26 January 2015

London - my love in 3 quirks; Ominous nursery rhymes, knockers and basement rivers

This adopted city of mine is awash with many hundreds of years worth of intriguing stories, urban legends, historical enigmas, folk tales and human stories of fascinating behaviours - and that's just the newspapers - huh!

That aside, it makes for incredible explorations and story hunting through cobbled streets and narrow alleyways.

Quirky things to do in London - Adventures of a London Kiwi

Church bells ring ominous Nursery Rhymes

The origins to the cockney nursery rhyme 'Oranges and Lemons' sung with unknowing irony by young children much like the origins of Ring-a ring-a rosie, removed from the jungle gym are rather sinister and strange. Physically the rhyme ends (at least in my old playground) with a child being caught between the joined arms of two others, emulating the act of chopping off their head.

Quirky things to do in London, Oranges and Lemons - Adventures of a London Kiwi

Quirky things to do in London, Tower of London - Adventures of a London Kiwi

"Oranges and Lemons" say the bells of St Clement's
"Bull's eyes and targets" say the bells of St Margaret's.
"Pokers and tongs" say the bells of St John's.
"Pancakes and fritters" say the bells of St Peter's.
"Two sticks and an apple" say the bells of Whitechapel.
"Old Father Baldpate" say the slow bells of Aldgate.
"Maids in white aprons " say the bells of St Katharine's.
"Brickbats and tiles" say the bells of St Giles'.
"Kettles and pans" say the bells of St Anne'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.
"Pray when will that be?" say the bells of Stepney.
"I'm sure I don't know" says the great bell of Bow.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
Chip chop, chip chop, the last man's dead.

Best knockers in the country
Each and every time I encounter another beautiful knocker (once getting over the initial urge to rap it) I always begin to wonder at the story behind it. Is it a relic of the home's original Victorian history used by rich young women after a night dancing with their beau? Was it found in the car boot of a antiquing entrepreneur? Is it a modern knock-off added to a brand new door by a family wishing to prove their new-found fortunes have endowed a touch of class? 

Quirky things to do in London - Adventures of a London Kiwi

One of the stores has a river running through the basement
On your travels around fashionable Bond Street, in the second (non-interconnecting) building of Grays Antiques, admist the many indepenstant antique stalls, downstairs in the basement is a whole 'nother level of quirkiness. When the building was renovated in the 1970s, the basement was underwater, and is thought to be the culverted Tyburn River (or a tributary). It's claimed that here in Gray's basement is the only place you can see it as running water, and so a decorating genius decided to make it into a water feature.

Quirky things to do in London, Grays Antiques - Adventures of a London Kiwi 

And this is why I love my London. There simply isn't anywhere like it in the world!


  1. I have been to London only a handful of times and mostly I've just focused on the food and the shopping. I really need to do more cultural things next time :-)


  2. London is so sprawling it's much better to focus on one aspect at a time :)

  3. Aren't they just incredible? I love how they pop up in the most unexpected of places!

  4. Shikha (whywasteannualleave)27 January 2015 at 19:19

    Your eye for detail is just brilliant - I've never even really notices door knockers - literally would never have thought to think anything of them but after reading this, I'll be looking at them in a whole new light now!

  5. this is pretty cool! i love that bells rhyme and that river is sweet!


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