A GUIDE TO LONDON'S HIDDEN AND OFFBEAT PLACES
Uncovering Secret London is brought to you by Joanne and Richard Jones with the avowed intent of introducing visitors and Londoners alike to the unusual, the offbeat and the downright bizarre sites, and sights, of Secret London.
The Capital's well known tourist attractions are well covered on the internet, and an abundance of websites exist on which you can find a great deal of information about them.
But, what of the lesser known, more unusual and secret places with which London abounds? The more offbeat aspects of the Capital's street scene that get passed, sometimes on a daily basis, and, if they're noticed at all, receive little more than a cursory glance, and their full stories are known only to those who, quite often, have just happened upon them by chance.
Yet, the truth is, these little slices of hidden London are often far more fascinating than the well-known, and well trodden, tourist destinations, and seeking them out can be a truly thrilling and rewarding experience.
Here at Uncovering London we hope to do just that and help you become familiar with the lesser known landscape of Secret London.
LONDON THE CITY OF DISCOVERY
This is, very much, a City of discovery and, if you take the trouble to observe, rather than just look at, your surroundings, then you are in for some wonderful treats and surprises
And that is what we at the Uncovering Secret London website are determined to do.
We want to encourage you to observe your surroundings, not just look at them.
HAVE YOU SEEN THE BOY?
For example, how many times have you walked out of St Paul's Underground Station, en route to either your office in Paternoster Square or on Ludgate Hill, or bound for the Cathedral itself?
Some of you, no doubt, make that journey every day. Others, have probably only done so as part of your weekend or vacation stay in London.
But did you, as you left the station, happen notice the little boy sitting on an upturned basket nonchalantly pulling a thorn from out of his foot?
Yet, there he sits, immortalised on a carved stone plaque, trying to remove that irritating thorn, a fruitless task that he has been attempting since 1688.
What's more he's there to mark what was long believed to be the City's highest point!
How intriguing is that?
He is just one of the many pieces of secret London that combine to form this guide to the Curiosities of the Metropolis.
And you'll find many more discoveries like him on the website.
UNUSUAL, ECCENTRIC AND OFFBEAT LONDON
You'll find drinking fountains and statues that hide away in plain view on some of London's busiest main roads.
You'll look afresh at old churches from which deliciously bizarre demons, dragons, gargoyles and grotesques scowl down, their features contorted in eternal fury.
You'll uncover plaques and memorials to delightfully eccentric Londoners whose antics will bring a smile to even the most jaded, careworn faces.
You'll delve into hidden alleyways and tucked away passageways to gaze in wonder at some of the most unusual pieces of street furniture that, no doubt, made sense to somebody once, but which have us, today, scratching our heads in utter bemusement.
You'll be able to while away a few idle hours in some of the City's oldest inns and taverns, contemplating some of their wildly unfathomable fixtures and fittings whilst, at the same time, mulling over the stories of the more colourful clientele that have graced their timeless interiors over the centuries.
And, best of all, by making use of our collection of step by step walks, you'll even be able to spend a morning, an afternoon, or even a whole day, discovering the curious wonders with which London abounds and digging out these golden nuggets of the past.
WE'VE GOT LONDON COVERED
Over the years we've devoted a great deal of energy to hunting down these more unusual aspects of offbeat London.
Our explorations have taken us far and wide and, on the site, you'll find things to see all over the Capital.
We've trudged up to the heights of Hampstead to find places, such as the remote farmhouse to which Charles Dickens retired to recover from the loss of his beloved sister-in-law.
We've delved into the depths of Deptford to uncover the story of the long ago murder of Christopher Marlow, one of the greatest playwrights of all time.
We've traipsed across the sedges of Barnes Common to locate the tree into which Marc Bolan crashed in 1977.
We've cavorted through the streets of Chelsea following in the footsteps of the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and the Sex Pistols and have gazed up at the soaring spire that brought the career of a 19th century aeronaut to an abrupt and inglorious end!
We've stood, ankle deep in the mud of the Thames, looking for traces of the underground rivers that empty into its murky, brown waters.
We've endured curious stares from passersby as we've scrutinised walls hunting for one of the fabled Seven Noses of Soho!
We've even raised a tankard of ale to the battered clock that still bears the scars inflicted by a First World War bomb that destroyed the original pub in which it once marked the passing hours for long ago locals.
And we've loved every moment!
IT'S ALL OUT THERE, WHY NOT GO AND DISCOVER IT?
Our main objective in devising this guide has been for it to become the conduit via which you can uncover London's rich, varied offbeat and secret landscape.
So please use our guide as you see fit.
Use it to plan a whole week of sightseeing, or just to find the story behind one of your favourite fixtures or buildings.
Let it help you discover some of London's most historic and hidden away pubs and let it tell you what to look out for once you cross their thresholds.
Just dip in to it and find something to do on a morning or afternoon off work, or on an outing with a group of like-minded friends.
During the school holidays why not use the locations we feature to put together a treasure hunt to get the kids out and about?
In fact, the website can be put to any purpose you deem appropriate and, we hope, will really help you to appreciate London for the great and fascinating place it truly is.
IT'S BEEN A LABOUR OF LOVE
We've really enjoyed researching the locations that we've included on the site, and our explorations have led us to places that we have genuinely found both intriguing and inspiring.
We hope that you will experience the same sense of wonder that we did when first encountering our featured locations and we'd love to hear your stories if you'd care to share them with us.
After all, there are so many curiosities scattered across London that you could spend a lifetime walking the streets and still not see all of them.
But, in our own little way, we hope to play our part in introducing you to them and we hope you'll agree with us that Dr. Johnson's oft-quoted quip that "when a man (or woman) is tired of London he (or she) is tired of life" is still as true today as it was when it first left his lips over three hundred years ago.
Here's to Secret London. Enjoy!