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London Secrets Hidden In Plain Sight

London Secrets Hidden In Plain Sight

London’s Secrets Hidden In Plain Sight

They say there are two rules for succeeding in life:

1. Don’t tell people all your secrets.
2.

And we’re brazenly breaking both of them, by letting you in on this list of the capital’s more secluded spots, lesser-known quirks, and hidden oddities that are right there in the open…

Behold, our pick of London’s secrets.

There’s A Secret Garden in Central London | Covent Garden

london's secrets

To anyone who was disappointed to realise Covent Garden isn’t actually a garden, we present this verdant, community-managed refuge – home to birds, bees, and the West End’s only frogs.

Details: 21 Stacey Street, WC2H 8DGOpen daily, 8.30am – 6.00pm

There Are Pelicans in St. James’s Park | St. James’s

london's secrets

Credit: Amber Gowens Hirschberg/Flickr

And don’t they just make sure eeeeverybody knows it.

Details: St. James’s Park, SW1A 2BJ Open daily, 5am-midnight

You’ve Heard of the Noses of Soho? Well, There are Also the Ears of Covent Garden.

london's secrets

Credit: Betsy Weber/Flickr

Yes, hidden in plain sight all over Covent Garden, you’ll find plaster cast ears (moulded from the head of artist Tim Fishlock) up on the walls.

Details: All over Covent Garden (but there are two on Floral Street to get you going)

The Smallest Police Station in Great Britain is… in Trafalgar Square

london's secrets

Felipe Tofani / Flickr

Go to the eastern edge of Trafalgar Square, and you’ll see a small pillar with a door in it. This was, until recently, the smallest police station in London, used for coppers to keep a close eye on the crowds who routinely gathered in the square to celebrate/protest.

Details: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN

There’s Also a Very Small Piece of America in Trafalgar Square

london's secrets

Dion Hinchcliffe / Flickr

In 1921, our good friends the Americans sent us a statue of George Washington as a kind of kiss-and-make-up gesture for the whole ‘revolution’ thing. The only problem? Washington himself had declared that he would never again set foot on British soil. So, some American soil was sent over from Virginia with him. He still stands on it today.

Details: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN

There are 21 Hidden Rivers Flowing Beneath Your Feet

london's secrets

Jim Linwood / Flickr

You though the Thames was the only river in London? Pshhht. There are 21 hidden rivers, mostly underground. But you can see a few of them pop their aquatic necks above ground, including the River Fleet (adorably competing with the Thames as it runs under Blackfriar’s Bridge), and the Effra under Vauxhall Bridge.

Details: All over London

The North Korean Embassy is in a Suburban House in Ealing

london's secrets

No, the North Korean Embassy isn’t in Marylebone. Or Westminster. It’s in a detached house at 73 Gunnersbury Avenue, in Ealing. There are no armed guards, no security patrols. The ambassador’s name is “His Excellency Mr Choe Il”.

Details: 73 Gunnersbury Ave, W5 4LP

There’s A Subterranean Silver Vault Beneath our Streets | Chancery Lane

london's secrets

The closest thing we have to Gringotts is this underground village of silversmiths, whose shops are crammed with antique silver, from 16th century goblets to art deco teapots.

Details: The London Silver Vaults, Chancery Lane, WC2A 1QS

Brixton Has Its Own Windmill | Brixton

london's secrets

Credit: Kevan/Flickr

It went into disuse because new houses built in the Victorian era literally blocked all the wind.

Details: Windmill Gardens, West end of Blenheim Gardens, Off Brixton Hill, SW2 5EU Tours re-open Spring 2018

Bayswater Has Two Fake Houses | Bayswater

london's secrets

Now amongst the better known of London’s secrets thanks to Sherlock, two houses on this terraced stretch are, in fact, a practically 2D facade to disguise an open-air stretch of railway track where trains let off steam – and to this day remain the most amusing address to give to someone you don’t like.

Details: 23-24 Leinster Gardens, W2 3AN

Thomas Hardy Made a Collection of Gravestones in King’s Cross | King’s Cross

london's secrets

Credit: Adrian Snood/Flickr

King’s Cross has a tree standing in it surrounded by artfully placed gravestones. These gravestones were relocated during railway construction in the 19th century by a young Thomas Hardy, who, happily for him, managed to scrape a decent living as a writer later in life…

Details: Parish of Old St. Pancras, Pancras Road, NW1 1UL

The Savoy Still Has A Sewer Gas Powered Lamp | Strand

london's secrets

Credit: Betsy Weber/Flickr

Yes, it’s London’s only remaining street light powered at least partially by gas from the sewers beneath. And fine, it’s a technically a replica… but there’s still something in the air here.

Details: Carting Lane, WC2R

London’s smallest courtyard is also its most interesting by far… | St. James’s

london's secrets

Probably boasting the highest historic intrigue to square-foot ratio in London, Pickering Place is the city’s smallest courtyard, and has variously played host to secret duels (it is in fact, London’s last duelling spot), bear-baiting, and gambling; a 17th century wine merchants (still standing); and the erstwhile Texan Republic Embassy.

Details: By 3 St. James Street, SW1A 1EA

 

 

Main image: Highgate Cemetery Catacombs, Ann Wuyts/Flickr


Like discovering London’s secrets? Check out our London hidden bar guide


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