London Trivia: Breaking the ice

On 3 February 1814 two youths died in the Thames. A frost fair had been taking place, when a piece of ice broke away and floated free just upstream of Westminster Bridge. One boy slipped titing the mini-iceberg tipping them both into the icy water. The frost fair of 1814 began on 1 February and lasted four days, during that time an elephant was led across the river below Blackfriars Bridge. It would be the last frost fair seen on the frozen Thames.

On 3 February 1975 despite having little knowledge of law, Prince Charles was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn and became a Master of the Bench

St Martin Le Grand maintained right of sanctuary as late as 1697 and became a Mecca for counterfeit jewellers breaking the law with impunity

Merchant Tailors Hall still stands where it’s been since 1347 what is now Threadneedle St. though much rebuilt after The Great Fire and the Blitz

The first person to be buried in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey in 1400 was Geoffrey Chaucer; Laurence Olivier was the last

William Wallace, commemorated in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, was the first to suffer the ignominious fate of being hanged, drawn and quartered

Novelist William Thackeray wrote Vanity Fair, Pendennis and Henry Esmond whilst living at 16 Young Street, Kensington

On two occasions in 1813 and 1814 Jane Austen stayed with her brother in his apartment above his bank at 10 Henrietta Street

Polo imported in 1870 by cavalry officers serving in India was first played in Britain on Hounslow Heath and then Richmond Park

The Underground helped over 200,000 children escape to the countryside during the Second World War; The largest number of people killed by a single wartime bomb was 68 at Balham Station

By tradition, all the waiters at Pratt’s Club are called George (whatever their real name). When they got a waitress she was called Georgina

When tunnelling Crossrail at Tottenham Court Road an underground vault revealed 8,000 unused Cross & Blackwell ceramic jars for pickles and jams

CabbieBlog-cab.gifTrivial Matter: London in 140 characters is taken from the daily Twitter feed @cabbieblog.
A guide to the symbols used here and source material can be found on the Trivial Matter page.

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