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21 Weird Facts about British History that Will Change Your Idea of It

15. In the late 1894 London experienced what is known as the Great Horse Manure Crisis. There were so many horses that The Times predicted every street would be buried in nine feet deep horse dung in 50 years.

Great Horse Manure Crisis
Image Source: theclimatescepticsparty

And that wasn’t all. Each horse produced as much as 2 pints (a little less than 4 liters) of urine every day. As horses aren’t exactly toilet trained, they did everything on the streets. Another problem was the removal of carcasses. With the average life expectancy of horses being around 3 years, it seemed a common occurrence. At that time New York was also suffering from the same inconveniences. However, they were all saved as motor cars were then invented and became the most preferred form of transport.(source)

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16. During WWII, the British government popularized the idea that eating carrots can improve night vision, to hide the fact that RAF had advanced radar systems that accurately spotted enemy bombers.

Carrot and Night Sight Myth of RAF
Image Source: smithsonianmag, carrotmuseum

That was not all they had in mind. The government also wanted to get rid of them as carrots were one vegetable that the country produced in surplus as food was getting scarce because of war. There was also an increase of awareness to cook economically among housewives. The BBC used to broadcast a program called “From the Kitchen Front” giving guidance about healthy and economic ways to eat with a result that the population stayed healthy despite Germany’s food blockade by 1941.(source)

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17. During the early 1700s gin was so over-consumed among the poor and common man, that it reached epidemic proportions. The British spent the first half of the century, an era also known as Gin Craze, passing five Acts to get it under control.

Gin Craze of 1700s
Image Source: bloomberg

The government’s efforts were often greeted with instances of law-breaking and violence against the informants of the locations of illegal gin makers. It was estimated that on an average, a person drank as much as 10 liters of gin per year. However, after the Gin Act 1751, which introduced strict requirements for production or sales, along with a rise in grain costs, the consumption finally decreased.(source)

18. On October 17, 1814, a huge beer vat ruptured, causing a domino effect with other vats. It flooded the Parish with 1.41 million liters of beer, killing at least eight. 

London Beer Flood
Image Source: missopen

The beer wave also destroyed two homes, crumbled the walls of a pub trapping a teenage girl and filled the basements in which many poor families lived. After the incident, named London Beer Flood, the case against the brewery was ruled out as an accident and an act of God. The company, needless to say, suffered financial repercussions and severe losses as they already paid duty on the beer.(source)

19. During the early 1800s, the name Mary was so popular that as many as half the women in UK had that name.

Marys of 1800s
Image Source: jmg1313

According to the data collected from census records, birth and death records, and doctors’ registrations, by the year 1800, the name Mary was the first popular name, constituting 23% of all names. It was 53.2% popular among the top three names and a whopping 82% popular among the top ten names. The same can be said about the name John. The other popular names include Elizabeth, Margaret, Susan, Sarah and Emily.(source)

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20. The Victorians used to take post-mortem family photographs with their deceased, posing as if alive.

Post-Mortem Photography in Victorian Era
Image Source: io9.gizmodo

During the Victorian era there was a shift from getting a painting done, which was expensive, to taking a photograph, which was quicker and easier. Child mortality rates were very high back then compared to now.  This made them immortalize the deceased by dressing them in beautiful clothes, in a seated position, posing with the family.(source)

21. During the early 1800s people used to send “vinegar valentines” anonymously to the person they hated. The cards contained humorous and often insulting comments about the recipient.

Anonymous Vinegar Valentines
Image Source: collectorsweekly, victorianachronists

On Valentine’s Day, when many people received romantic gestures and sweet-natured cards, some received vinegar cards. The cards were of cheap quality, usually just a single paper, often depicting ugly caricatures and snide comments about the recipient’s looks, occupation or intelligence. What’s worse is the fact that back then they had to pay when they received a mail rather than when they send it. The cards were popular among the poor and working class who didn’t have much money to spend.(source)

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