Saturday, 11 March 2017
Book Review: London Curiosities - The Capital's Odd & Obscure, Weird & Wonderful Places by John Wade
Author: John Wade
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books
Publication Date: 30 April 2017
Format: eBook - PDF
Source: ARC via NetGalley
London is full of curiosities. Who knew that beneath the Albert Memorial lies an undercroft resembling a church crypt? Or that there are catacombs under Camden? Who would expect to find a lighthouse in East London, sphinxes in South London, dummy houses in West London, or a huge bust of film director Alfred Hitchcock in North London?
How many of those who walk past Cleopatra's Needle pause to consider why a 3,000-year-old Egyptian monument stands beside the Thames? How many know that what was once London's smallest police station can be seen in Trafalgar Square? Or that pineapples are used in the architectural design of so many buildings? Or why there are memorials to the 'Mayflower' and Pilgrim Fathers in Rotherhithe?
These are just a few of the facets explored, described and illustrated here for anyone in search of the oddly obscure, wonderfully weird and surprisingly strange in this capital of curiosities. (Goodreads Synopsis)
Although I now live in Australia, I was born and grew up in Kent, not far from London. I went to the city often and believe I know it reasonably well. However, I am always fascinated to learn more, so this book appealed to me the moment I saw it listed on NetGalley. I was thrilled when the publisher approved my request to view it, and when I read it, I wasn't disappointed.
Some of the fun, quirky facts Wade shares, I already knew. Nonetheless, there were plenty of things I'd never noticed or realised about familiar places and objects, so it was enthralling to discover the truth about them. I will certainly seek out a few of the spots Wade mentions on my next trip back to the UK. I would recommend this book both for Londoners keen to know more about the fascinating city in which they dwell, and for tourists keen to explore off the beaten track.