BOOK REVIEW: THE SECRET LORE OF LONDON edited by John Matthews

secret loreMyth, legend, folklore and London; all things that fascinate me.  THE SECRET LORE OF LONDON completes its siren call with an intricate and alluring cover.  So much for title and cover what about the content?  Here are some of the fascinating facts that I learnt.

London has a creation myth; of course she does, any City worth its salt has one.  It’s just that had you asked me what it was last week I wouldn’t have even begun to tell you.  Turns out Greek myth holds the key to London.  Brutus the Trojan, fresh from a successful battle, had a dream in which the goddess Diana told him to head to an island beyond Gaul.  So off he set and made landfall at Totnes, battled some giants, named the land Albion and headed off to found London.

London has a Stone.  Not just any old stone but the London Stone.  Just like the ravens in the Tower, as long as the Stone is alright then London will prosper.  Brutus himself was responsible for bringing the Stone to London and it is said to have formed the altar in his temple to Diana.  Where can this totemic rock be found?  In a grilled off niche in the wall of WH Smith on Cannon Street.  Next time I’m in the City it will be the first thing that I look for.

London also has giants, two of them.  Gog and Magog.  Effigies of the pair can be found in the Guildhall and are paraded through the streets once a year for the Lord Mayor’s Show.  Back when Brutus landed in Devon, the giant leader was Goemagag and somehow, over the years, he became two and came to guard London.

THE SECRET LORE OF LONDON is divided up into three distinct parts:  Legendary London which tells of Brutus, Diana, King Arthur and a whole host of wise women; then there is an excellent guide to the sites; and finally a section devoted to the stories that swirl round London.  If you have even the smallest interest in myth, legend and London, then this is a book for you.

DISCLAIMER:  I was sent a copy by Hodder & Stoughton in return for an honest review.

THE SECRET LORE OF LONDON edited by John Matthews with Caroline Wise

Published by Coronet

Paperback £14.99, Kindle £9.99

6 Comments

  1. March 26, 2016 / 1:55 pm

    Ooh love it! Sounds very interesting. I love the fact the London Stone is somewhere so nondescript. That’s so London of us. Bronte

    • March 26, 2016 / 1:58 pm

      Really good, I heard John Matthews being interviewed on the radio during the week, he was full of interesting facts.

  2. March 26, 2016 / 8:42 pm

    I’d never heard of Gog and Magog till I read the book, vaguely knew about Brutus but it was nice finding out more of the details

    • March 26, 2016 / 8:48 pm

      For me it was the other way round, I’ve seen the effigies in the Guildhall, well worth the trip

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