This day in London’s history
Is this the dullest date ever in London’s history? The best we can come up with is the completion, in 1807, of some new docks in Rotherhithe. Oh, and Southgate and Enfield West opened on the Piccadilly Line in 1933. Plus some kind of fracas over at the LSE in 1967. Otherwise, March 13 is a day of meager excitement in the capital’s calendar. Unless you can find anything better.
London fact of the week
Everyone’s heard of Big Ben, the famous bell of Westminster’s Clock Tower. But few will have heard of Great Tom, its near cousin in St Paul’s Cathedral. Great Tom was originally gifted to the Cathedral in 1698 from the Palace of Westminster, whence it had peeled for centuries on a site close to where Big Ben now hangs. Unfortunately, it was damaged in transit at Temple Bar (nearby Bell Yard is said to be named for the accident). After a series of recastings, the current Great Tom was finished at the famous Whitechapel Foundry, which also spawned Big Ben and the Liberty Bell. Great Tom can be heard here. The cathedral also houses Great Paul (photo), which at 17 tons is the largest bell in the country.
Londoner of the week
Our omniscient alien overlords, who have been taking in the sights of Wandsworth Town.
One thing you must do in London this week
The Benjamin Franklin House has recently opened close to Charing Cross. This is not just yet-another period museum in the mold of the Dickens House. Instead, a costumed guide escorts small groups through the rooms, recreating the great man’s 16 year stay in the house through projections and sounds. Tickets must be booked in advance, here.