Synopses & Reviews
London is a city with almost as many ancient legends and deep-rooted customs as it has streets and landmarks, and here a leading folklorist brings together an astonishingly rich selection of themtales of ghosts and witches; stories about fabled events, heroes, and villains; and accounts of local supersitions and beliefs. Beyond simply retelling these stories it also delves through layers of hearsay and speculation to investigate how and why they arose. In the process, it shows how the story of Dick Whittington and his cat has connections with the ancient Middle East, explains why lions rather than ravens at the Tower of London were once felt to be inextricably bound up with the citys fate, and pinpoints precisely where the story of Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, was first recorded. Exploring everything from local superstitions, to ghost stories, to annual customs, this is an enchanting guide to the ancient legends and deep-rooted beliefs that can be found the length and breadth of the city.
"A wonderful collection of stories and legends, to be recommended to anyone who is at least half in love with the dark side of London's past." —The Times
"An essential, indispensable book, and should be as much a part of the civilized library as a dictionary or atlas." —The Guardian on The English Year
Richly illustrated, this is a magnificent guide to Londons folklore and legends, from the “Man in Grey” who haunts Drury Lanes Theatre Royal to the Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green via the true stories behind Sweeney Todd and Spring-Heeled Jack.
Discover the colourful traditions and bizarre superstitions of the world's most vibrant city.
In which part of North London were wild beasts once thought to roam the sewers?
Why did 1920s working-class Londoners wear necklaces of blue beads?
Who was the original inspiration for the 'pearly king' costume?
And did Spring-heeled Jack, scourge of Victorian London, ever really exist?
Exploring everything from local superstitions, to ghost stories, to annual customs, this is an enchanting guide to the ancient legends and deep-rooted beliefs that can be found the length and breadth of the city.
About the Author
STEVE ROUD recently retired from his position as Local Studies Librarian for the London Borough of Croydon and served as Honorary Librarian of the Folklore Society for over fifteen years. He has been researching British folklore for over thirty years and is the author of many books on the subject.