London is still a Victorian city at its core. Many of our buildings, our railway and tubes — even our sewers — date from this period. See how many points you can score in our Victorian London quiz.
1. Which bridge did Queen Victoria open on the same day as Holborn Viaduct?
2. ‘Soup strainers’, ‘thigh ticklers’ and ‘Piccadilly weepers’ were all forms of what?
3. Which iconic piece of headgear was invented in London in 1849, initially to protect horse riders from low tree branches but later finding more ubiquitous use?
4. What colour was only ever worn by the extremely rich until the 1850s, when the teenage William Perkins discovered a cheap synthetic dye while mucking about with chemicals in his bedroom?
5. Which part of London has pubs called the Edinburgh Castle, Dublin Castle, Windsor Castle and Caernarfon Castle — often said (though it's an urban myth) to have been built to keep separate the railway navvies from the different home nations?
6. Which Victorian artist made a canvas called Jack the Ripper’s Bedroom, and has since been accused by novelist Patricia Cornwell of actually being the Ripper?
7. Set up in 1839 as a rival to Epsom and Ascot, where in London would you have found the Hippodrome racecourse?
8. Which London train station is mentioned most often in the novels of Charles Dickens?
9. Which park opened in 1869, named after a part of London that is a good three miles away?
10. Bronco, a company commemorated by a plaque in Hackney Wick, was most famous for which household product?
11. William Cowle died in the upstairs room of the Carlisle Arms, Soho in 1893. What unlikely object did he choke on?
12. With what disease is namesake of the John Snow pub in Soho most associated?
13. Which fictional Victorian described London as ‘that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained’?
14. In 1872, a bunch of public school boys defeated the British Army in Kennington, after the Scots were unable to afford their rail fares. What famous event does this loosely describe?
15. Edward Jones is famous for stalking Queen Victoria over many years, and breaking into Buckingham Palace when he was just 14. What item did he stuff down his trousers during that first break-in?
Answers below (scroll down)
1. Blackfriars Bridge. They both inhabit the valley of the former River Fleet, and share similar architectural flourishes and a red colour scheme.
3. Bowler hat (or Derby hat)
4. Purple/mauve. William Perkin made the discovery on Cable Street, and went on to revolutionise the dye industry.
5. Camden Town. The long-standing myth has been demolished by Peter Watts, among others.
6. Walter Sickert. Patricia Cornwell has now written two books making the claim.
7. Notting Hill. More here.
8. None of them! Dickens didn't mention a single London train station in any of his novels, as we discovered by reading and mapping every book.
9. Finsbury Park — named after the ancient borough of Finsbury, just north of the Square Mile.
10. Perforated toilet paper.
11. A billiard ball. He placed the ball in his mouth for a bet, but bit off more than he could chew.
12. Cholera. John Snow famously mapped incidences of the disease to find they centred on the local pump, showing that cholera was a water-borne disease.
13. John Watson (in A Study in Scarlet) — not Sherlock Holmes as is often imagined.
14. The first FA Cup final, played at Kennington Oval between Wanderers (mostly drawn from former pupils of posh schools) and the Royal Engineers (from the British Army). Wanderers won 1-0.
15. The Queen's underwear