This day in London’s History
1381: Peasants’ Revolt reaches Blackheath.
Wat Tyler, Jack Straw, John Bull and several thousand other aggrieved workers assembled on the great heathland south of Greenwich as a prelude to London’s biggest ever poll tax riot. The mob entered the city on the following day and began breaking things — Savoy Palace, John of Gaunt’s home, the Archbishop of Cantebury’s neck… The revolt was finally quashed a couple of days later at Smithfield (or Mile End; sources vary). Boy king Richard II had Wat Tyler murdered which, rather than angering the mob further, somehow diffused the situation. Their great legacy? To this day, vignettes such as this one must obey the tradition of squeezing hilarious double meaning out of the phrase ‘the peasants are revolting’.
London fact of the week
Google Jack Straw and the first hit, of course, is not Wat Tyler’s famous lieutenant, but the former foreign secretary of the same name. The original Straw has, however, maintained some semblance of legacy by having a famous pub named after him. Jack Straw’s Castle stood at one of the highest spots on Hampstead Heath for several centuries (inevitably, Charles Dickens drank here). Unfortunately, it has been rebuilt several times and was recently converted into luxury flats.
London person of the week
Sammy III, a budgie from South Woodford who was recently stopped and searched by police. The famous avian is the third in his line to attract media attention. Sammys I and II have, between them, ‘whistled the national anthem to the Queen, appeared on the Richard and Judy show and became the first non-human to ride on the London Eye’.
One thing you must do in London this week
Scrutinize the program for Architecture Week and the London Architecture Biennale, which begin on Friday. There are many and varied events taking place that you won’t want to miss out on.
One thing you must not do in London this week
Try and go for a nice quiet pint on Thursday Evening.