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London Lore: The legends and traditions of the world's most vibrant city Paperback – 1 Apr 2010


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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: 12.7 x 3.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 139,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"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

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By A. Reader on 20 Oct. 2008
Format: Hardcover
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 By FatBat on 16 Dec. 2008
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 By Mr. A. R. J. Green on 6 Jan. 2009
Format: Hardcover
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 By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 April 2014
Format: Paperback
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 By barbicandy on 27 April 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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By Francesco on 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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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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Format: Paperback
...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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