The Thames is the longest river wholly in England. It’s also got more trivia attached to it than just about any watercourse in the world. For example: along its banks reside the largest inhabited castle on the planet (Windsor), the Mother of Parliaments (Westminster), the biggest dome in the world (the O2), the oldest university in England (Oxford), the birthplace of three Tudor monarchs (Greenwich), the Tower of London, Kew Gardens, and the place where the Magna Carta was signed. Oh, and Reading.
Christopher Winn is the perfect choice to tease out the secrets of the Thames. I Never Knew That About London – his masterful miscellany of three years ago – is one of the most-thumbed books on the Londonist bookshelf. With this new addition to the series, Winn follows the Thames from source to sea through nine counties, firing off facts and figures that even Old Father Thames would find surprising.
Almost 250 pages of riverine minutiae will keep fact fans happy. Our hallowed river has seen everything – from stealth bombers to aristocratic sex parties. While the central London sections may hold few shocks, the less familiar stretches of the river will have you mentally declaring ‘I never knew that’ with almost every sentence. Half an hour with this fascinating volume will have you wanting to both walk the length of the Thames and re-read Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K Jerome pops up on nearly every page.