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London Lore: The legends and traditions of the world's most vibrant city [Paperback]

Steve Roud
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

1 April 2010

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 and 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.

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London Lore: The legends and traditions of the world's most vibrant city + London's Strangest Tales + I Never Knew That About London
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099519860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099519867
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.2 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 146,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"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." (Peter Ackroyd The Times)

"[An] absorbing compendium by folklore expert Steve Roud. He excavates the history of the capital, from obscure suburban streets to famous sites like the Tower of London" (The London Paper)

"I've been enthralled ... The book's real strength lies [in] its exposure of deeper levels of custom, tradition and magical thinking that lie beneath the smooth Tarmac of contemporary realism" (Will Self Evening Standard)

"A spellbinding study of our city's folklore ... digs through layers of hearsay and speculation to investigate how and why the stories and traditions arose in the first place" (Newham Recorder)

"An absorbing and fascinatingly thorough book" (Harrow Observer)

Book Description

Discover the colourful traditions and bizarre superstitions of the world's most vibrant city

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book 20 Oct 2008
This is a fascinating book for anyone who loves London, and an eye-opener if you have ever wondered whether cities have any folklore apart from ghost stories. Steve Roud divides London into seven regions, and finds an amazing variety of tales and customs (past and present) to discuss in each one, and links them to the buildings and streets. In the section on the City of Westminster, for instance, you get gruesome tales of hangings at Tyburn, conspiracy theories surrounding the fate of Cromwell's corpse, the custom of wife-selling, May Day celebrations by chimney sweeps, plague pits, the fair at Mayfair, gypsy fortune tellers, a school Pancake Day custom, the famous ghosts of 50 Berkeley Square and Newgate Gaol, and much more.

Roud doesn't just tell the story or describe the custom. He looks into its history and assesses the evidence, quoting directly from old or influential accounts. He has a rational, often amusing, way of dealing with nonsense and wild theories. We may have to wave goodbye to some favourite notions (about Sweeney Todd, or the Tower ravens, or Ring a Ring o' Roses), but the reasons behind them are always interesting. London's real traditions are even more entertaining than the fictions.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 16 Dec 2008
By FatBat
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I can't recommend this book too highly. It is sensible, erudite and completely fascinating, and tells you more about the folklore and traditions of London than you would ever believe possible. Horn fairs, dancing chimney sweeps, the real Dick Turpin and the truth about Ann Boleyn's well, pig-faced ghosts, witches, murders and even a vampire. The only problem is that once you have started reading it is very hard to stop.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Brilliance 6 Jan 2009
Clever, witty, remarkably easy too read and broken down for easy reference. The book is one of the most enthralling I've read I would tell anyone with even a small interest in the mysterious side of London to buy it. Just hope Roud may think of doing something similar with other cities York, Nottingham etc...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Fascinating 30 April 2014
Ideal for those of us who are Londoners this book is also interesting as it does show that certain legends, folklore and traditions are found elsewhere in the country, or just seem to be local to a particular area. This is a good collection of things that go on or have gone on in the past in our fair city, definitely the greatest on Earth, simply because I was born and live there. This could be of help to school children if they are doing projects on their local history, as there are so many things mentioned in this book. Obviously this book cannot detail everything in London as it is only just over four hundred pages, and there are a lot more stories that are not mentioned here that people will know about. Accordingly you won’t read of the numerous ghost stories on the Underground or over ground railways, or all the incidents that have happened with fights breaking out when Beating the Bounds throughout parishes in London was performed in the past.

There are some stories in here that I think quite a few people will know, and others that they won’t. I never knew about grotto building and asked around, and apparently my Nan used to do it as a child. This is the really good thing about this book, you will find yourself stumbling over stories that you can vaguely remember hearing of, finding out what older members of your family probably got up to, and finding things out about where you live.

This book has two main sections of photographs as well as many illustrations throughout, as well as maps showing the location of where incidents occurred in each section. Split up into sections of London this is easy to find something you are looking for and is an ideal reference work for those interested in our capital city.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, but repetitious and inaccurate 27 April 2009
This enjoyable read offers a range of folklore and legend from across London, including some insightful comments on other writers and collectors in the field. It could benefit from severe editing, as several accounts are needlessly repeated, often in the space of only a few pages. Some glaring inaccuracies (e.g. "Newgate Prison was situated on the Strand where the Central Criminal Court now stands" (page 107)) make me wonder how many others I may have missed. The illustrations are generally excellent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best London stories 23 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love to read this book while visiting the different locations of London and discover many interesting legends about this city. Magic is in every corner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book 6 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book exceeds my expectations,it is full of interesting features and anecdotes and is a worthy addition to my library
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4.0 out of 5 stars A spellbinding study of London's folklore 25 July 2013
...digs through layers of hearsay and speculation to investigate how ans why the stories and traditions arose in the first place.

Brings to life the surprising, sometimes gruesome history of our capital.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars present
bought this as present for friend, who loves London. There was a little wear and tear but both like second hand books. Arrived well in allotted time scale
Published 8 months ago by Cheryl Dixon
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for London Bus travel
Very enjoyable even if not "true". Makes London Bus travel more enjoyable loosing yourself in this substantial compendium of stories.
Published 9 months ago by Kevin Richardson
5.0 out of 5 stars Love London
As a Londoner I love any and all information I can find out about London so this book is great for the oldy worldly London stuff. Some of this stuff is still happening today.
Published 19 months ago by Mrs. L. E. Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read full of great stories!
An excellent, well written book full of ghosts, superstitions, myths and legends. Packed with obscure facts, this book is a fun read.
Published on 9 May 2011 by Freddie Valentine
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and fascinating
This is this sort of book that you can dip in and out of. It is handily broken down into different geographical areas whilst the index at the back enables the reader to research... Read more
Published on 25 Nov 2009 by Rainy Day
5.0 out of 5 stars LONDON LORE
This book was recently reviewed on the Robert Elms programme, BBC Radio LONDON. It was because of this I decided to but a copy and I totally agree with them that this book is a... Read more
Published on 1 Jun 2009 by Robren
4.0 out of 5 stars London Lore
If you love London and History then this really is a pip!

I'm a big fan of both and got this for Christmas (well I actually chose & paid for it) and was not... Read more
Published on 13 Feb 2009 by Mr. J. Jones
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