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Throughout its long history London went through many transformations and now it is one of the most fast-growing cities in the world. If you are planning to visit or better relocate to London you will be amazed amongst other things at how many crazy street names there are. Some sound funny, some are clearly vulgar but they all have a fascinating story behind them. And let's not even start with how many important celebrities and historical figures have made London their home throughout the years. Let's dive into the amazing urban history of the old British capital and explore some of the most bizarre and unbelievable stories of street naming there is.
If you are a tourist, you will definitely want to visit the Gherkin skyscraper, one of the most iconic buildings in the capital. However, you may not have enough time to learn about the history of the street it is built on. Even people who are born in London or those who just had a house move there are now aware of the tale of St Ursula. Let's start at the beginning.
The streets on which the famous skyscraper is located is called St Mary Axe and the name comes from the medieval church that once was there. The church's name was St Mary, St Ursula, and her 11,000 Virgins. Have you ever heard a more bizarre name? But the tale behind it is even more strange. The name refers to the legend of St Ursula and her journey back to Britain. In 451 AD she and her 11000 virgin maids were captured by the Huns and brutally murdered. It was believed that the axe used to decapitate St Ursula was hidden deep into the church's catacombs. Nobody ever found such a morbid artefact, nevertheless, this makes a good Halloween story, don't you think?
Speaking of morbid names and the stories behind them, have you ever heard the tale of Bleeding Heart Yard? This is a perfect example of what happens when a far-fetched urban legend starts a life on its own. It all began with the story of Elizabeth Hatton and her supposed murder back in the seventeenth century. Her body was believed to be the found “torn limb from limb with her heart still pumping blood onto the cobblestones.” This was a great news sensation and people believed that the murderer was none other than the jealous Spanish ambassador Diego Sarmiento de Acuña, Conde de Gondomar. Not able to win the heart of his beloved Elizabeth in an act of desperation the man killed the love of his life. It is the perfect crime of passion and lust and the people loved it.
Unfortunately, this story can be so far from the truth as it is. For starters, we are not sure if there was really a murder or the stories in the newspapers were all fake. A woman with the name Elizabeth Hatton really existed but she died of an old age almost twenty years after the supposed murder. Diego Sarmiento de Acuña was indeed the Spanish ambassador in this period but there is no solid evidence that he had a romantic connection with Elisabeth.
Nevertheless, it is a fascinating story that will definitely impress your relatives back home.
You are most likely to encounter this street if you passed by it during the relocation of your belongings to London, since there are no big tourist attractions near it. However, it is an amusing story, and it is worth telling even if you don't have enough time to visit it when you are in the capital.
The name of the road has nothing to do with laughter and everything to do with architecture. Let us explain, a ha-ha is a deep, grassy ditch that is used as a boundary for the country properties. In one hand it is used to stop the cattle from escaping, and on the other, it serves as a fence without actually obscuring the great view of the landowners.
This particular ha-ha was built during the reign of King George II and if you search for it, you can still find some original pieces of it.
Here is another street that may not be included in your tourist visit but you may have heard about it if you live in London. It is named after an amazing individual whose story is worth telling.
Flowers close is a tiny street located near Gladstone Park. It is named after Tommy Flowers who used to work at the Post Office Research Center adjacent to the street. Thomas Harold Flowers was a man with incredible capabilities and knowledge. During WWII working as an engineer in the British Post Office, Flowers designed and constructed the world's first programmable, electronic computer - The Colossus. The invention was so big thus the name, that it occupied a whole room.
Unfortunately, everything Thomas Flowers did and his key role in the war had to stay secret for almost two decades. He finally received the acknowledgement he deserved in the late 1970s. Since then he became a published author and in 1977 was made an honorary Doctor of Science by Newcastle University. In 2016 the Tommy Flowers Institute was established in London to help young researchers and academics with their constant quest for knowledge.
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