With its 2,000 years of history, layered one on top of another, London has quite a few places where it has left a mark, some very unexpected. We all know the Great Fire started at The Monument but do you know how far it got? Where is London’s only Nazi memorial? And what is the connection between Texas and the dark alleyway where London’s last duel was fought?

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Bits Of History 1 2

Imperial Measures

Sitting on the steps below the National Gallery to eat their sandwiches, many tourists unknowingly rest on the standard Imperial measures of length, set into the granite stonework in brass. Here’s where you can check the length of a perch, a pole, a chain, a yard and various other obscure measures.

Trafalgar Square WC2
Tube: Charing Cross

Centre of London

On a busy traffic island below Trafalgar Square is a statue of King Charles I looking towards Whitehall, where he was beheaded. On this site once stood Queen Eleanor's Cross (a replica of which is now in front of Charing Cross station), and it is the place from which all distances to London are measured.

Trafalgar Square WC2
Tube: Charing Cross

Texas Embassy

After Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836, the new country sent a Charge d'Affaires to the Court of St James’s. This, the closest embassy to the palace, was in offices rented from Berry Bros from 1842-1845. London’s last duel is said to have been in this tiny Georgian alleyway.

Pickering Place SW1
Tube: Green Park

Berry Bros & Rudd

Set up as a grocers in 1698, the large scales to weigh coffee were also used to measure customers. Its ledgers record the weights of poet Lord Byron, Admiral Horatio Nelson, his mistress Lady Hamilton and Queen Victoria's father.

3 St James's Street SW1
Tel: +44 (0)870 900 4300
Tube: Green Park

The Golden Boy
Of Pye Corner

The Golden Boy marks the extent of the Great Fire of London in 1666. The fire, which started at The Monument, a mile away, ‘was ascribed to the sin of gluttony... and the boy was made prodigiously fat to enforce the moral.’ The cherub once had wings.

Giltspur Street EC1
Tube: St Paul’s

The ‘Roman’ Bath

This lane, down a flight of steps just off Surrey Street, is said to be where Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder plotters met. The bath was once used by Charles Dickens. There’s also the watch house to look out for grave robbers in St Clement Danes church yard. The water comes from St Clement’s holy well.

Strand Lane WC2
Tube: Temple