Okay, so jaw-dropping might be a bit melodramatic but the fact is there are some pretty amazing stories that likely will give you pause if you happen upon the location of the tale. At least it did with me. In a city as old as London, there are countless secrets and hidden pockets through the endless alleys and cobblestone streets. The legends have appeared in books, plays, musicals, and movies, the city coming to life around these tales of yore.
Think about London and its historical tales of vengeance, death, and even joy and the characters that have brought them to life. We had Sherlock Holmes, Mary Poppins, James Bon, Jack the Ripper, and Harry Potter all within the realm of London.
While those characters have long lived in the mind of readers everywhere, in some cases, they were based in truth. Whether it be a folklore tale passed down through generations or a spine-chilling legend, some of these stories are downright creepy while still others are quite funny indeed.
The Black Sewer Swine of Hampstead
Who doesn’t love bacon? I mean, it’s been added to practically everything to give it a little extra taste. To be honest, it can sometimes be difficult to geta way from the flavor of bacon. But as you might have guessed, I’m not talking about the glorious strips of crackling delight in the frying pan, no I’m talking about something quite different. This bacon comes in the form of the Black Sewer Swine of Hampstead and has no interested in letting your fry it in any way.
This legend is based in fact. There were black swine in the sewer. At some point, whether by hook or crook, pigs became trapped in the sewers. Apparently too much trouble to rescue they were allowed to feed and breed but more than that they grew to monstrous proportions in and environment where they were the apex predator. In case you are wondering, yes, they are still there.
There Are no Roads in London
Believe it London has no roads. I guarantee that if you look out any window across this great city there will not be a single road in sight. Yeah, okay, okay it’s about semantics but still, there is no thoroughfare with the name road attached to it. There are lanes and squares and avenues and even streets but no roads.
That’s a good question. So, when the roadways were being built there was no such word as roads. The word hadn’t been introduced to the English language yet.
The Corpse Train of Whitechapel
While the Tub has been existence for quite some times and ferried a good number of passengers to and from their destinations, it has also been used for a darker purpose. With wave after wave of terrifying diseases and epidemics galore, the mortality rates were climbing faster than the bodies could be disposed of. Gross, right? Well, the solution at the time was to use the Tube to send them to the morgue. Perfect solutions except when live passengers were taken to the morgue wondering why they couldn’t get off at their stop.
Be wary of traveling the Tube at night or you might end up at the wrong end of the line.
The Dog in a Suitcase
It sounds a bit like the start of terrible joke, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. It’s the start of a true tale. I’ve heard this from many different sources so this is not some one of drunken tale offered up for a free pint.
Most tales like this one start with the teller saying it’s about a friend of a friend and so on and this one is no different. This is about someone having to take care of a dog while the dog’s owner (girlfriend, friend, coworker) had to leave on a trip. Well, unfortunately through no fault of the caregiver, the dog passed away and they were left with a dog corpse and no idea of how to dispose of it. No one wants to be seen carrying a dead dog around town, right? So, what to do?
Well, if you’re a forward-thinking individual, you simply put him in a suitcase and transport him on the Tube to the vet for incineration.
That’s all well and good and while a gross story, it’s pretty boring, right? Well, that’s because we haven’t gotten to the good part yet. This suitcase filled with Sparky or Buddy or Lulu is stolen by a thief who takes off with what he presumes to be some valuables.
So, what’s the punchline. The only one that fits. Just imagine the thief opening the suitcase back in his flat waiting to count his take only to find a dog carcass inside.
Ravens at the Tower
This story has circulated for centuries. It is said that if ravens ever fully leave the Tower of London, then the crown will fall and the kingdom crumble. Children can recite this tale as can most every tourist who has gone on the Tower of London tour.
Believe it or not there is a job title of Raven Master on the payroll. What do you suppose his job is? That’s right to take care of the ravens and make sure they don’t leave.
There are a great many ravens who have become imprisoned in the tower. Believe it or not, they are considered soldiers of the British Kingdom. Even more startling? The ravens were considered so vital to the kingdom that Winston Churchill arranged for special protection of the birds during World War II.
The Flowerless Park
This next story concerns Charles the Second who was known as the Merry Monarch. He used to enjoy picking flowers for his wife from Green Park. On the face of it, one might think him very sweet. And while he might’ve been he wasn’t only sweet to his wife. He was also picking flowers for other women.
Shame on you Chuck!
Knowing of Charles’s love of flowers and his penchant for picking them for his lovers, the Queen ordered all flowers removed from the park. While this might seem like a good idea, it didn’t stop his philandering ways because he ended up fathering twelve illegitimate children.