London has many myths and legends, woven into the history of the city. From murderous ponds to giant beasts roaming the city greenery, here are a few of the most notable ones to look out for when you next visit the UK capital!
1.) Spring Heeled Jack torments Londoners
London has produced a few real-life serial killers, but it can also claim a number of mythological ones which are based on real events. One of the most significant is the tale of Spring Heeled Jack, who first entered the public consciousness in the 1830s as a fire-breathing villain.
This creepy figure, noted for attacking people while pretending to be a policeman, led to a mass hysteria throughout the 1830s and 1840s. Most of the victims were women – and when a man called Thomas Millbank claimed he was Jack, he was eventually arrested and tried for the crimes.
However, this hasn’t stopped Spring Heeled Jack from continuing to make appearances over the years, with the most recent sighting in 2012. There are many theories about who Spring Heeled Jack really was, and a famed theory suggests that the attacker may have been an eccentric aristocrat with a fondness for strange costumes.
Regardless of the true origins of these attacks, we can be certain the attacker never breathed fire, and was a person rather than the spectre Victorians thought he was.
2.) The City of London has no roads
This urban legend sounds so ridiculous that it must be untrue, but on closer inspection while staying at luxury hotel rooms in London you can start to understand how it originated.
London is a historic city, and many of the streets in the City of London were built before the word ‘road’ was included in the English language. For this reason, while there are certainly roads in the area, until 1994 it was entirely made up of differently-titled areas (streets, alleys & squares).
It was not until Goswell Road became part of the City of London following a boundary change that the district got the first of its roads.
3.) An American bought London Bridge
This myth is one which doesn’t seem to want to go away, but it is also just that – a myth. The story says that when the former London Bridge was at risk of collapsing in the 1960s, it was sold to Robert P. McCulloch, an American entrepreneur, who asked for it to be sent to him in Arizona.
There is certainly no evidence that this story is accurate, and one variation even states that the entrepreneur thought he was purchasing Tower Bridge and was disappointed to discover otherwise. It is certainly a funny story, but there’s no basis in fact.
4.) Vampires in Highgate Cemetery
This story might make more sense for anyone who has already been to the atmospheric surroundings of Highgate Cemetery, but as with the rest of the additions on this list, it isn’t true.
The myth only began in 1969, when a visitor spotted a mysterious figure in the cemetery and immediately proclaimed they must be a vampire. Shortly afterwards, locals began visiting the area ready to take on the undead, and the initial hysteria only began to lapse after a man was arrested for consecration of the graves in the cemetery.
Other than this initial strange sighting, there has never been any additional proof of anything creepy at the Highgate Cemetery, but it does make for an interesting place to visit while staying at hotels near Oxford Street London.
5.) The beast of Hackney Marshes
London is noted not only for the many metropolitan areas, but for the rich greenery and numerous gardens, squares and parks. Hackney Marshes is one such place, but unlike the rest of the greenery in London, this place has a strange legend of a ‘beast’ which prowls the marshes.
The story originates in 1981, when four children were walking across the marshes on a chilly winter morning and saw a giant creature they assumed must be a monster. After fleeing the scene, they told their families all about it, and the story soon developed. There have been no subsequent sightings, so we can only assume this is another myth to debunk.
However if you’re feeling superstitious, then it doesn’t hurt to keep a lookout when you visit for yourself!
6.) Green Park has no flowers because of Charles II
This myth suggests that Charles II, one of the more party-loving former monarchs, used to head to Green Park and gather flowers for his wife. However, he is also said to have picked flowers here for his many mistresses, which led to a certain amount of royal jealousy.
The myth states that the Queen had all the flowers removed from the park as a result, leaving Green Park as the only Royal Park in London which doesn’t have any flower beds. While it is hard to verify whether there is any validity to this story at such a historical distance, there are indeed no flower beds in the park.
However, there are plenty of wild flowers growing, so the plan didn’t go entirely to plan. If you feel like seeing Green Park during your visit, it can be reached easily from your Marble Arch hotel.
7.) The deadly pool of Epping Forest
The myth states that there is a pool in Epping Forest which draws people to their deaths. While the tale of a swimming pool with murderous intent is certainly not true, the myth originated when a couple were reputedly murdered next to the pond after being found by the girl’s father, and soon there were tales of bodies appearing on the shore and the pool dragging people into the water.
As a creepy side note, nobody seems to know where the pool is – but it goes without saying that while it is untrue, this particular pond might not be the nicest place for a swim on your next trip to London.