London Facts for Kids

Updated on May 22, 2016
Big Ben, telling Londoners the time since 1859.
Big Ben, telling Londoners the time since 1859. | Source

London Was Important 2000 Years Ago As a Roman Settlement

With 620 square miles, London is the biggest city in Britain, and in Europe. It was established as a Roman settlement, called Londinium, in 43 AD, almost 2000 years ago.

Of course at that time, it was much smaller than it is now. Londinium occupied the area where the financial centre of London, often simply called "The City" or "The Square Mile," is now found.

Eventually it spread out and now includes 32 boroughs, 13 in "Inner London" and 19 in "Outer London." These include the City of Westminster with its many famous buildings such as the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Westminster Abbey.

London now has the tallest building in the European Union, the Shard, which is 1,016 ft tall. It was opened to the public in February 2013.

The location of the British capital on the River Thames is no coincidence. The river played a very important role in allowing trade ships to bring goods to the city, which caused its growth.

The City, at the site of the original Londinium settlement, has many modern skyscrapers, as befits a financial centre. The most famous perhaps is the officially called "30 St Mary Axe," which is far better known as "The Gherkin," for pretty obvious reasons when you consider its architecture.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The building commonly known as "the Gherkin"The bottom of the gherkin buildingThe inauguration of the Shard in May 2012
The building commonly known as "the Gherkin"
The building commonly known as "the Gherkin" | Source
The bottom of the gherkin building
The bottom of the gherkin building | Source
The inauguration of the Shard in May 2012
The inauguration of the Shard in May 2012 | Source

London is in the Southeast UK

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12.5% of the population of the United Kingdom live in London, one of the most densely populated cities in the World.

Facts About the River Thames

The Thames is the longest river running completely in England. It is 215 miles long. Its source is in the Cotswolds, near the village of Kemble, and it spills into the North Sea near Southend.

The river appears very brown and dirty. This is because of strong tides constantly stirring up its muddy bottom.

The river's name is pronounced as "Temz". Of course this is not the only word in the English language that is not pronounced as it is spelt, but it is curious for such an important landmark.

One theory I had heard was that Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband, could not pronounce "Thames," being German. So as not to embarrass His Highness, everybody said the name the way he did.

However, a more likely explanation is that the name of river was always said with a "t" from Celtic times. The change to a "th" was made by some intellectual snobs who wanted to make it sound more Greek. But the change never took hold in spoken English.

The oldest bridge crossing the Thames is London Bridge. Until 1209 it was wooden, but was then replaced by a stone bridge, then granite and finally concrete.

The newest bridge is the Millennium Bridge, opened in June 2000 to commemorate the new millennium. It was quickly closed 2 days later because it was very wobbly, but reopened in February 2001. I have been on it and it doesn't seem to wobble now.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The river Thames is so murky and dark because its muddy bottom is constantly stirred up by tidal currents.The Millennium Bridge wobbled so badly when it was first opened in 2000, that it had to be closed 2 days later.  The bridge allows people to cross between Tate Modern museum and St. Paul's, which you can see in the picture.
The river Thames is so murky and dark because its muddy bottom is constantly stirred up by tidal currents.
The river Thames is so murky and dark because its muddy bottom is constantly stirred up by tidal currents. | Source
The Millennium Bridge wobbled so badly when it was first opened in 2000, that it had to be closed 2 days later.  The bridge allows people to cross between Tate Modern museum and St. Paul's, which you can see in the picture.
The Millennium Bridge wobbled so badly when it was first opened in 2000, that it had to be closed 2 days later. The bridge allows people to cross between Tate Modern museum and St. Paul's, which you can see in the picture. | Source

The Olympics

London is the only modern city to have hosted the Summer Olympic Games three times: in 1908, 1948 and 2012.

In the 2012 Olympic Games, 205 nations took part. The Paralympics were remarkable in that they were given as much prominence and were as popular with the spectators as the games with healthy athletes.

My favourite part of the Olympics opening ceremony was the Queen parachuting into the stadium with James Bond! You can see that again below.

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The Royal Parks

In the past the Royal Parks were owned by the kings and queens of England (hence they are called Royal). They were mostly used for hunting. Presumably in those days there was more forest and less flower beds.

There are eight Royal Parks: Regent's, St. James, Kensington Gardens, Greenwich, Bushy, Richmond, Hyde and Green Park.

They became open to the public by the Crown Lands Act, in 1851. Before this, unauthorised access and poaching were punishable by death, and worse.

There are many ponds in the Parks, with a variety of waterfowl. All the swans in England, not just in the Royal Parks, are the property of the Queen. Catching and eating swans is technically an act of treason!

St. James Park is pretty special because it has pelicans. The first pelicans to live there were a gift from the Tsar of Russia to King Charles II. The latest gift, three great white pelicans, came from Prague in March of this year.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The pelicans in St. James Park first arrived in 1664 as a gift from the Tsar of Russia.For a metropolis London has a lot of green spaces.It's very gracious of the Queen to allow her subjects to relax on "her" lands.
The pelicans in St. James Park first arrived in 1664 as a gift from the Tsar of Russia.
The pelicans in St. James Park first arrived in 1664 as a gift from the Tsar of Russia. | Source
For a metropolis London has a lot of green spaces.
For a metropolis London has a lot of green spaces. | Source
It's very gracious of the Queen to allow her subjects to relax on "her" lands.
It's very gracious of the Queen to allow her subjects to relax on "her" lands. | Source

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is officially "the Collegiate Church of St. Peter." It is right next to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, and is a "Royal Peculiar" since the days of Elizabeth the First, which means that only the monarch has jurisdiction over it, rather than Bishops.

It started as a Benedictine community in the 10th Century, and was then rebuilt in 1042 by Edward the Confessor, who wanted to have the abbey serve as his burial place.

The Gothic building that survives today was built by Henry III in 1245.

The abbey acted as the place of coronations of British monarchs since William the Conqueror was crowned in it, in 1066. Since 1308 every monarch would sit in King Edward's chair when they were crowned.

Westminster Abbey has also been the venue for many royal weddings, including that of William and Kate Middleton in 2011.

As well as a burial site for royalty, it is also the resting place of many famous British military figures, scientists and writers. It is one of the greatest honours to be buried in the Abbey. Some of the famous people include Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Inside Westiminster's AbbeyAbbey CloistersWestminster Abbey at Night
Source
Inside Westiminster's Abbey
Inside Westiminster's Abbey | Source
Abbey Cloisters
Abbey Cloisters | Source
Westminster Abbey at Night
Westminster Abbey at Night | Source

The Tower of London

The tower of London is an enormous castle and fortress on the north bank of the Thames, built by William the Conqueror in 1078.

Although initially it was used as a royal residence, it soon became better known as a prison, in which various important figures who had fallen into disgrace were held.

Some of the famous prisoners include the Princess Elizabeth, who later became queen and was imprisoned by her sister Mary.

Ravens have traditionally been kept at the Tower. Legend has it that if the birds ever abandon it, London will fall.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Tower of London is also on the banks of the ThamesThe tower included royal residence as well as prisons and fortificationsRavens at the tower are a tradition
The Tower of London is also on the banks of the Thames
The Tower of London is also on the banks of the Thames | Source
The tower included royal residence as well as prisons and fortifications
The tower included royal residence as well as prisons and fortifications | Source
Ravens at the tower are a tradition
Ravens at the tower are a tradition | Source

The Tube

The London Underground was the first underground system in the world. The first tube train journey took place on 9th January 1863.

Only 45% of the network is actually in underground tunnels. Most of the journeys in Outer London are overground.

The total length of the Underground tracks is 249 miles.

The shortest journey you can make on the tube is between Leicester Square and Covent Gardens. It is only 0.16 miles. You would still have to buy a Zone 1 ticket for it, which if you paid cash would work out at £4.50. This would make the cost £28 (about $42) per mile, making it one of the most expensive journeys out there.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Shining Night 

        3 weeks ago

        Can you add more facts please???!!!

      • profile image

        lol 

        4 years ago

        Hi aa lite

        Congratulations on HOTD and so well deserved on this hub. I've been in London many times both for work and hols. Love the bit about the ticket trips. You'd think they would make that one journey free just for good will.

        Great job. Voted up and shared.

      • Eiddwen profile image

        Eiddwen 

        5 years ago from Wales

        A brilliant read and so well infomred.

        Will share with my family for sure.

        Eddy.

      • profile image

        Lesleysherwood 

        5 years ago

        As a Londoner myself I loved this article. I have re-shared it to my facebook page. Thank you.

      • prasetio30 profile image

        prasetio30 

        5 years ago from malang-indonesia

        Very informative hub. I love travel topic. London is one of beautiful city in the world where we can find several historical places here. "The Gherkin" is my favorite. Nice review and very well written. Thanks for sharing with us. Voted up!

        Prasetio

      • Mark Ewbie profile image

        Mark Ewbie 

        5 years ago from UK

        Great hub, lovely pics and London is a great place to visit. A lot to do. I think the Tube is brilliant as part of getting around easily and finding the next spot on the tour. City seems pretty clean too these days.

      • whonunuwho profile image

        whonunuwho 

        5 years ago from United States

        Very interesting work and well received my friend. whonu

      • aa lite profile imageAUTHOR

        aa lite 

        5 years ago from London

        Thanks SB! Yep those boat tours are very popular. I have to say I just really like walking by the river in Central London. No chance of getting lost, even for a completely disoriented person like myself.

      • aa lite profile imageAUTHOR

        aa lite 

        5 years ago from London

        Thanks Hashem!

      • aa lite profile imageAUTHOR

        aa lite 

        5 years ago from London

        Thanks BeBrown, glad you enjoyed it!

      • aa lite profile imageAUTHOR

        aa lite 

        5 years ago from London

        Thanks Toytasting, the parks are very pretty, when the weather allows one to enjoy them. I've recently heard that there are big bat colonies in one of the parks, that one can see hunting by the water at dusk. So this is my next project, I really want to go and see that!

      • profile image

        summerberrie 

        5 years ago

        Took a tour boat down the Thames during a layover on my way to Uganda. Great little tour. Oldest buildings I've ever seen in person. Great hub. Congrats on HOTD.

      • profile image

        mjkearn 

        5 years ago

        Hi aa lite

        Congratulations on HOTD and so well deserved on this hub. I've been in London many times both for work and hols. Love the bit about the ticket trips. You'd think they would make that one journey free just for good will.

        Great job. Voted up and shared.

        MJ

      • profile image

        hashem860 

        5 years ago

        That's a very useful hub aa lite . Thanks for it

      • BeBrown profile image

        BeBrown 

        5 years ago

        Great hub, congrats for making it to Hub of they day!

      • Sneha Sunny profile image

        Sneha Sunny 

        5 years ago from India

        Wow. Very interesting read! Congratulations for being selected for HOTD. Rated and voted up!

      • Toytasting profile image

        Toy Tasting 

        5 years ago from Mumbai

        Hey aa lite, this is a wonderful hub. Couldn't take my eyes of the Royal Parks - they look beautiful. Congratulations on HOTD, truly well deserved. Cheers!

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