24 May 2017 | 11.5 °C

Monday Miscellanea

By Dave Haste Last edited 120 months ago
Monday Miscellanea
Big Ben

This Week In London’s History

  • Monday28th May 1908: Ian Fleming, creator of the character of James Bond and author of more than a dozen novels featuring the British agent, is born in Mayfair. He also wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
  • Tuesday29th May 1886: The current Putney Bridge is opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales, replacing an earlier bridge that was built in 1729. Wednesday30th May 1972: The ‘Angry Brigade’, a group responsible for a large number of bomb attacks in the early 70s, go on trial at the Old Bailey. Thursday31st May 1859: Big Ben rings across Westminster for the first time, although it does not officially go into service until later that year. Friday1st June 1845: A homing pigeon arrives in London, having set off from Namibia some 55 days earlier. Supposedly.

    Random London Fact Of The Week

    Ever heard of the London Stone?

    Well it’s not exactly London’s best-kept secret, but then again it’s not our city’s most widely-known historic artefact either. We may have mentioned it about a year ago, but even that hasn’t done much to raise this amazingly historic relic’s public profile.

    Mounted in a glass case set into the wall of a sports shop near Cannon Street, the slightly incongruous ancient stone is variously claimed to have been:

  • set in place by the Romans upon the foundation of the walled city (at around 50 AD) and used as the place from which all distances in Britain were measured
  • part of the altar from the temple of the goddess Diana, brought to Britain by Brutus of Troy around 3000 years ago
  • associated with ancient druidic ceremonies
  • a marker for an important mystical ley line
  • part of a stone circle that once stood at the top of Ludgate Hill, which was (wrongly) thought to be the highest point of London
  • a symbol of the authority and heart of the city, where proclamations were once made and laws were once passed
  • important for the continued prosperity of London – an ancient proverb claiming that “so long as the stone of Brutus is safe, so long shall London flourish”
  • It’s probably safe to say that not all of these claims are true. However we do know that the stone was originally quite a bit larger than its current surviving remains, and that it used to sit in the middle of Cannon Street itself before being moved to the pavement outside St Swithin’s Church. It soon became what was described as ‘a nuisance’ sitting in the middle of the pavement, so it was set into the wall of the church to keep it out of the way of pedestrians. When the church was demolished following bomb damage from the Second World War, it was stored in the Guildhall Museum for a while, before being finally relocated to its current site at 111 Cannon Street.

    The latest chapter in the stone’s history involves plans to relocate it again, initially to the Museum of London, while the building that currently houses it is demolished.

    More information on the stone, including how ‘cowboy builders’ nearly doomed London by taking a chisel to it (the stone, not the whole of London), can be found in this BBC News article from last year.

    London’s Weather This Week

    Once again the coming week will be a mixture of sunshine and rain. Unfortunately, it’s looking like the emphasis will be on rain, and it’s likely to turn a bit colder than you might normally expect for the next couple of evenings.

    Photo of Big Ben (the bell, not the clock tower named after it) by Deryc Sands, taken from the United Kingdom Parliament website under the terms of Parliamentary Copyright.

    Last Updated 28 May 2007