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I Never Knew That About London

Narrated by: Timothy Bentinck
Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
Categories: History, British
4 out of 5 stars (306 ratings)

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Summary

Best-selling author Christopher Winn takes us on a captivating journey around London to discover the unknown tales of our capital's history. Travelling through the villages and districts that make up the world's most dynamic metropolis, I Never Knew That About London unearths the hidden gems of legends, firsts, inventions, adventures and birthplaces that shape the city's compelling and at times turbulent past.

See the Chelsea river views that inspired Turner in his final years, and find out where London's first nude statue is. Explore London's finest country house in Charlton, and unearth the secrets of the Mother of Parliaments. Spy out the village that gave its name to a car and the Russian word for railway station. Discover which church steeple gave us the design of the traditional wedding cake, where the sandwich was invented, and where in Bond Street you can see London's oldest artefact. Visit the house where Handel and Jimi Hendrix both lived. Climb the famous 311 steps of the Monument, go from East to West and back again at Greenwich and fly the world's biggest big wheel.

Brimming with facts, stories and snippets providing a spellbinding insight into the history of London, this beautiful listen is guaranteed to inform and amuse in equal measure.

Christopher Winn's first book was the best-selling I Never Knew That About England. A freelance writer and collector of trivia for over 20 years, he has worked with Terry Wogan and Jonathan Ross and sets quiz questions for television as well as for the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph.

He is also the associate producer of a TV series by ITV on Great Britain, airing in 2014. His website is http://www.i-never-knew-that.com.

©2007 Christopher Winn (P)2015 Audible, Ltd

Critic reviews

"A delightful and informative addition to the capital's literary legacy... I Never Knew That About London will not fail to enhance months, even years, of gentle urban exploration.... Any number of morning or weekend outings can be constructed from these rich pages.... Winn's touch is always light, and his knowledge is never overbearing, so the selections and observations remain unfailingly interesting." (Rory MacLean, Guardian Online)
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Every few seconds...

This is a gem of a book. Seeing the taxi icon, I initially worried that it might be mere pub quiz fodder. However, it's a virtual tour of the city, along the river. There really are fascinating facts every few seconds. Apart from historical events and people there are many fascinating explanations of place names and the origins of popular expressions e.g. at sixes and sevens - no spoilers here.
So frequent were the temptations to rewind that I decided to buy the Kindle version of the book so that I could keep listening and do any 'reference work' later using Kindle's search facility.
To borrow Ian McEwan's phrase, there were so many 'detonations of cognition' that I imagine I'll revisit this book again, either in Audible or Kindle format, but more likely both. I look forward to exploring Christopher Winn's other books.
Timothy Bentinck does a fine job of narrating.

15 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Too much information

I love London, history and trivia so I couldn't wait to listen to this book. I'm afraid I lasted about half an hour. There is so much information, with all measurements being given in imperial and metric, all people and events being followed by start and finish/birth and death dates and facts following each other with very little break or structure in between. I felt like reading a close-spaced wall of text but with my ears. I might buy it as a physical book if I see it on offer as I think it probably works better in that format, but I certainly won't bother with this audio book again.

17 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Informative good book

Great and interesting facts about London, but very fast paced and a lot to take in. That said a fascinating insight.

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

great facts just a little dry

great facts but it feels like the phone book is being read to you. more like a catalogue of facts. The narrator cannot help the way it has been written and does the best he can with what he has got.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting but have a map of London with you

Generally meet expectations but certain facts were repeated, almost verbatim, which made me think I had repeated a chapter.

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Needs reorganisation

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Needs some reorganising the 'path' followed seemed try random and a lot of the book just felt like a list of Wikipedia trivia.

Would you recommend I Never Knew That About London to your friends? Why or why not?

Maybe for a quick history/trivia fest about London it is enjoyable for the most part

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

He is a little flat but serviceable

Do you think I Never Knew That About London needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Not a bat Idea, or at least an updated volume as building come and go, there were a few tings that are already outdated and this is a new book!

Any additional comments?

It feels rather like a stream of consciousness and list at times often not telling more about interesting stories other then to tell you that they happened

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

You need to have some background knowledge

You really need to be familiar with London to enjoy this book properly -- the narrator moves fast, and as such you're thrown all over the city at an alarming rate. I live within spitting distance of Tower Bridge and even I found this difficult to follow in places.

So, unless you've done the knowledge, don't try to listen to this book when driving, running or walking as you will probably end up lost.

Personally I'd suggest you have a map at the ready so you can follow the author's journey and remind yourself of the various locations as you absorb a whole heap of interesting facts and figures.

Edit: I have started to notice some historical inaccuracies, so be careful what you believe.

3 people found this helpful

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What a lot you don't know about London.

So informative. Well written and very well read. This will increase your enjoyment, next time you visit London.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting

Interesting - especially if you know London. The reader has a pleasant, clear voice. A slight irritation is that measurements are given in both imperial and metric units: "the arch is x feet (y metres) wide,"etc, over and over again. At least Scotland Yard is not referred to as "Scotland 89.3 centimetres"!

16 people found this helpful

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Interesting but repetitive at times

Very interesting book, probably would be better if accompanied by a pdf with maps of the locations..

2 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Sean O'Skea
  • Sean O'Skea
  • 21-08-16

I never cared to know that about London.

I Never Knew That About London by Christopher Winn is well read by Timothy Bentinck and is a mildly diverting listen for those interested in London’s long history. It is organized by neighborhood and can be hard to follow especially in the audio version without the benefit of page layout clues.

It is basically a long list of random facts about London locations organized only by their rough proximity. The information can be extremely esoteric. Along the lines of, “On this street lived Terry Dunno the drummer for an early 60s band you’ve never heard of, as well as John Whosit the green-grocer credited with introducing the avocado to London in 1912. Both houses were demolished in 1970.”

Christopher Winn frequently references the locations for film shoots, but they tend to be rather obvious such as, “Notting Hill drew international attention as the setting for the 1999 movie, Notting Hill.” Or so obscure you will wonder why he included them such as his several references to locations for the 2003 film Johnny English.

I could imagine a Londoner picking up this book at the library and learning a few interesting facts about their neighborhood to share at the pub but it’s far too trivial for anyone interested in an actual history. On Audible try London a Short History of the Greatest City in the World from the Great Courses or A. N. Wilsons’ very brief but compelling London A History. For the tourist looking for greater depth of understanding the excellent Rough Guide to London (not on Audible) gives historical context, points out hidden oddities and obscure sites, as well as giving you the practical information you need to visit the city. This guide book is written with more context and humor than Mr Winn manages.

I Never Knew That About London is entertaining and in a scattered way, informative, but it feels more like sitting down and reading the questions and answers off Trivial Pursuit cards than anything you will remember once its ten hours are over.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Joanna C. Hinga
  • Joanna C. Hinga
  • 22-11-15

Boring

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Disjointed and generally dull. If I hadn't been born in london, this book would not make me want to visit the place.

1 person found this helpful