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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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"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)
Discover the colourful traditions and bizarre superstitions of the world's most vibrant citySee all Product description
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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.
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.
As I mentioned this is really a reference book as such, although I found that I got through this quite quickly as I would look up something and then find I had also read loads of other items. Taking in ghost stories this is quite well written as the author isn’t credulous and believes everything that is mentioned. Alas, the number of books on the market reporting ‘true ghost stories’ that are not true and have no mystery surrounding them whatsoever is ridiculous, so this made a pleasant change. Where legends have grown up about how some places got their names, where the true origin is known this is printed here, as well as when certain stories and superstitions are known to have first started.
In all I found this a truly fascinating book to have and I am sure I will keep coming back to it over the years to re-acquaint myself with certain pieces. This book also helps to remind us of something that is often overlooked; London as we know it today was just originally a group of villages and hamlets that over the years due to population growth have disappeared into something bigger, but certain of these places still hold a busy village semblance with the dissemination of gossip and rumour, as well as reactions to certain building proposals.
Brings to life the surprising, sometimes gruesome history of our capital.
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