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!

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