London,  London fun facts

10 facts and stories behind Trafalgar Square

Take the Trafalgar Square quiz before reading the stories behind the answers!

London’s most central square (the centre of London is measured for the Charles the First statue which is across the road from Nelson’s Column as you look towards Whitehall).

Learn about what other species once roamed here, weird byelaws and why the fourth plinth is empty.

Where does Trafalgar Square take it’s name from?

Opened in 1844, Trafalgar Square was named after the Battle of Trafalgar Square, commemorating Admiral Nelson’s victory in the during the Napoloenic Wars.

Nelson’s Column depicts his most famous victories in War; 
the Battle of the Nile, the Battle of Copenhagen, the Battle of Cape St Vincent and his death at the Battle of Trafalgar. The four panels along the base were created from melted French artillery.

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Those famous fountains

Apparently the fountains were only built to discourage anti-social behavior by making the square a smaller space (i.e. less people can gather for riots).

In 2013, The Scots managed to over come this by not only jumping into the fountain, but create a bubble bath using Fairy Liquid.

So proud.

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Hippopotamuses in Trafalgar Square?

Not this guy. He was at International Pillow Fight Day in 2014  at Trafalgar Square (no longer held there unfortunately).


In the 1950’s, building work unearthed the remains of hippopotamus which is on display in the Natural History Museum.

It was also discovered that mammoths, bears and wild cats once roamed the area of Trafalgar Square. Glad it’s not like that still!

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The world’s smallest police station? Not quite.

On the corner of Trafalgar Square, closest to Waterstones, there is a black door with a huge light above it.

Now a place for cleaners to store their products, was once an observation box for the police for any rowdy behavior and protests. It was not the world’s smallest police station as many have written.

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What happened to all the pigeons in Trafalgar Square? Byelaws happened

My family have photos of my brother and sister covered in pigeons at Trafalgar Square when they were young.

So where are they now?

Byelaws created by the Mayor of London ensure Trafalgar is a safe place that’s kept in tip top condition.

Ken Livingstone enforced a law to make selling pigeon food on the square illegal. Good call I saw. No one wants to sit in bird shit.

Other byelaws include making erecting a tent, flying a kite and placing an inflatable object in the fountains illegal.

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The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree

Since 1947, Norway has gifted London a Norwegian spruce tree 
in recognition of Britain’s support during the Second World War.

Over 20 metres long, they’re usually about 50-60 years old and selected from forests around Oslo. How do they get the tree to London from Oslo?By sea then a lorry. It’s then decorated with over a hundred lights vertically.

Why is the fourth plinth empty?

The fourth plinth was supposed to have a statue of William IV, but there were insufficient funds. Double blow for William IV as the square was going to be named after him too.

In 1998, the Fourth Plinth Project was commissioned to have art displayed.

Since then, we’ve seen a giant ship in a bottle, a boy on a rocking horse, a giant thumbs up and even a woman recreating her wedding

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The Trafalgar Square lions

While they’re often referred to as Landseer lions, they are in fact Barbary lions (which are now extinct). Landseer was the designer of the lions. Barbary lions were once kept at Tower of London. The monarchy were gifted exotic animals which they displayed like a zoo. You could bring a dog or cat to feed and get in for free…

Legend has it that if Big Ben chimes 13 times, the Trafalgar Square lions will awake from slumber. Gulp.

A pyramid in Trafalgar Square?

London has heard of many weird proposals like a monorail on Regent’s Street, a Westminster City airport and a 1000ft world’s first skyscrapper in 1852. In Crystal Palace.

Before all of that and before Trafalgar Square took shape, Sir Fredrick William Trench proposed a pyramid which would have been taller than St Paul’s Cathedral to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar Square and Battle of Nile.

Well, it would have created more seating area at least than it’s current set up.

Nelson’s left arm was damaged?

In battle, Nelson had most of his right arm amputated. And went back to work in half an hour. Lad.

But it was his left arm on his statue which had to be repaired as it was struck by lightning.

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