Covent Garden is one of London’s most popular attractions and is London’s OLDEST PLANNED SQUARE dating from the 1630′s and associated with the former fruit and vegetable garden in the central square. The route of THE STRAND on the southern boundary of what was to be Covent Garden was used during the Roman period as part of a route to Silchester.
Excavations in 1985 and 2005 revealed Covent Garden as the centre of an ANGLO-SAXON trading town called LUNDENWIC, developed around 600AD. They also discovered a Roman grave which led them to believe this was a sacred place.
The area stretched from Trafalgar Square to Aldwych.
From around 886AD onwards – Alfred the Great gradually shifted the settlement into the old Roman town of LONDINIUM leaving no mark of the old town and the site returned to fields.
LONDINIUM is aka the City of London or The Square Mile.
Around 1200 the first mention of an abbey garden appears in a document mentioning a walled garden owned by the BENEDICTINE MONKS of the Abbey St Peter, Westminster. By the 13th century this had become a 40-acre quadrangle of mixed orchard, meadow, pasture and arable land.
The land now called THE COVENT GARDEN was seized by HENRY VIII and granted to the Earls of Bedford in 1552.
the 4th Earl commissioned INIGO JONES to build some fine houses to attract wealthy tenants. INIGO JONES designed the Italiante arcaded square along with the church of St Paul’s (not to be confused with St Paul’s Cathedral), the design of the square was new to London and had a significant influence on modern town planning, acting as the PROTOTYPE for the laying-out of new estates as London grew.
A small open-air fruit and vegetable market had developed on the south side of the fashionable square by 1654 gradually both the market and the surrounding area fell into disrepute as taverns, theatres, coffee-houses, and brothels opened up – (much like today altho I’m not sure about the brothels)!
The gentry moved away and rakes, wits and playwrights moved in!!
by the 18th CENTURY it had become a well-known RED-LIGHT DISTRICT attracting notable prostitutes.
Descriptions of the protitutes and where to find them were provided by HARRIS’S List of Covent Garden Ladies – the essential guide and accessory for any serious gentleman of pleasure!
An Act of Parliament was drawn up to control the area and Charles Fowler’s neo-classical building was erected in 1830 to cover and help organise the market.
Today it is a popular shopping and tourist site with theatres, pubs and coffee-shops, small shops and a craft market called the APPLE MARKET along with another market held in the JUBILEE HALL.
Notable people: amongst many many others is
ALRED HITCHCOCK who was the son of a Covent Garden greengrocer – he used Covent Garden as the setting for his film FRENZY
NAOMI CAMBELL the model was discovered here at the age of 15 while out shopping
Covent Garden station
Covent Garden is a London Underground station in Covent Garden on the Piccadilly Line between Leicester Square and Holborn in Zone 1. The station is on the corner of Long Acre and James Street. The station was opened by Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway on 11 April 1907, four months after services on the rest of the line began operating on 15 December 1906.
It is said that the ghost of actor William Terriss haunts the station, with the last reported sighting in 1972.