10 things you might not know about the River Thames
You would be forgiven for taking England's longest river for granted - we all do it. Many of us pass it every day on our way to work or going to meet our friends without really considering that this iconic body of water is steeped in a weird and wonderful history, with artefacts of Britain's past being pulled from it daily. So here are our '10 things you might not know about the River Thames' that may make you take a second glance next time you pass it by.
Did you know...
- Two thirds of London's drinking water comes from the river...
- But, on average, one body a week is retrieved from the Thames. So don't go drinking right out of it.
- in 2006, a Northern bottlenose whale was discovered swimming in the river in Central London and was the first of her kind to have ever been sighted in the area.
- The annual Pooh Sticks Championships is held in Day's Lock, Oxfordshire, and the game even has its own 'official' rule book
- Plans have been proposed for the construction of London's 'Garden Bridge' which will provide a link between Covent Garden and the South Bank - the idea was the dream-child of actress Joanna Lumley.
- In 2011, comedian David Walliams raised over £1million for Sport Relief in a 140-mile swim from the source of the Thames - and rescued a dog while he was at it.
- The Magna Carta was sealed under oath in June 1215 by King John at Runnymede, situated on the bank of the Thames - it is widely argued that the document is of even greater significance than the 'The Official Pooh Corner Rules for Playing Poohsticks.'
- The famous boat chase scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed at Tilbury Docks upon the river in Essex.
- Bloomer's Hole Footbridge, situated along the river in Oxfordshire, is rumoured to have acquired its name after a local rector named Reverend Bloomer was spotted bathing there in the nude. As ever the British reputation is well upheld.
- In 1252 the King of Norway gave Henry III the small gift of a polar bear, which he used to let out into the river to fish for food. Reported records of expenses submitted at The Tower of London during that time include a 'muzzle and iron chain to hold the bear when out of the water and a long and strong cord to hold it when fishing in the Thames'.
Though the River Thames may never see another polar bear wandering its banks, its history will continue to amaze, shock and sometimes even scare us - but we wouldn't have it any other way.
By Lauren Mason, an online content writer for the West End on the Thames.