The iconic London Bridge

London is certainly not short of attractions of all kinds ranging from monuments, landmarks, cathedrals, palaces, museums and art galleries to a myriad of other attractions. It probably the largest number of tourist attractions to be found in the United Kingdom. It is these unique features that make it a much sought after tourist destination.

tower bridgeAmong the many attractions that are to be found close to the Shaftesbury Metropolis London Hyde Park Hotel, the London Bridge is another attraction popular with visitors to the city. It is has gained recognition as being one of the most well known bridges in the world. The current bridge is located on a site that has always had a bridge over the Thames since Roman Times. It is free to visit and offers great views of Tower Bridge, which is not to be confused as being the same, but an entirely different bridge and an attraction on its own.

While there has been a bridge for over 2000 years in the area the most popular was the medieval London Bridge that is referred to as “Old London Bridge”. It was constructed in 1176 and remained standing until it was demolished in the 18th century. What made the bridge special was that apart from being a bridge it was also home to various houses, shops, a church and pubs. And on its top were rather gruesome 30 spikes that were used to display the heads of traitors to the crown. Some of the prominent figures whose heads were mounted atop the spikes include Thomas More and William Wallace. This gruesome practice was abolished in 1678 though there were unconfirmed reports of its continuing till the beginning of the eighteenth century!

One of the most historical events to take place involving the bridge was when the Lord Mayor of London passed a law in 1722, according to which all traffic that came from Southwark into London were to keep to the right. It is said that this is where the custom of driving on the left originated in the country. Around the same period a new bridge was built in Putney that ended the pre-eminence of London Bridge being the only crossing over the Thames.

The contemporary bridge we know as New London Bridge today was inaugurated by Her Majesty on 17th March, 1973. During the night it is lit up with red lights, which is symbolic of the red poppies which commemorate Remembrance Day. As a reminder of the macabre tradition of heads on its infamous spikes there is a modern day spike to be found on the Southern part of the bridge. It serves as a reminder of the gruesome ends that some of the city’s prominent citizens met in the past. It is now maintained by a charitable trust the Bridge House Estates. It was founded initially in 1282, with the purpose of maintaining London Bridge, and now it maintains the city’s five bridges.

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