Once upon a time our ancestors held many strange beliefs and superstitions. Huddled around their fires or in ale houses, they would swap stories of Witches and Alchemists, and recall characters from the past whose escapades on retelling over time turned them into larger than life legends.
This book offers you a taster of some of the customs, events and characters that have become part of London’s folklore. There is a selection of some of the odd events and people who roamed the streets of Old London Town. You will find a calendar of customs that are still celebrated, many are open for the public to enjoy. Some of London’s more important bridges have stories to tell, and of course no book about London folklore would be complete without some rhymes, none more well-known than Oranges & Lemons.
London has captivated hearts and imaginations through lore and literature for centuries. Still lovingly referred to as ‘The Big Smoke’, it evokes images of crowded, bustling streets, lively with the cries of market-stall owners, buildings stained black with soot, and Dickensian charm. Popular culture paints the city as a progressive yet quaint city, smart and quintessentially English in nature, with costermongers selling fruit on street corners, paperboys calling out headlines of the latest news, and old women selling bags of seed to feed the pigeons of Trafalgar Square. In reality, London is a city filled with surprises, each district having its own distinct feel. From the grandeur of Westminster to the urban edginess of Tower Hamlets, every district meets you with pride and a distinction from its neighbour. Every district has its own history and tales to tell.
London has influenced culture and literature greatly, but is a very different beast to the city it once was or the stereotypes that we might imagine. It is a city that straddles the meridian line from which the hours of the world are measured. It is a city of wealth and promise, calling to men like Dick Whittington to seek their fortune. It is a city of shining towers, art and culture, music halls and theatres. It is a city of cut-throats and thieves, of smugglers and witches. It is a city of heroes, great minds and establishments, where ancient guilds still to this day are represented through the companies representing various trades.
London is a city that finds its own riches through the swirling stew of the people that dwell within it, both British born and from nations around the world. It has always been a melting pot of cultures, from Roman days and possibly before. It is in London where these people meet, share their stories and make new ones of their own through the histories they forge.
Delve a little deeper, peer beyond the glass-fronted skyscrapers, and you will discover that London still holds many secrets and gems for you to discover. Throughout the city, plaques can be seen naming the sites of events such as the bakery on Pudding Lane which started the Great Fire of London in 1666, or the homes of alchemists and astrologers like William Lilly, who studied his arcane crafts on The Strand and through his divinations predicted the Great Fire itself.
Beneath your feet, ancient ruins lie, remnants of a Roman city razed to the ground by an enraged Queen Boudica of the Iceni tribe. All about, the city speaks to you, sharing its stories. All one has to do is pause from the commotion of the busy streets, and listen. From legends of King Arthur and ancient Britain, to superstitions and witchcraft, giants, legend and myth dwell here still in this, England’s capital city.
Released: June 2018
Size: 180 x 110mm
Author: Pollyanna Jones