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A London Peculiar

Rafe Heydel-Mankoo

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Foundling Hospital set up 1739 to care for unwanted babies. One of its early governors was the artist William Hogarth. As a fundraiser he donated a handsome portrait painting and encouraged other artists to do the same. This led to the first public art gallery.

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No 10 Hyde Park used to be known as London's smallest house, just over a meter wide. It was originally built to block a small alley that gave grave-robbers access to the graveyard at St George's Fields. (It is now incorporated into the convent next door, so probably no longer qualifies.)

London puts Blue Plaques on buildings with famous history. So adjacent houses in Brook St have plaques - one for Jimi Hendrix, who lived at No 23 in 1968, and one for the composer Handel, who lived at No 25 from 1723 till his death in 1759.

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No 10 Downing St no longer available for selfies bc of security concerns, but a ver near fascimile at No 10 Adam St near the Strand.

Cholera epidemic Broad St 1854 stopped by Dr John Snow who first mapped the houses where people died, and then convinced authorities to take handle off the pump at Broad St (later found that a cesspit was leaking into the well). The only inhabitants of Broad St not affected were the monks of a local monastery. Snow surmised that they were drinking brewed beer rather than contaminated water. So probably fit that the pub across the road from the pump is named after him.

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Set into both sides of the Thames Embankment are a series of bronze lion's heads, each clenching a giant ring in mouth. Obviously meant for mooring small boats, but also gave rise to a short ditty about flooding.

When the lions drink, London will sink
When it's up to their manes, we'll go down the drains
And when the water is sucked, rhen we're all .... in trouble.

The London Library has extremely generous loan conditions - borrowers don't need to return the book until another member requests it.

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On the south side of Trafalgar Square is a statue of King Charles I. This is the oficial center of London, and the spot from which all distances are measured.

If you stand on the east side of Trinity Square Gardens ( a small walkway on the roof of Tower Hill Station) you get a unique view of 3 structures built about 1000 years apart. On your left is a sction of the London Wall, its footings dating to 200 AD. Diretcly in front of you is the White Tower (part of the Tower of London), built by William the Conqueror in 1078. And to your right, across the river, you see the gleaming skyscraper The Shard, completed in 2013.

There is a bronze statue of George Washington outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. After the War of Independence, he vowed he would never again set foot on British soil. So the statue sits on a small plot of earth from Virginia.

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