Three London Questions No.1
Are there secret surveillance rooms in the back of Marble Arch?
Supposedly they’re there, but they haven’t been used since the 1950s. The arch was modelled on the Arch of Constantine in ancient Rome, and originally built by John Nash in 1828 as an entrance to Buckingham Palace but ended up stranded at the bottom of Edgware Road. In theory, only senior royals and their guards are permitted to pass through the central arch.
Where’s the oldest park in London?
That’d be at Finsbury Circus, the peculiar cut-off area of central London hardly anyone seems to know about unless you live there, mainly because it doesn’t lead anywhere. The circular garden was an Iron Age burial ground and its latest incarnation dates back to 1606, when it was confusingly called Moorfields. There’s still a bowling club here, and a clubhouse that serves Pimm’s. In 1784 it was the site of London’s first hot air balloon flight.
Where’s the only outdoor statue of Elizabeth 1?
That’s at the guild church St Dunstan-In-The-West in Fleet Street. You can only visit it on Tuesdays for some weird reason,or for recitals on Wednesday lunchtimes, and it has the only statue to Queen Elizabeth I carved in her lifetime and a clock flanked by the giant founders of London, Gog and Magog, as well as statues of King Lud, the city’s rebuilder, and his sons. All the statues were originally in Ludgate, as was the legendary pub the King Lud, which survived until 2005 when the property scumlords got rid of it, thus removing another mythic London site.
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