage. True or not, the park still doesn't have any formal flower beds even today!
2. London's parakeets are all thanks to Jimi Hendrix
The parakeets have become a normal sight across the skies of London, and of course they aren't native to Britain, so whose to blame? It's said that Jimi Hendrix is to thank for these vivid bright green birds, as he kept them as pets in his flat near Carnaby Street in the 1960's until they escaped!
3. London Bridge was sold to an American who was expecting Tower Bridge
This is a popular one, and I'm sure you've heard of the story of an American buying London Bridge and was expecting Tower Bridge? The buyer Robert P. McCulloch was looking for a tourist attraction for his new town Lake Havasu in Arizona, round about the same time London Bridge was up for sale as it was sinking into the river bed. Ofcourse he knew which bridge he was buying, but it does make a good story!
4. London will fall if the ravens leave the Tower of London
Another fairly well know fact/folktale is that if the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it. Another one which has unknown origins, but many link it back to Victorian superstitions. For some reason unknown the number of ravens has to be six, so in recent years the Tower have clocked on to this, and purchased a few backups just incase. They've also announced in recent weeks that they're building a breeding aviary - it seems that a few believe the superstition!
5. 50 Berkeley Square is the most haunted house in London.
In the late 19th century this unassuming house in Mayfair became known as one of the most haunted houses in London, and there's been an awful lot of research into this one. Mr Myers moved in to the property in 1859, a recluse who rarely left the house and the only human contact was with his servant. The stories and legend which surround this house vary, but most say that the spirit of a young woman haunts the attic, a unfortunate soul who threw herself from a top floor window after being abused by her uncle. Her spirit takes the form of a brown mist, but some have reported a white figure, and just a glimpse of her can literally frighten you to death. After little contact with the outside world, Myers locked himself in and slowly went mad with neighbours and passers by apparently hearing his cries and moans throughout the night and day, probably around the time when the rumours of the hauntings began. In 1872 Lord Lyttleton stayed in the attic for a bet he lost with a friend. He brought his shot gun and on seeing the apparition opened fire, but the next morning he could find no explanation. In 1879 the Mayfair Magazine published a piece that a maid who stayed in the attic had gone mad and died in an asylum the very next day. And in 1887, two sailors from HMS Penelope stayed a night in the house, by morning one was found dead and the other reporting he had seen the ghost of Mr Myers approaching them in an aggressive manor. Pretty scary stuff...