With its 2,000 years of history, layered one on top of another, London has quite a few places where it has left a mark, some very unexpected. We all know the Great Fire started at The Monument but do you know how far it got? Where is London’s only Nazi memorial? And what is the connection between Texas and the dark alleyway where London’s last duel was fought?

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Bits Of History 1 2

Crossbones Graveyard

Some 15,000 bodies were buried here before the 1850s, many of them prostitutes. Known as ‘Winchester Geese’ (as they were only allowed to work in the diocese of the Bishop of Winchester), these women could not be buried in consecrated ground. The spot is still dedicated to the ‘Outcast Dead’.

Redcross Way SE1
Tube: Borough

Sotheby’s Sekhmet

Embedded above Sotheby’s entrance is the oldest outdoor statue in London. The Ancient Egyptian black basalt effigy of the lion-goddess Sekhmet, dates to around 1320 BC, older than Cleopatria’s Needle. It has been Sotheby’s muse since the 1880s when it was sold at auction for £40 but never collected by the buyer.

34-35 New Bond Street W1

The London Stone

This mysterious stone has been noted by Shakespeare, William Blake and Dickens, and may predate the Roman era. Once built into the wall of St Swithin’s church – destroyed in World War II – it is surrounded by legend and said to be the mark from which the Romans measured all distances in Britain.

109 Cannon Street EC4
Tube: Cannon Street

The “Nazi” Dog

A tiny gravestone at the top of the Duke Of York steps may be the only “Nazi” memorial in London. Until the start of World War II, the German Embassy was here and this is the grave of the ambassador’s pet dog. Giro - ‘Ein treuer Begleiter’ (a true friend) - was a terrier who was accidentally electrocuted in 1934.

7-9 Carlton Gardens SW1
Tube: Charing Cross

First Bomb, World War II

‘On this site at 12.15am on the 25th August 1940 fell the first bomb on the City of London in the Second World War.’ Aircraft factories in South London were probably the target but the pilot was off-course. (Dr Who fans may recognise Fore Street from a 1968 Cybermen battle.)

Fore Street EC2
Tube: Moorgate

First Bomb, World War I

The night of 30 May 1915 was the first Zeppelin raid on London but no searchlight, gun or plane even saw the high-flying airship. LZ38 dropped 120 bombs, killing seven (including two children) and destroying seven houses. The first bomb fell in the garden of the former Nevill Arms Public House.

31 Nevill Road N16
Rail: Stoke Newington

St Mary Aldermanbury

Destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666 and rebuilt  by Wren,
St Mary’s was gutted by WWII bombing. In 1966 it was rebuilt to Wren’s design in Fulton, Missouri, using the remaining stonework, as a memorial to Sir Winston Churchill who made his famous ‘Iron Curtain’ speech in Fulton in 1946. Visit at night to see it at its best.

20 Aldermanbury EC2
Tube: Moorgate


Broad Street Pump

The John Snow pub in the background is a clue to the importance of this Soho pump. Dr Snow made the connection between cholera and water contaminated by sewage. He took the handle off the pump here to stop people drinking from it after tracing a cholera outbreak to this area (then Broad Street) in 1854.

Broadwick Street W1
Tube: Oxford Circus