Twitter asks about Prince Andrew and Buckingham Palace’s response after the Meghan ‘bullying’ statement


Meghan Markle has been hit with new allegations against her character this week, in the lead up to her tell-all interview with Oprah, which airs in the UK next Monday March 8 at 8pm, on ITV.

On Tuesday, The Times published a report, in which Royal aides claimed Meghan faced a bullying complaint made by one of her closest advisers during her time at Kensington Palace, adding that she allegedly ‘drove two personal assistants out of the household’.

Meghan’s media team say this as the latest in a series of attacks on her character, releasing the following statement:

The Royal Family also quickly issued a statement on the matter, which said:

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This has caused a new furore among many British Twitter users, who see a big discrepancy between Meghan’s treatment by the Royal Family and certain factions of the media, and the response to Prince Andrew’s failure to respond to the FBI’s request to help them in regards to the case of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

At the time, Buckingham Palace denied the accusations that Prince Andrew was in any way involved, with a statement that read: “The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes.

“His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent.”

One Twitter user, referencing the differences in Meghan’s treatment from both the Palace and the tabloids, said:

However, Prince Andrew’s lawyer’s stated back in 2020: “Prince Andrew is not and has never been a ‘target’ of their criminal investigations into Epstein and that they sought his confidential, voluntary cooperation.”

Another alluded to the speed in which the Royal Family’s HR department reacted to claims against Meghan, in comparison to allegations made against the Duke of York.

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Historian and Professor Kate Williams also gave her view, asking if there was any news on Prince Andrew speaking to the FBI.

Others believe the bullying allegations against Meghan are in fact a calculated smear campaign against her from within the Royal Family, and prove her point right, in this newly released clip from the Oprah interview.

Whilst the world waits to see the tell-all interview, it seems the constant media attention around the Royal couple is far from over.

Do you think Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were right to do an interview with Oprah on their experiences over the last few years? Will you be watching? Let us know in the comment section here.





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Abandoned kitten called José found dumped in a cardboard box under bins near Tottenham Hotspur Stadium



A kitten was found dumped under a bin chute in a communal block of flats opposite Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium.

The cat – named José, after the Tottenham manager José Mourinho – was noticed by a resident on February 24.

The RSPCA was called soon after to inspect the poor female kitten.

Animal rescuer Siobhan Trinnaman found the cat in a cardboard box under the bins on Love Lane, just 0.2 miles from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

She said: “José is such a sweet little cat, it’s hard to believe someone would do this – maybe it was a ‘spur’ of the moment thing.

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“Sadly she didn’t seem to be bearing any weight on her back leg so I took her straight to our Central London branch who were able to look after her.”

José is making great progress, according to Siobhan, and they hope she will be placed in foster care while recovering and then be adopted into the forever home.

She continued: “It is never the answer to dump an animal – there is support out there from friends and family, and local charities – if you are struggling we would urge you to seek help.

“Poor José has been through a lot in her short life so let’s hope the rest of her nine lives stay intact.”

An appeal has been launched by the RSPCA to find out any more information about this incident.

The charity urges pet owners to ensure their animals are microchipped and that the details are up to date so they have the best chance of being reunited if their pet was to stray, be lost or stolen.

Dermot Murphy, head of the RSPCA’s animal rescue teams, said: “During the lockdown, there have been reports of a rise in people buying or adopting new pets, often for the very first time.

“Whilst it’s great that so many people have become pet owners and have found their pet to be a real source of comfort during these challenging times, we are concerned that some people may have bought a pet on impulse without considering how their lifestyle might change once the pandemic ends.

“The last thing we want to see is animals dumped and left out in the cold so we’d urge anyone who is struggling to care for their pets to please reach out to friends, family and charities for support instead.”

RSPCA advise anyone getting a pet to thoroughly research to make sure they can give them the time, money and care they need for the rest of their lives.

“As the impact of the pandemic puts a strain on people’s finances and as many people start to return to work or some kind of normality, the fear is that we will see a surge in abandoned and neglected animals coming into our care,” Mr Murphy added.

Already this winter, the RSPCA has received more than 82,000 calls. Last year there were more than 63,000 animals reported as abandoned to the RSPCA’s cruelty line.

If you recognise this cat ring the RSPCA’s appeal line on 0300 123 8018.

You can donate to the Central London branch who are now caring for José at https://www.justgiving.com/rspca-centralnortheastlondon/donate





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‘King of Cat Burglars’: The unbelievable story of London’s most celebrated thief who stole everything from a Picasso to Elizabeth Taylor’s jewels


Some people just seem destined to have fascinating life stories.

And this is certainly true of London ‘s most notorious and celebrated cat burglar, Peter Scott, whose life has been like something out of a movie – and inspired some.

Peter Scott was known as the ‘King of Cat Burglars’ and spent his life raiding the home of the rich and famous, finding himself in all sorts of strange situations and claimed he was “sent by God to take back some of the wealth that the outrageously rich had taken from the rest of us”.

Scott was born into a middle class family in Belfast in 1931, as Peter Gulston, and became a prolific burglar in the wealthy suburbs at the age of 12.

He claimed to have carried out more than 150 thefts and was arrested in 1952 but said the police only charged him with 12 burglaries because they were ’embarrassed’ he had managed to carry out so many under their watch.

He ended up serving six months in jail and changed his surname to Scott, before departing for London in 1957.

On arrival he forged a partnership with George “Taters” Chatham, then renowned as the most celebrated “cat burglar” in London and said he realised the wealthy houses of Mayfair and Belgravia were perfectly designed to be burgled.

The duo engaged in heists that bagged them art and jewellery worth millions of pounds from Bond Street jewellery stores to Mayfair art collectors.

“I felt like a missionary seeing his flock for the first time,” he said when reliving the burglary of Dropmore House in Buckinghamshire, where the press baron Viscount Kemsley lived. “I decided these people were my life’s work.”

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Scott was said to have bought a new suit before each job so he would blend in.

During one burglary he claimed: “A titled lady appeared at the top of the stairs. ‘Everything’s all right, madam,’ I shouted up, and she went off to bed thinking I was the butler.”

He also said that on other burglaries, if he was disturbed by anyone there, he would shout reassuringly: “It’s only me!”

According to Scott, he stole ‘jewels, furs and artworks worth more than £30 million’ from A-list of celebrities at the time including Zsa Zsa Gabor, Lauren Bacall, Elizabeth Taylor, Vivien Leigh, Sophia Loren, Maria Callas and the gambling club and zoo owner John Aspinall.

“Robbing that bastard Aspinall was one of my favourites,” said Scott. “Sophia Loren got what she deserved too.”

Sophia Loren became Scott’s target while in Britain filming The Millionairess in 1960. He stole a £200,000 necklace from the Italian actress which was lauded as the biggest jewellery theft in British history.

Sophia Loren had a £200,000 necklace stolen by Scott

Scott is believed to have received £30,000 for the necklace – but he promptly lost every penny at the Palm Beach Casino in Cannes.

One Bond Street heist saw him steal £1.5 million worth of jewellery and in 1985 he was jailed for four years.

Scott served lengthy jail sentences and over numerous prison terms, he was imprisoned for more than a decade of his life, and claimed to be on the straight and narrow.

Upon release he entered high society through the front door this time, becoming a tennis coach at a London club.

But it was not long until he was up to his old tricks again when in 1997 he was involved in the heist of a Picasso painting, Tête de Femme, from the Lefevre Gallery in Mayfair, in which a pony-tailed gunman with a shotgun stole the painting before hijacking a taxi and escaping.

Scott was jailed again in 1998 for three and a half years for handling the stolen painting.

He always justified his exploits by saying: “The people I burgled got rich by greed and skulduggery. They indulged in the mechanics of ostentation — they deserved me and I deserved them. If I rob Ivana Trump, it is just a meeting of two different kinds of degeneracy on a dark rooftop.”

He said the fear of being caught excited him and spurred him on, as did the belief that those reading about his adventures were cheering him on, and thought of him as a Robin Hood style figure.

He was even the subject of a movie starring Dame Judi Dench, He Who Rides a Tiger, released in 1965. At the time Scott was in Dartmoor prison and made little money from the film.

In the end, after his many prison stints, Scott was left broke saying he ‘gave all my money to head waiters and tarts’.

He died in 2013 living on £60 a week benefits in a council house in Islington.





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The London Underground station name that’s an insult to people with red hair


Okay we know that generations of Londoners have sniggered hand-over-mouth when the name Cockfosters comes over the tannoy at a Tube station.

Hilarious of course!

But it’s far from the only London Tube station with a name that needs some explaining.

Dotted all across London are stations with names that make us crack up laughing, conjure up weird and wonderful imaginary places or just sound plain stupid.

In this story we’ve picked out 27 of the most bizarre-sounding names to tell you what they actually mean – including a couple that are pretty insulting to redheads.

So Oyster cards at the ready…here goes:

This piece would not have been possible without the very good book, ‘What’s in a name’ by Cyril M. Harris – available from all good booksellers.

Anglo-Saxon warriors in Chamberlain Square to celebrate the opening of the new home for The Staffordshire Hoard
Re-enactors posing as Anglo-Saxon warriors. Don’t call them a ‘coch’ whatever you do!

1) Sniggering schoolboys at Cockfosters

I’m sure all of us have sat on a Tube train and giggled ourselves silly when the Piccadilly Line station Cockfosters comes over the loudspeaker. One mention of the word “c**k” and we all go crazy. What does that say about the human race eh?

But why did this station have such a hysterical name?

It’s in fact possible that it simply comes from the name of a house that once stood here that was named ‘Cockfosters’. It’s been suggested this was named after a man who was in charge of foresters, ie ‘cock’ or ‘chief’ forester.

But please don’t take it literally and go and call your boss a c**k as it’s obviously a somewhat outdated term!

The Underground station at Blackfriars with St Paul’s Cathedral in background, pictured in 1875 (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

2) Itchy monks at Blackfriars

It’s easy to think these days that this station might have some politically incorrect racial connotation and should have its name wiped from the map. But not so. Blackfriars is in fact named after the black habits or garments worn by monks at a medieval monastery that once stood nearby.

These groovy monks were known as Black Friars because of the colour of their woollen garments – which let’s be honest must have been pretty itchy to wear in all the wrong places.

The monastery was founded in the 13th century but was quickly shut down by the greedy Henry VIII who plundered the monasteries for their wealth. His rather nasty officers stole everything from books to bed sheets, relics to roof tiles and sold off the lands and buildings they took over in a massive money-grabbing exercise.

It was all so he could pay to go to war in France and sit looking grossly fat and ridiculous on his horse.

Interestingly the monastery itself was positioned on the bank of the lost River Fleet which now runs underground but was once an important waterway in the city.

Many important occasions took place at Blackfriars including – most famously – the court hearing when Henry VIII wanted to dump his first wife Catherine of Aragon.

Later it became a theatre and Shakespeare part-owned it. But it’s a great name for a station so a big hats off to the monks for putting up with those itchy robes.

Henry VIII famously plundered the monasteries, including Blackfriars to gather cash for his ego-driven war with France

3) Billowing smoke at Burnt Oak

Why on earth would a station be named after a burnt out tree?

I mean you don’t get trees underground do you?

So it seems that way back in history the area where the station now is, was a place where fires were lit to mark the boundary between different places.

Maybe it was to warn off invaders from daring to approach?

It’s possible this was done in Roman times. Perhaps they were signal fires lit by soldiers patrolling the area. This makes sense as it was once on the edge of what was the Roman road of Watling Street.

The local musicians Future Sound of London outside Dollis Hill station (Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns)

4) All dolled up at Dollis Hill

This one always makes me wonder when I glide by it on a Tube train. Is it something to do with a dolls house? Is this some kind of bizarre miniature village?

Apparently the place was recorded as Daleson Hill as early as 1593. It was later known as Dolly’s Hill. But whether there was a famous toy shop here making dolls or a dolls house maker or something similar, we can but speculate.

It seems more likely the name is something to do with ‘Dalley’ – the name of a family who lived nearby. This may have converged with the name of the nearby piece of water known as Dollis Brook – so the two names may have come together to form Dollis Hill.

Much later a manor house stood in the area called Dollis Hill House. This was built in the early 19th century and was frequently visited by the one time Prime Minister, Gladstone when Lord Aberdeen owned it.

CMB_NLP_NL20136599_9
The open space at Gladstone Park

What is now Gladstone Park formed the grounds of the manor house. As recorded by the Hidden London website, Mark Twain spent the summer here in 1900, writing that: “From the house you can see little but spacious stretches of hay-fields and green turf … Yet the massed, brick blocks of London are reachable in three minutes on a horse.”

How different he would find it now!.

Elephant and Castle sure is a forking good name

5) A forking good name at – Elephant and Castle

Surely one of London’s most truly bizarre station names, this one conjures up all sorts of grand images of Eastern warriors riding elephants and knights in shining armour.

It was actually named after an old pub called Elephant & Castle which once upon a time stood nearby.

The pub had an amazing gilt model of an elephant and a castle on its front which was preserved when the tavern was demolished in 1959.

Way before that though, it’s thought the Elephant and Castle name actually originated from the badge of the cutler’s company, a guild or union of London cutlers – yes people who literally made knives, forks and spoons for a living.

These likely lads once decided to get all dolled up and paint elephant badges on their shields when they attended the Royal Wedding of King Henry VI and Queen Margaret during the 15th century.

The badge was probably used due to the ivory that the cutlers used from elephant tusks to make their cutlery.

The present day Elephant & Castle pub stands a short distance away from the old site.

People outside the Elephant and Castle pub in Kensington. You can see the famous gilt decoration of the elephant. (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)

6) Heading for the chop at Fairlop

This strange name seems to suggest having a good go at chopping something down – or giving it a ‘fair lop’ or is that just me?

Actually I’m not too far off. A legend surrounds this place. Apparently once an oak tree stood here which sheltered a popular fair founded by a certain Daniel Day.

When Daniel died in 1767, his friends decided to make his coffin from the wood of the tree. But even though they had lopped a lot of wood off the tree, it somehow continued to grow, so they made the conclusion they had made a ‘fair lop’.

How true this is is questionable, but the name certainly does come from a fair that was held in the area and the ‘lop’ bit comes from the name of a branch or twig. It probably came to refer to a description of the beautiful trees standing in the area.

7) Taking the p**s at – Goodge Street

This name seems to conjure up sticky images of gloopy mud or glue for some reason in my head. Again I’ve never actually stopped there on the Tube as it seems like the kind of place you could get stuck…

In reality, the area was once called ‘crab tree field’.

It belonged to a widow named Mrs Beresford who married a carpenter called John Goodge in 1718. When the street was built, the name was taken from their descendants William and Francis Goodge, who then owned the site.

More interestingly though, according to the Forebears website, the name Goodge actually comes from the original meaning ‘the son of Guch’ so would have applied to the son or daughter of a person called Guch.

Guch itself is a very old name and has developed in different variations including Gooch, Gouch and Gough. According to the surnameBD.com website it has two possible origins, both ultimately Gaelic or Celtic.

This is where it gets interesting. It may derive from the Gaelic or Celtic word ‘coch’ an old Gaelic Welsh word for ‘red’ which was used as a pretty nasty insult against people with red hair, specifically the Saxons who had invaded Britain in the 5th century.

So basically by calling someone a ‘coch’, you were slagging off the people with red hair who had turned up and invaded your country.

It’s probably the reason why the insult ‘c**k’ has developed into such an insult these days. So think twice if you use it, especially if you’re talking to a redhead!

The Temple and Round Pond at Gunnersbury Park. You might have to pay to park there from next year
The Temple and Round Pond at Gunnersbury Park

8) Scandinavian style at Gunnersbury

This name conjures up images of war and the military. It’s actually a really nice place to stop as it’s right next to the lovely Gunnersbury Park – a beautiful old mansion surrounded by wonderful grounds which make a great day out.
It’s a lovely place in summer with lakes, ponds, old ruins and a brilliant museum.

The meaning may come from the legend that Gunhilda, the daughter of the Danish King Canute, who once lived here. He was the guy who thought he was powerful enough to hold back the sea but eventually drowned whilst trying.

It certainly seems to come from a female name from Scandinavia such as Gunhild, put together with the Old English name for town – burgh. This gives us Gunnersbury.

9) French fallacy at Hainault

Why would a Tube station be named after a French town you ask? Well actually etymologists don’t think this does come from the French.

Instead it’s a thoroughly Old English name coming from the word for household – ‘hiwan’ and the word for wood, ‘holt’. So it probably mans ‘house on the land with a wood’.

The modern spelling seems to arise from the fact that it was wrongly thought to be linked to the French princess Philippa of Hainault at a later date. But of course we’re claiming it as English.

A fan cosplays as the Norse God Thor. Hammersmith conjures up images of such fiery, all-powerful Gods. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

10) Fire of the Gods at Hammersmith

Hammersmith seems to conjure up the glory of some old Norse God of war hammering out swords fit for heroes at his ancient forge. Thor springs to mind, or maybe the Roman god of fire and blacksmiths, Vulcan.

The reality is not so far from this fiery legend. It probably does in fact come from the word ‘hammer’ and the old word ‘smiddy’ which later became smithy – the place where a blacksmith worked.

The name was first recorded in the area in 1294 and was the name of a parish, and of a suburban district, within the manor of Osselstone, in the historic county of Middlesex

Smiths of course were highly prized for their incredible skills in days gone by for making swords, helmets, shields, horseshoes etc, so it would have been right that places got named after them.

Hanger Lane station on the Central Line right next to the hellish Hanger Lane roundabout

11) The roundabout from hell at Hanger Lane

This one sounds like a truly grim place! It kind of suggests a dark and grizzly zone where people were literally hung up to die in times gone by.

In reality it’s not quite that bad, but the fact the station sits right next to the ridiculously busy and polluted Hanger Lane gyratory means it could easily be described as a living hell.

In truth it takes its name from the Old English word ‘hangra’ which meant ‘a wooded hill with steep slopes’.

A wood known as ‘le Hanrewode’ was recorded here in 1393 and the place was later called ‘Hanger Hill’ before it was later changed to ‘Lane’.

Nowadays there’s not a wood in sight and you’ll be lucky not to come away with permanent lung damage if you venture to this truly awful roundabout.

High Barnet has some amazing views over North London including from King George’s Field

12) Climate catastrophe at High Barnet

A place that’s very high up? A place where people are very happy or taking illegal drugs?

In fact the ‘high’ part of the name does refer to it being literally high up geographically. But the ‘Barnet’ part is much more interesting. It comes from the Old English, baernet which meant ‘a place cleared by burning’.
So presumably at some point people burnt down the forest here to create space for their homes and farms.

Nothing changes does it!

The picturesque Maida Vale station

13) An Italian job at Maida Vale

I’ve always thought this was a strange one when I’ve heard it over the loudspeakers. It just doesn’t sound very English.

Well it turns that that’s because it’s not. Maida comes from the name of a town in Italy where the British military general Sir John Stuart defeated the French in 1806. He was made Count of Maida after the victorious battle.

Marylebone Underground Station, Great Central Street, London, 1907. Entrance to Marylebone Tube Station on the Bakerloo line, which had been opened in 1906. Developed by Charles Tyson Yerkes, this was the first line to cross London north to south. (Photo by English Heritage/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

14) A holy place at Marylebone

Named after a church dedicated to St Mary nearby and the small stream or ‘bourne’ on which the building sat, the area became known as St Mary at the Bourne.

This slowly got boiled down to Marylebone. Somehow that’s now pronounced something like ‘Marrleebone’. Go figure. It is commonly and incorrectly thought to be a corruption of Marie la Bonne (French for Mary the good).

Morning…time for cornflakes!

15) Cornflakes for breakfast at Mornington Crescent

This one sounds like it should be a breakfast cereal, or perhaps a Communist Party newspaper! Actually it just comes from the name of Anne Mornington, the sister of the famous Duke of Wellington. She was the sister-in-law of Ferdinand, Lord Southampton, who began building the station in 1821.

16) A nosy neighbour at Neasden

This truly is a weird one. It comes from the Old English, ‘naess’ meaning ‘nose’ and ‘dun’ meaning ‘hill’. So you’ve guessed it, it means ‘nose-shaped hill’. The name was of course used to describe a hill which was shaped rather like a nose in the area.

Commuters make their way through the Oval Underground station (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

17) Completely stumped at Oval

Oval of course takes its name from the oval shape of Surrey Country Cricket Club’s ground which is nearby. It really is that simple. Maybe if it was a circle the England team might do a bit better there?

Perivale Tube station. It doesn’t look as nice now as the beautiful valley suggested in its name

18) A fruit one at Perivale

This is definitely a fruity one. Perivale comes from the Middle English name ‘Perie’ which meant pear. Colourfully it means the “valley of the pear trees”. This was the name of a nearby meadow called Purevale. It’s actually still got some nice green parks nearby but it’s spoilt by the horrendously busy A40 which runs right through it.

It’s pretty hard to imagine the name applying to it these days.

19) Pubtastic Pimlico

Named after a well-known inkeeper, Ben Pimlico, whose Hoxton pub was named after him in the late 16th century.

river pinn
A section of the River Pinn in West London

20) A popular guy at Pinner

Named after a mythical seamstress perhaps? Wrong! In fact the name comes from a personal name, ‘Pin’ or ‘Pinna’ combined wit the Old English name ‘Ora’ meaning ‘bank, edge or slope’. This refers to the steeply sloped street that to this day runs up from the River Pinn to the church. So it literally means ‘The slope to Pinna’s Place’. Who Pinna was and why he/she was well known is not known, but they must have been someone pretty popular to get the lace named after them…or someone notorious perhaps.

South Ruislip station

21) Take a running jump at Ruislip

You’ll never guess this one. Ruislip was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 and comes from the Old English ‘ryse’ meaning ‘rush’ and ‘hlype’ meaning ‘leap’. Historians reckon it was named after a place where the River Pinn was so narrow you could literally do a running jump over it. Wahoooo!

22) Seven stunning sisters

Not massive imaginative, but this place took its name after seven Elm trees that stood in the area

A Christian missionary pictured in front of Shepherd’s Bush tube station in west London. The tube station is next to the big Westfield shopping centre

23) Shepherds in the Bush

As you might expect, this London mainstay probably took its name from the shepherds who once used the area to graze their sheep. Or it’s possible it was simply named after a person called Shepherd.

Quite what the shepherds were doing hiding in a bush we’d love to know as that could make the story a lot more interesting.

An open-top horse-drawn bus outside Ye Olde Swiss Cottage public house in north London in 1900 (Photo by The Print Collector via Getty Images)

24) A nice bit of Swhistory

With a lovely international tone to it, this name comes from an old toll keeper’s cottage that once stood on the site. This was later turned into a pub built in the style of an actual Swiss cottage called Ye Olde Swiss Tavern, later changed to The Swiss Cottage. The pub was rebuilt in 1965 and at one point claimed to be the largest pub in London..

The Temple church which was built in the style of the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and gives its name to the nearby station (Photo credit should read Anthony Devlin/AFP via Getty Images)

25) Keeping the faith at Temple

Temple is one of the most historic of London station names. It comes from the station that was built on land once owned by the Knight’s Templar, an almost mythical band of medieval fighting monks.

The order was known for it’s fiercely disciplined warriors and it was formed in Jerusalem with the purpose of protecting Christians who wanted to visit Jerusalem.

This was necessary because the city was surrounded by hostile Arabic tribes who seemed to enjoy attacking Christian pilgrims and cutting them to pieces.

The Templars fought numerous bloody battles against forces led by great Islamic leaders such as Saladdin and built up huge amounts of wealth in the process. They became advisors and bankers to kings and queens around the word and set up “Temples” or headquarters everywhere, including the Temple Church.

This incredible church which still stands just up the hill from the Thames, still contains the ghostly graves of many medieval knights and is well worth a visit. It was modelled in the Holy Sepulchre, the church where Christ was said to have been laid to rest in Jerusalem.

The place is also a reminder of what happens to people who get too rich and powerful. The Templars were eventually rounded up as heretics by jealous kings and popes and many were executed and had their lands and wealth confiscated. Maybe a message not to worship at the temple of fame and fortune.

Re-enactors posing as Knights Templar who once built the fascinating Temple Church in central London (Photo by C. Balossini / De Agostini Picture Library via Getty Images)

26) Sound your horn and ‘look out’ at Tooting

There has been a town in the Tooting area since pre-Saxon times flourishing along the old Roman road between London and Chichester. Some very clever people argue about the true origin of the name Tooting with some believing it to be referring to the Tota people who could have lived in the area.

It also could have come from the old meaning of the verb ‘tout’, to ‘look out’. There may have been a look-out post here overseeing this important route into London.

Uxbridge station first opened at its current site in 1933

27) Not quite Oxbridge at Uxbridge

This names comes from the term ‘Wixan’ – a seventh century tribe who lived near here. The name became abbreviated to Ux. The bridge part comes from a very ancient bridge over the river Colne which stood here. The name was first recorded as Uxbridge in 1398.

The local would probably like it to be Oxbridge but never mind.

The farm's Alpaca Ben helped TfL advertise its Overground map outside Vauxhall Station in 2018
An Alpaca called Ben helping TfL advertise its Overground map in 2018 at Vauxhall station

28) Grandad’s car at Vauxhall

No it’s not named after your grandad’s car!

It’s thought this strange French-sounding name came from that of a Norman Lord, Falkes de Breaute who inherited a piece of land here that became known as Faukeshale – as in ‘Falkes Hall’. The place later became known as Fox Hill until eventually being labelled Vauxhall.

If you have an interesting story about London’s history, email, martin.elvery@reachplc.com





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Lockdown rule-breakers who swear, urinate or gather illegally at Maida Hill market to be fined



People who swear, play loud music and urinate in Maida Hill market square now face being fined.

Westminster Council said it has secured a special injunction from the courts that allows its officers to also punish people who get drunk and engage in threatening behaviour.

It comes in response to what the council called “an increase in anti-social behaviour (ASB) and noise disruption” at the market, which usually hosts grocery and food traders.

It says “large gatherings” began to appear during the lockdown, which threatened the health of residents who have been “subjected to noise and disruption during the day and evenings”.

Those caught breaching the injunction will be summoned to court and face a fine, the council said.

It is the first time an injunction of this kind has been used to tackle ASB in the borough, and the council may look to use them elsewhere if it succeeds.

“Our previous attempts at community engagement and the serving of various temporary criminal behaviour orders and community protection notices have been unsuccessful, so we have taken this further action,” a council spokesperson said.

“We hope this new, more permanent council-led injunction will help reduce overall ASB in the area, change behaviours and ultimately protect the wellbeing of our residents which is our priority.”

Local councillor Guthrie McKie (Labour) said there is a “sensitive” situation in the market square.

“There was a group of elderly Afro-Caribbean men who occupied the area,” he said.

“They were harmless. They used to play dominoes there. That was okay but there would sometimes be over 20 of them.

“Then what happened was hangers on who weren’t actually associated with them could be in the area pushing drugs.

“There has been some concern about giving police extra powers in a sensitive situation. But we got an assurance from the council that there would be a balanced approach and that officers would identify certain individuals.”

He added: “The problem is Harrow Road and Maida Hill are areas of high deprivation that need to be dealt with sensitively.”

If you have a story from Maida Hill or Paddington that you would like to share with us, please email: owen.sheppard@reachplc.com





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International Women’s Day: London trained ‘Artivist’ on using art to advocate for mental health and women’s equality


As International Women’s Day approaches on Monday 8 March, MyLondon spoke to Sravya Attaluri on how her art has helped her and others’ mental health, on how she uses art to promote equality for women and the importance of representation in artistic spaces.

Sravya was born in India, and currently lives in Hong Kong, whilst she waits for travel restrictions to ease so she is able to move back to London. As someone who has lived internationally all her life, she has spent a lot of time in our capital, including her Art training at University of the Arts London (UAL).

She said: “I’m Third Cultured. I don’t have a connection to a certain place as home – I’m always constantly moving around. That’s why I’m more focused on equality, I identify as a woman and an artist more than a culture.


“In general my art has always been focused on mental health, equality, topics I’m passionate about – that’s where I can be genuine and honest about my work: mental health, equality, women’s rights.

“As a woman you always realise where there’s challenges and how your experience is different as others – especially as a Woman of Colour. I don’t see myself represented in a lot of places.”

This inspired Sravya to carve out space for herself in the industry.

“How did I want to become an artist, when I didn’t see representation?” she asked herself. “People like me also deserve to be valued in this industry. I take it as a challenge.”

Sravya believes it is important for others to see her work, and feel they can do it too. On the subject of women’s equality, she feels there are so many girls out there who have to convince people of them, and fight for what they take, “because everybody around them doesn’t think they can, because people around them aren’t in that role”.

She worries sometimes opportunities are presented to her because she is a South-Asian woman, and fears she may be a “diversity requirement”. However, she hopes it’s because she’s really good at what she does, whilst also improving representation in the art industry.

Sravya’s purpose is to use her art – or Artivism as she calls it, a clever blend of art and activism – to create systemic change.

“I want my art to motivate, impact people, cause a revolution, change, discussion,” she said.

As her work is seen by thousands of people online, people are able to post and react, and see her art as their own too.

“It’s for them as well,” she added. “It’s been designed for other people to use it in their activism too. Social media allows for it.”

Sravya is releasing a series of illustrations across the month of March to mark International Women’s Day, to acknowledge that the plight for women’s equality should be considered for more than just one day a year.

So far, she has released two artworks for the collection, and will continue creating through the month, using people’s responses to these initial pieces as part of her later creations.


She added: “Women’s day shouldn’t just be one day. To be a feminist you can’t just highlight women on one day. I wanted to highlight there are activists working on this every single day of the year.

“It’s great we get this visibility on this day but let’s follow this through. And highlight the women who aren’t celebrated, and aren’t highlighted on International Women’s Day. We all deserve to be celebrated.

“So it really goes beyond one day. This is a long fight.”

Sravya bases the women she draws on herself or people she knows, as she feels it is very important not to speak for others.

“The artwork that’s coming is very personal; I don’t want to misrepresent someone else. These are all my honest feelings.

“Growing up in story books, museums, the art world – I didn’t see little girls who had curly hair and Brown skin like I do. So I want to make sure that little girl, she sees me. I want people who look like me feel seen.”

Art and Mental Health

Sravya finds art therapeutic, and helps her with her anxiety and depression

In addition to her art being a form of intersectional feminist activism, art is important for Sravya’s mental health too.

“It’s been a really cathartic process,” she shared. “I’ve always painted [pieces] to do with emotions and feelings.

“The really hard things I couldn’t necessarily talk about, I could visualise. The more I did, the more I could let it go. It became therapeutic.

“When I was going through depression, it was really dark. A lot of people didn’t want to see it or approach it, [themes such as] suicide, grief. They’d say you’re a little girl, you should be painting butterflies.

“It made me think ‘Why don’t people want to confront it?’ I realised this is something here I need to keep doing. Sharing my mental health, the ups and downs of it. And encourage people to start having conversations about mental health in a way that isn’t triggering. To talk about it in positive colours, I don’t want to trigger anybody, but at the same time ease people into the conversation.

“I always tell the followers and people who follow my art – it’s not always going to be positive. I don’t like constant positivity, toxic positivity – I will always be honest. I still struggle with anxiety and depression. I will be honest with my art and post how I feel every day. But the way I communicate the darkness is less triggering [now].”


London

Sravya left her corporate job to pursue becoming a freelance artist, and feels it was the right decision, as she loves it, and wants to ensure the work she does has a social impact and helps people.

She is happy to know that other people relate to her art, something she says is 99 per cent her personal emotions, and a diary of her own mental health. She believes social media is positive in enabling people to feel less lonely, and to be able to interact and make connections through the platform of Instagram.

As a London lover, she is keen to come back to living in the city, which she feels is unique in its cultural diversity, and how our different cultures intersect with one another.

“I really love, honestly love the people, the culture. How the cultures have all mixed in together. Everyone is still strong and true to who they are, but they all mix with each other really well,” she said.

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“I’ve lived in LA, people are often in bubbles, don’t really mix with each other – social bubbles. But I felt really welcomed in London, could see parts of my culture there and learn about others’ and meet people.”

During her course at UAL, she was able to meet many different creatives with different skill sets, and says everyone in the creative community was both open minded and welcoming.

She also loves our buildings, history and plays, adding that the arts and culture of our capital are inspiring,and make her more creative as a person.

“Also the parks,” she adds. “I could go on forever about how much I love London.”

Sravya can be found on Instagram at: @sravya_attaluri.





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The Battle of Britain fighter pilot who saved Buckingham Palace by ramming an enemy bomber


The Battle of Britain was the making of countless British heroes, whether in the skies fighting or on the ground keeping Londoners safe, but not much was more recklessly heroic than what flight lieutenant Ray Holmes did in September 1940.

With the infamous Blitz bombing campaign commencing on September 7 1940, London was under relentless attack from enemy aircraft, and nobody was safe from the destruction, not even the royal family.

It seems that Buckingham Palace was a target of the Luftwaffe, as between the September 8 and 13 it was bombed on multiple raids and hit directly by five of these, with King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, our Queen’s mother, in residence.

Luckily no-one was hurt, despite significant damage to the palace. However on September 15 it seemed another raid of three German Dornier bombers were heading for the palace, until Ray Holmes intervened.

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Ray Holmes squadron during the Battle of Britain, Sergeant Holmes is is first on the left, second row back

Flying his Hurricane fighter, Holmes engaged the three bombers alone, shooting down one, and narrowly avoiding a mid-air collision with another.

In the process he managed to briefly tangle a German gunner’s parachute in his wing, something that sounds straight out of a Hollywood action film.

Having spotted the last bomber making a beeline for Buckingham Palace, Holmes realised his fighter had run out of bullets, he described his thought process and what he did next in 2001: “His tail looked very fragile and very inviting. So I thought I’d just take off the tip of his tail.

“So I went straight at it along him and hit his port fin with my port wing. I thought, That will just take his fin off and he’ll never get home without the tail fin.

“I didn’t allow for the fact that the tail fin was actually part of the main fuselage. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I found out later that I had knocked off the whole back half of the aircraft including the twin tails.”

The Dornier would crash violently near Victoria tube station, with only the two crewmen who had already bailed out surviving.

Meanwhile Holmes’ Hurricane was also terminally damaged and fell into a dive.

Miraculously, the RAF pilot managed to bail out, losing his boots in the process. He came to rest in a back garden, dangling from his parachute in an empty dustbin.

Witness Jimmy Earley described what he saw to the Independent in 2011: “All of sudden there was a terrific ratatatat. We looked up and saw these planes, a small one chasing a larger one. It crashed into the bigger plane and fell from the sky and landed just 20 yards from us.

“It frightened us a bit, you know.”

Dornier at Victoria Station downed by Ray Holmes, a Hurricane pilot with 504 Nottingham squadron, during the Battle of Britain

He ran to where Holmes had come to rest: “He was still smiling. What a bloody hero – to smash into a plane all that way up. We shook his hand and there were crowds of women all holding him and kissing him.”

Ray Holmes would become a national hero celebrated by the press for his selfless act of courage and he even receiving a note from the Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands who witnessed the event.

He died aged 90 in 2005, but not before he was able to see his trusty Hurricane excavated from its crash site on Buckingham Palace Road in 2004.





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London hospitals may face ‘surge’ in Covid patients later this year


Hospitals in the capital have been told to prepare for a ‘wave three surge’ in Covid patients later this year, according to leaked NHS reports.

Guidance discretely given to London NHS trusts in February said that in late March or early April, hospitals would be asked to “begin to plan for a possible wave three Covid surge”, according to the Health Service Journal.

The NHS England and Improvement London presentation (NHSE/I London) added: “[The] purpose of the critical care de-surge plan [is to] ensure that the… bed base can expand safely in the event of a 3 rd covid surge and/or other major incident/event.”

London is the only region to have been sent these instructions, the HSJ claims.

This “surprised” senior trust sources from outside London, because the national framework for tackling huge NHS waiting lists was meant to be sent out later this month.

How could a surge happen?

A surge in cases could be caused by new variants of Covid-19 becoming dominant across the country.

Cases of the Brazillian variant, for example, are currently being hunted down by Government in a bid to stop its spread.

But Government advisers think such a variant becoming dominant is unlikely, and that if it did, scientists would be able to modify the vaccine to fight it.

What does the hospital guidance say?

The leaked guidance sets out three other “strategic goals” that the NHS Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) should address.

This included ensuring “staff get… immediate rest and respite”, setting out plans to “desurge critical care” and planning for elective recovery.

Asked why instructions were sent out ahead of the national framework guidance, a statement from the NHSE/I London team said: “We have asked London’s [ICSs] to share their short term recovery plans for the first quarter of the year.

“This is in line with the national process and systems will be asked to issue a formal submission on their longer term recovery plans when the national framework guidance has been published.”

The NHSE/I is thought to be in negotiations with the Treasury about the national framework, which is being backed by £1bn of government funding.

London has a lower Covid rate than it did in Tier 1 when hospitality and shops were open

Covid-19 rates fell in all but one London borough in the most recent seven days of data, and every borough is recording an infection rate lower than when the capital was in Tier 1 in October.

But the government has regularly reminded us that the “roadmap” out of lockdown will remain a “cautious” one, in a bid to prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed yet again.

Restrictions will start to lift on Monday (March 8) when children will begin a gradual return to school, care home residents will be allowed one regular visitor, and people will be allowed to leave home for “recreation” outdoors (including a picnic) with their household, support bubble or one other person.

This is the first phase of the government’s four-step route back to a more normal life.

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TfL splurged £24m on Boris’ failed Garden Bridge but London’s other bridges might count the cost


It has been revealed that TfL’s £24 million spend on the failed Garden Bridge equalled more than half of all the money it spent on the capitals’ bridges over the last decade.

Some £43 million of public money was spent on the Garden Bridge, the pet project of former London Mayor turned Prime Minister Boris Johnson and promoted by Joanna Lumley.

It would have linked the South Bank with Temple Tube Station, and have been lined with dozens of trees. The project was killed off in 2017, before any building work had taken place, when Sadiq Khan withdrew funding.

But £24 million of that funding came from TfL while the rest was spent by the Department for Transport.

By comparison, TfL spent just under £43 million on the upkeep of all of London’s river crossings up to 2020/21.

Artist’s impression of the proposed Garden Bridge – a pet project of Boris Johnson

A further £13 million was spent on proposals for a bridge between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf, before it was axed in 2019.

The last 12 months have seen widely reported criticism of how London’s bridges have required expensive maintenance work, most notably Hammersmith Bridge.

Hammersmith Bridge, which closed to vehicles 23 months ago, currently requires stabilisation works estimated at £40 million before it can carry pedestrians. A full repair job of its cracked pedestals has been quoted at £140 million.

The £43 million spend was revealed in a letter from TfL commissioner Andy Byford to London assembly member Murad Qureshi (Labour).

Hammersmith Bridge has been closed to vehicles since April 2019
Hammersmith Bridge has been closed to vehicles since April 2019

Contrasting the figures raises questions about Boris Johnsons’s support for the Garden Bridge, which would only have allowed pedestrians to cross it, with cyclists needing to dismount.

Glynn Barton, TfL’s director of network management, said: “All bridges maintained by TfL are safe and we continue to invest in them regularly to ensure that they can remain open to all road users. This includes regular structural inspections and carrying out day-to-day and large-scale maintenance whenever necessary to ensure they continue to be in good working order.”

Downing Street has been approached for comment on the PM’s support for the Garden Bridge.

The ill-fated project was effectively scrapped by Sadiq Khan who withdrew funding after he took office as Mayor in 2016. A review showed that its eventual price tag – dependent on private funding – would have been £200 million.

Many of London’s bridges are not owned by TfL, although it heavily subsidises their maintenance.

According to Mr Byford’s letter, between 2010/11 and 2020/21 TfL spent £24 million on five bridges that are owned by local authorities: Chelsea Bridge, Albert Bridge, Putney Bridge, Wandsworth Bridge and Putney Bridge.

Over those 10 years, TfL spent £3.4 million on bridges owned by the Bridge House Estates: Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Southwark Bridge, the Millennium Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge.

And it spent £15.4 million on the bridges it solely owns: Battersea Bridge, Chiswick Bridge, Kew Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, Twickenham Bridge, Vauxhall Bridge and Westminster Bridge.

Mr Byford’s letter also reveals how it will spend “estimates totalling £135 million-£215 million for the next 10 years”. This includes:

  • Vauxhall Bridge £40-60m 2023-2025
  • Lambeth Bridge £20-35m 2023-2028
  • Kew Bridge £15-30m 2024-2026
  • Twickenham Bridge £20-30m 2027-2029
  • Battersea Bridge £15-25m 2027-2030
  • Westminster Bridge £25-35m 2029-2031

Although its finances were an issue before the pandemic hit, TfL’s finances collapsed into crisis over the last 12 months while its fare revenue dropped by more than 90 per cent.

It received Government bailouts of £1.6 billion in May and £1.8 billion in November. TfL chiefs and civil servants are thrashing out the terms of its next deal, due to be announced by April, the new financial year.

If you have a story on this issue that you would like to share with us, please email: owen.sheppard@reachplc.com





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Mark and Spencer shares snap of stylish shoes but shoppers give warning



Step into spring with a new pair of pretty shoes, perfect for Easter get-togethers.

With the end of lockdown insight, it is time to get out of slippers and trainers and encase your toes in some fashion-forward footwear.

Marks and Spencer shared a snap of some fresh-looking leather loafers which would work with floaty dresses or denim jeans.

But some shoppers who had bought the shoe gave warning after trying the footwear on for themselves.

Taking to Instagram, M&S posted a photo of a model wearing a short dress and shoe and captioned it with: “Wardrobe planning for Spring.”

Fans praised the outfit as “lovely” but some people who had purchased the pair had a different opinion.

One review said: “Look very smart on the website, but very rigid and extremely hard to put on.

“Had to search the house for a shoehorn. Back of the shoe very stiff and not very comfortable. Also, looks more like plastic than patent leather. Disappointing.”

Another added: “I have nothing positive I can say – they are supposed to be leather but they look like cheap plastic and so heavy! Just awful.”

One commented: “I had to return these”.

However, some people thought the leather would soften up over time.

“Bought these to replace my old three-year-old M&S loafers, very smart, but a little snug so I will need to break these in as leather quite hard,” they said.

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“I am sure they will be fine though so no need to return them.”

Showing the world is made up of lots of different options one user liked the shoes so much they wanted to buy more pairs.

“I bought these shoes, I have problems getting shoes to fit as my foot is wide, but these are so comfortable, I went back to get another pair but they were sold out in my size,” they explained.

The Leather Flat Loafers come in a wide fit cut in sizes 3 to 8.

Available in three shades of stone, black, and soft green the shoes retail for £45.





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