Pipe down

The great organ in the Royal Albert Hall was the largest in the world when it was built in 1871.  It was rebuilt in 1933 and has an amazing 9,997 pipes …

The Royal Albert Hall

… but the Grand Organ in Liverpool Cathedral has more.

Two sticks and apple, say the bells at Whitechapel …

Oranges and lemons,

Say the bells of St. Clement’s.

You owe me five farthings,

Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

When will you pay me?

Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,

Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?

Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,

Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,

And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!

Diamonds are forever, forever, forever …

Stars can be seen treading the red carpet at Leicester Square’s film premiers. The Square is the heart of the West End entertainment district like Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood,  it is surrounded by floor-mounted plaques with film stars names and cast handprints.

But Leicester Square hasn’t t always been a glamorous location and in1979, when rubbish collectors went on strike, it was used as an overflow dump, earning it the nickname of ‘Fester Square’.

Remember, remember the fifth of November …

L is for London - Fire

Remember, remember the fifth of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot

I see no reason why gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent

To blow up the King and the Parliament

Three score barrels of powder below

Poor old England to overthrow

By God’s providence he was catched

With a dark lantern and burning match

Holloa boys, holloa boys

God save the King!

Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray!

A penny loaf to feed ol’ Pope

A farthing cheese to choke him

A pint of beer to rinse it down

A faggot of sticks to burn him

Burn him in a tub of tar

Burn him like a blazing star

Burn his body from his head

Then we’ll say ol’ Pope is dead.

Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray!

Victoria Embankment

L is for London - CleopatraCleopatra’s Needle in more than 3,000 years old. It was a gift from the Eyptian ruler, but nearly sank on its voyage to London in 1877. It was one of a pair found in Heliopolis and given to the British as a gift in 1819 by the Egyptian ruler Mohammed Ali. Its partner is in Central Park in New York.

Raising standards

When the Queen is at home, you can see her flag, the Royal Standard, flying from the pole on top of Buckingham Palace. In flag protocol, the Royal Standard is supreme. It must only be flown from buildings where the Queen is present. It flies above the Union Jack, Standards of other Royal Family members, and other British flags. It never flies at half staff (although an exception was made following the death of Princess Diana).

Don’t forget the gravy!

L is for London - OXO towerThe OXO Tower was once a meat factory and now houses shops and restaurants.

The Oxo Tower was originally constructed as a power station for the Post Office, built towards the end of the 19th century. It was subsequently acquired by the Liebig Extract of Meat company, manufacturers of OXO beef stock cubes, for conversion into a cold store.

The building was largely rebuilt to an Art Deco design by company architect Albert Moore between 1928 and 1929. Much of the original power station was demolished, but the river facing facade was retained and extended. Liebig wanted to include a tower featuring illuminated signs advertising the name of their product. When permission for the advertisements was refused, the tower was built with four sets of three vertically-aligned windows, each of which “coincidentally” happened to be in the shapes of a circle, a cross and a circle

The building now houses restaurants, design shops and galleries.

We’re going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo …

… do you want to come too, too, too?

L is for London - Giraffe

London Zoo was the first scientific zoo. It was founded by Sir Stamford Raffles, who is better known for founding Singapore (the Lion City). It opened in 1827 in Regents Park and is probably the first place where the word “zoo” was coined.

The animals were evacuated during air raids in World War II, and taken to the animal park in Whipsnade. They were brought back to Regents Park to help with public morale after the war.

Yeoman Warders

L is for London - Yeoman WardersYeoman Warders, or Beefeaters, guard the Tower of London and look after the ravens. The monarchy and Tower will crumble if the ravens ever leave.

Yeomen Warders are best known for their scarlet and gold uniforms which date from 1552 and are worn on state occasions. One of their main ceremonial functions is the daily Ceremony of the Keys, where the gates of the Tower of London are secured each night shortly before 10pm by the Chief Yeoman Warder, escorted by an armed guard of four men.