London Local Customs

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    by toonsarah
  • Local Customs
    by toonsarah

Most Recent Local Customs in London

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    Yeoman Warders

    by Balam Written Apr 1, 2014

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    The Yeoman Warders are probably better known as The Beefeaters but did you know that They were formed by Henry VII .
    The Name derived either from the French 'Buffetier' meaning food taster or from the French belief that all Englishmen eat Roast Beef, A French description for the English being 'Les Rosbifs'

    The Yeoman Warders were responsible for looking after Prisoners in the Tower although there have not been any since the Early 1950's (The last two prisoners were Ronnie and Reggie Kray who were held there before being moved to a military prison at Shepton Mallet after deserting from their National Service)
    They are responsible for guarding the crown jewels and for looking after the famous Ravens as well as acting as tour guides.

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    Valentine cards

    by Balam Written Apr 1, 2014

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    In 1415 after the Battle of Agincourt The Duke of Orleans (Nephew to the French King) was staying as a hostage at the Tower of London, While he was there he wrote a Love Poem to his wife. This was the First Valentine Card

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    Would You 'Adam 'n' Eve It?

    by HackneyBird Written Mar 13, 2014

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    If you are visiting London you may very well hear a few phrases of Cockney Rhyming Slang being spoken.

    There are many theories about the origins of rhyming slang. The most popular is that it began in the mid nineteenth century as a secret language of the criminal classes in London to confuse the police.

    It has also been suggested that it originated during the early part of the nineteenth century during the major reconstruction of London's infrastructure, when the building of main roads, railways and the docks were taking place. The main workforce was made up of local men and Irish immigrants and to perplex their 'foreign' counterparts the Cockneys are said to have invented rhyming slang.

    Another theory is that it came from the fertile imaginations of street chanters, nomadic wanderers who would travel from market to market telling stories, singing ballads and telling the people the news of the day. There were so many of these itinerant entertainers that each had to develop their own style of patter which they embellished with colourful phrases and pieces of slang, some of which rhymed.

    Whatever its origins, rhyming slang is still in use and below are some of the more common phrases you could hear on the streets of London today.

    Adam 'n' Eve - Believe
    Almond Rocks - Socks
    Apples 'n' Pears - Stairs
    Barnet Fair - Hair
    Boat Race - Face
    Borasic Lint - Skint (penniless)
    Butcher's Hook - Look
    China Plate - Mate
    Currant Bun - Sun
    Daisy Roots - Boots
    Dickie Dirt - Shirt
    Dog 'n' Bone - Phone
    Frog 'n' Toad - Road
    Half-Inch - Pinch (to steal)
    Jack Jones - Alone
    Loaf of Bread - Head
    Mince Pie(s) - Eye(s)
    North 'n' South - Mouth
    Oily Rag - Fag (cigarette)
    Plates of Meat - Feet
    Pork Pies - Lies
    Rosie Lee - Tea
    Rub-a-dub-dub - Pub
    Ruby Murray - Curry
    Sherbet Dab - Cab (taxi)
    Skin 'n' Blister - Sister
    Sky Rocket - Pocket
    Syrup of Figs - Wig
    Tea Leaf - Thief
    Tit for Tat - Hat
    Trouble 'n' Strife - Wife
    Two 'n' Eight - State (upset)
    Whistle 'n' Flute - Suit.

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    Trafalgar square – Where the fluff comes out

    by MaaikeSchmit Written Jan 13, 2014

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    The game is on!

    Despite being a major tourist attraction, meeting point and the location of the famous Olympic watch, every April Trafalgar square turns into a battlefield. April 4 world wide known as the pillow fight day, has its own print in London’s story too.

    It has already been 5 years, that at 14:00, in the main square of the city, the calm walks stop and all of the sudden, the pillows come out and friends become enemies for the next 30 minutes. The competition is fierce: hit or get hit.

    Notwithstanding your good wishes, there will be victims, your pillows will rip and by the end of this marvelous flashmob, you will be diving in feathers and get covered in fluff.

    Therefore, hurry up! Its sales time so gear up, take your best PJ’s and do not forget to forgive and hug your friends after the spell goes out at 14:30! Have fun!

    Trafalgar square
    April 4 14:00 – 14:30

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    Chocolate tours – Ultimate chocolate experience

    by MaaikeSchmit Written Jan 13, 2014

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    Chocolate tours

    In the land of constant autumn, there aren’t that many moments for the morning sun to cheer you up to have a great day, to leave your trench at home or get a tan. Therefore, over here in London we are forced to look for happiness and comfort somewhere else adequately fulfilling, indulging and pleasurable. That’s where chocolate usually comes to my mind. The eternal best friend that will never let you down, one just has to know where to look for it, because as much as you like your Twix bar, this will just not do in London.

    Same way you first saw the British Museum or were told a story of Buckingham palace , London has its tours for chocolate too. As it is a marvelous surprise itself, there is not really much to describe. the recipe is simple: on one of those rainy days ask yourself, how about a visit to the 10 best chocolate houses, trying great hot chocolates, making your own pralines, chocolate liqueurs or enjoying fair trades from Africa, South America or the best European masterpieces..?

    Golden ticket is yours, Wonka!

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    Olympic Mascots

    by SallyM Updated Jan 5, 2014
    Wenlock figure at Paddington Station

    During the London 2012 Olympics, the mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, could be seen in various London locations.

    Wenlock, the Olympic mascot, was named after Much Wenlock in Shropshire, where a forerunner of the modern Olympics was held in the nineteenth century.

    Mandeville, the Paralympic mascot, was named after Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire, where the Paralympics originated. [Incidentally the road signs on entering Buckinghamshire have now been changed from the welcoming 'Buckinghamshire - Speed Cameras' to 'Buckinghamshire - Home of the Paralympics'.]

    The mascots proved quite controversial as the design was not universally popular.

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    Shattered

    by TheLongTone Updated Nov 11, 2013

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    I was walking across Hungerford Bridge and noticed this accumulation of broken skateboard decks, I assume casualties from the nearby activity on the South Bank. Steelwork by Norman Foster: the pier is by I.K. Brunel, builder of the first footbridge here....they reused the chains to make the Clifton Suspension Bridge

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    Tube Etiquette

    by cleocat Written Oct 7, 2013

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    Central London tubes are busy and can be annoying. People working in Central London are constantly in a hurry and can get very irritated with tourists not abiding by the rules. Always stand on the right side of the escalator. Even though it might seem unbelievable, there are people who run up and down the escalator stairs. Don't block the entrance gates while trying to figure out where you want to go to. If you are going to travel on the tube regularly it might be useful to get an Oyster card. It is quicker to tap at the gates and rides are far cheaper than individual tickets.

    The tubes are full, especially during peak times, which is in the morning from about 7 to 10 and in the afternoon/evening from about 4 till 7. That doesn't mean it won't be full at other times, but you stand a better change at getting a seat.

    Wait for people to disembark the tube before you get on. Be prepared to stand most of the way or all way in the centre of the city. Don't be concerned about personal space as there is none during busy times.

    View tube rides as just another experience and try to be polite even though regular users might not be.

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    Gold post boxes

    by toonsarah Written Sep 25, 2013

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    During the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics, the Royal Mail painted more than 100 of its iconic red post boxes gold – one for every gold medal won by a GB competitor. These can be found in various locations across the country, in the home town or community of the athlete it commemorates. The post boxes are intended to remain permanently gold to mark the achievements of the athletes and the historic Games.

    But in the centre of London you will find one that celebrates not an individual athlete but all of them. This post box in Tothill Street, opposite Westminster Abbey, has been painted to mark the gold medal winning performances from Team GB and Paralympics GB.

    There are no other gold post boxes in the centre of town but further out you may spot more. There is one dedicated to Andy Murray, winner of the men’s Singles Tennis Gold medal, in Wimbledon, and a second one there for Sophie Hosking, Gold medallist in the Women's Lightweight Double Sculls. Chiswick in west London has one for another rower, Pete Reed, who was one of the Gold medallists in the Men's Four. Mo Farah’s box is outside Isleworth post office and he has a second one in nearby Teddington. In north London there are fewer, but Enfield has one dedicated to Charlotte Dujardin, Gold medallist in the Equestrian Team Dressage.

    To find these, or to look for post boxes in other locations in the country, check out the map on the website below, where you can also search by entering the name of your favourite athlete.

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    Christmas Market on the South Bank

    by toonsarah Written Sep 25, 2013

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    In recent years the traditional Christmas markets that are popular in Germany and elsewhere on the continent of Europe have become increasingly common in England, and most cities now have one. In London there are several, including one at Covent Garden, but our favourite is the one held on the South Bank by the Royal Festival Hall. The atmosphere by the river is really festive, with the lights reflecting in the water, and often there is a parallel Real Food Market on the other side of the Royal Festival Hall offering even more tasty meals than the Christmas market stalls. Not that the latter are short on treats – far from it! You will always find German-style sausages, burgers, crepes and much more. And of course there is Glühwein to warm you up on a chilly afternoon.

    As to shopping, there’s a good mix of stalls selling various crafts and gifts. These range from the pretty high quality (I’ve seen hand-made leather bags and beautiful jewellery in the past) to the cheap and cheerful. I always find one or two nice presents here for friends or family.

    There are also a few attractions, such as a carousel, and often seasonal music or carol singing. It’s a really good spot to get into the festive mood.

    The market starts in mid November and runs through to Christmas Eve. The nearest Underground stations are Waterloo and Embankment, and you use the latter you can enjoy the walk across the Thames with the lights of the market drawing closer as you approach.

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    Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square

    by toonsarah Written Sep 25, 2013

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    Every Christmas since 1947 a tall Christmas tree has stood in Trafalgar Square. It is a gift donated by the city of Oslo to the people of London in gratitude for British support during the Second World War. The tree usually arrives in late November or very early in December and stays until Twelfth Night. It is decorated quite simply, with strings of white lights, at a tree-lighting ceremony on the first Thursday in December. The same sign is always placed at its base:

    This tree is given by the city of Oslo as a token of Norwegian gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during the years 1940-45.

    A tree has been given annually since 1947.

    In the weeks that follow there are often carol singers under the tree, collecting for various charities, and I always make a point of walking through the square if I’m in central London during that time – seeing the tree is a sign for me that Christmas is on its way. After Christmas, on New Year’s Eve, Trafalgar Square is the venue for lively celebrations, and revellers splash in the fountains at the foot of the tree on even the coldest night. Soon after though, the tree is taken down and is chipped and made into mulch which is used in London’s parks. But next year there will be another tree, thanks to the people of Oslo.

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    Traffic at the Savoy

    by toonsarah Written Sep 25, 2013

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    In the UK they always drive on the left – right? Well, no actually. In the UK they almost always drive on the left. The only exception is this tiny stretch of road leading from the Strand to the entrance to the Savoy Hotel, one of London’s grandest and oldest. Why? Well, this is a private road (owned by the hotel) so British traffic rules can be ignored if wanted, and in this particular case it is more convenient for vehicles approaching the hotel, and the theatre of the same name next door, to do so on the right-hand side of the road. There are several practical reasons for this. One is that cars and taxis dropping off at the theatre don’t block access to the hotel as they would if the conventional arrangement applied. Another is that in the early 20th century when the practice was adopted, ladies would traditionally sit behind their chauffeur, and this would ensure they could step directly out on to the pavement rather than into the road. Furthermore, they would not have to wait while the driver walked round the vehicle to let them out, as he also would be already on the right side.

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    TNT magazine

    by angiebabe Written Aug 7, 2013

    This a magazine basically made for all the Aussie, Kiwi and Saffa travellers who are here in London.

    You will find the weekly mag in their TNT marked colourful bins in various locations around London - including the city centre but generally near tube stations or main roads where tourists and the antipodeans are known to end up living - south as EArls court, Acton, Baker Street, Victoria.

    These mags are great for all sorts of ideas of where to go - weekly highlights of festivals happening around Europe and countries further afield, latest news and happening and any good deals.

    TNT also have a big part in the annual travel fairs - so they will have articles and promotions here. Also travel agents recommended for flights and especially round the world deals and relocation information.
    Each time Ive needed to move house or thought I was going to send boxes of stuff back home ive looked here for the companies that tend to be reliable with better prices for our well traversed routes back home.

    For the first few years I was here in London totally fixated on travelling, using all my days off from work as much as possible to get to special events and festivals I made sure I had their copy of the TNT diary as they had included information of excellent festivals not to miss. I was able to plan my roster requests very tightly and got to great places due to their diary. It is still available each year and information how to obtain will be here in their website.

    TNT also have a part in the 1st Contact Travel clinics for all your medical needs - there is one at Oxford street which I have been using as my resource for the last few years. Good advice, good service and much better prices for jabs and medications needed. Also DEET free evidence based mosquito skin spray.

    In the back pages are ads for accommodation, where to find a dentist or hairdresser, doctor, or even work. Nanny and au pair jobs, managing a pub, seasonal fruit picking - all sorts can be found here for the new arrival and those who are still looking to find services or want to place ads particularly for their fellow countrymen in mind.

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    Look right!

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jun 25, 2013

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    Look right!

    What a strange idea to look right when you are crossing a street! Everybody who lives in continental Europe (in Russia for example) knows from childhood that one must look to the left!
    But when you found yourself in England (in London for example) you must remember that you are in left-hand traffic (LHT) country.
    Today, about 66.1% of the world's people live in right-hand traffic countries and 33.9% in left-hand traffic countries.
    England was my second country (after Japan) where I had to change my habit to cross streets, but it was more difficult to change my habit to walk right side.
    But when I saw such inscriptions reminding me about LHT on roads, I was laughing when turning my face to the right.

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    Bluecoat Schools

    by toonsarah Updated Mar 30, 2013

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    St Andrew's, Holborn
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    There are a number of so-called “Bluecoat Schools” in London. The name comes from the costume formerly worn by the pupils. Nowadays most of these establishments are bluecoat schools in name only, having long ago abandoned the cassock-like bluecoats, knee breeches and stockings in favour of a more modern uniform. However, a number of schools still retain the traditional bluecoat costume for special occasions and pupils at the most famous bluecoat school of all, Christ's Hospital (in Sussex), wear it at all times, keeping alive a tradition that dates back to the mid 16th century. If you’re in London in November for the Lord Mayor’s Show you might spot some in the parade.

    These schools date back to Tudor times and the long blue coat is a relic of the ordinary attire of schoolboys and apprentices of that time. Blue was a favoured colour for charity school children because in Tudor and Stuart times it was the cheapest available dye for clothing. Blue-dyed materials were economical, implying a humble status, and they were therefore avoided by gentlemen and the aristocracy.

    My main photo was taken at St Andrew’s Church at Holborn Circus, and photo two at St Mary's Church, Rotherhithe, but keep your eyes open and you’ll spot others elsewhere.

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London Local Customs

leics's Profile Photo

Local customs in London?  To be honest, the visitor will never learn them all. From standing on the right on a Tube (Underground / Metro / subway) escalator to knowing that a black taxi...

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