1. London gets less rain than New York City.
It’s true. On average, London gets 29 inches of rainfall per year, whereas 47.2 inches fall annually in New York City.
2. Think you know Big Ben? Think again.
The Clock Tower was erected in 1859, and in 2012 it was renamed “Elizabeth Tower” to reflect the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It is the bell within the tower that’s actually called Big Ben – not the tower itself.
However, it’s worth noting that the bell’s official name is “The Great Bell”. “Big Ben” is just a nickname. So, really, not a damn thing in that tower is called Big Ben. Life is a journey.
3. More than 10,000 foxes live in London.
Foxes thrive in parks and gardens, and have even been accused of killing penguins at London Zoo.
4. If you want to drive a black cab in London, you’ll need to memorise 25,000 streets, 320 taxi routes and more than 20,000 landmarks.
All black cab drivers have to learn The Knowledge, an in-depth awareness of the London streets and the quickest ways to navigate them. Using only their brains, and absolutely no sat-navs.
5. London has its own encyclopaedia.
First published in 1983, the London Encyclopaedia gathers knowledge from surveys and handbooks about London published in the 16th and 19th centuries. Why all Londoners aren’t handed one at birth or relocation is another matter entirely.
6. Only 11,000 people live in the City of London.
7. Confused? Well, you see, there’s a city called London and – inside that – there’s the City of London. No really, it has its own flag and everything.
The City is based on the ancient town of Londinium, which was founded by the Romans in AD50, and it covers roughly a square mile slightly to the south of the middle of London itself.
It’s bordered on all sides by the Tube stations of Liverpool Street, Tower Hill, Blackfriars and Barbican. The Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Bank of England, the Monument – these all sit within the boundaries of the City of London.
8. London has two mayors – the Mayor of London, and the Lord Mayor of London. Once is significantly fancier than the other.
9. Within the City of London, there are no roads – just lanes, alleys and streets.
Popular opinion is that this is because the word “road” wasn’t actually coined until the 16th century, and the City of London is far older than that.
10. In fact, the corporation that founded the City of London is older than the UK itself.
The City of London Corporation has been running things in the square mile since approximately 1067, when William the Conqueror awarded the City of London a royal charter of rights. That predates the founding of the UK by at least 700 years.
So they still pretty much do things their own way in the City which, with different taxes and police, makes rubbing along next to greater London itself all sorts of interesting.
11. And finally, the City of London and its laws are so ancient that even the Queen has to ask the Lord Mayor’s permission to enter.
Thankfully, there don’t seem to be any instances of the Lord Mayor saying no. Because that would be totes awks.