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SECRETS OF LONDON'S WEST END

The West End of London is a sprawling and varied area that encompasses both the seat of government and the home of royalty.

It is also comprised of a sequence of villages that, although now, very much, a part of the urban sprawl that is London, were once distinctive enclaves in their own rights.

The result is that the West End boasts a varied collection of curious and offbeat items and places, and uncovering them can prove both fun and fascinating.

The plaque, showing an outline of Meggie Albanesi, that is situated in the foyer of the St Martin's Theatre.

THE MEGGIE ALBANESI PLAQUE

Meggie Albanesi is, today, a largely forgotten figure. But in the early 1920's she was acclaimed as one of the brightest young actresses of her generation and, but for her premature death, she would, most certainly have become a star of stage and screen. All that now remembers her is a plaque at St Martin's Theatre.

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The Ziggy Stardust Plaque on Heddon Street in London's West End.

WHERE ZIGGY STARDUST TOUCHED DOWN

In March 2012 the Crown Estate unveiled a plaque on the spot in Heddon Street where, in 1972, David Bowie posed for the cover of his album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. The unveiling was performed by Bowie fan Gary Kemp and several members of the original Spiders were in attendance.

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The blue plaque that the customers put up to Joe Jenkins, their landlord at the Newman Arms.

THE NEWMAN ARMS PUB

The Newman Arms pub on Rathbone Street is a West End institution and has been frequented by a rich array of London greats that include Winston Churchill, George Orwell and Dylan Thomas. For many years its landlord was Joe Jenkins, a true character who was renowned for regularly swearing at his customers!

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The girl in the nightdress who looks down from an upper window at the Newman Arms.

THE GIRL IN THE WINDOW

In its time the building that houses the Newman Arms on Rathbone Street has been put to a variety of uses. However, just before becoming a pub, it was, reputedly, a brothel and, on the wall of the top storey, often unnoticed by passersby, a girl in a white nightdress remembers this intriguing period in the pub's long history.

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The Edison lightbulb on display at UCL.

THE EDISON LIGHT BULB

On display at University College London is an early Edison Ligtbulb together with the poster that the company put out to instruct people on its correct use. Evidently there was some confusion as to how this new fangled lighting method worked as the poster advises people that you don't need a match to light the bulb!

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The auto-icon of Jeremy Bentham.

THE JEREMY BENTHAM AUTO-ICON

Jeremy Bentham is considered the spiritual father of University College London and so it is, perhaps fitting that his mummified remains, or auto-icon, are on display in the University's South Cloister. Here we tell the story of how he came to be here and of some of the bizarre myths surrounding him.

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A green figure from the Neal's Yard Water Clock

THE NEAL'S YARD WATER CLOCK

One of the Curiosities that you will find in the backstreets around Covent Garden is the Neal's Yard Water Clock located on a wall in Short's Gardens. It was created in 1982 by horologists Tim Hunkin and Andy Plant and has been delighting visitors and residents alike ever since.

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Harrington House.

HARRINGTON HOUSE THWARTED AMBITION

When Whitehall Palace was consumed by fire in the late 17th Century, the Earls of Harrington spotted an opportunity to enhance their family's standing and purchased a plot of land next to the smouldering ruins of the palace. Sadly, things didn't turn out as planned.

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