A collection of unusual facts

London Monument

The Monument built in 1667 to commemorate the Great Fire of London the previous year is 61 metres high (202 ft). This is also the exact distance from the Monument to where the fire started in Pudding Lane. The column contains a internal winding stone staircase of 311 steps leading to a viewing platform.


The Dome of St Paul’s Cathedral

The supporting stone pillars beneath the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral do not support the dome at all and are mainly decorative. During the construction of St Paul’s Cathedral, city and church authorities concerned that Sir Christopher Wren’s original plan for the dome without pillars were not sound and that the weight of the dome would cause it to collapse without additional support. Despite Wren’s assurances, the authorities insisted on the dome being supported by additional stone pillars. During construction, the dome was shielded from view by scaffolding and Wren ordered that the stone pillars be shortened by several inches so they did not make contact with the underside of the dome. It is only possible to see this gap from eye level and not from the street below.

Wren’s preferred method of supporting the dome by a large wrought iron chain around the base of the dome to stop sideways spread was used instead. This too is not visible from street level. When construction was completed, the authorities never knew the stone pillars did not support the dome and Wren was secretly pleased that his original plans were proved right. Although unnecessary, the stone pillars are now as iconic as the dome itself.


Strange Facts about London

On his death in 1832, Jeremy Bentham the English jurist, philosopher, social and legal reformer left his entire estate to University College, London. He did this on the condition that his body was stuffed, dressed in his finest clothes and mounted on a chair where he could continue to attend the annual meeting of the university’s board of governors. Once a year his body is brought out to preside over the annual debate.






Bales of hay on London taxis

By law, London taxis are still required to carry a bale of hay. All London taxis are registered as “Hackney carriages” and publicly display a plate to this effect. In days of yore, Hackney carriages were  horse-drawn and regulations laid down that no horse should go hungry. It was therefore a requirement that all Hackney carriages carry a bale of hay. Although the horse has long since gone from London streets, the regulation remains unchanged. Presumably as there are no regulations stopping a horse-drawn carriage being used even today, this requirement remains to protect any future horse cabs in the future, possibly when fuel runs out. Fortunately for taxi drivers, this regulation is not enforced today.

Free bed and breakfast – In a Mental Institution

For a period of about 30 years after WW2, under the Mental Health Act a person insisting on admission to a mental health institution could not be turned away. Doctors at institutions had to apply the criteria that no mentally healthy person would want to seek admission therefore by definition, anyone insisting on admission must be mentally unhealthy. It did not take long for the vagrant community, (tramps, hobo’s), to become aware of this. Many vagrants found that by simply knocking on mental institutions doors and insisting on admission, they were given a bath, an evening meal, a clean bed and breakfast in the morning. After breakfast they would tell the institution they no longer wanted to stay at which time they had to be deemed mentally sound and released.

It is rumoured that as vagrants travelled the length of the country, the route they took was often dictated by the proximity of a mental institution.


Shhh – Don’t tell anyone!! 

One of a collection of amusing signs and videos that be can be seen at Failblog.org

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