in Covent Garden


The area is defined by Charing Cross Road/Shaftesbury Avenue, High Holborn, Kingsway and the Strand.
Covent Garden belonged to the Abbey at Westminster until the Reformation when it was granted, along with a field called Long Acre, to the Earl of Bedford. In the 1630s the 4th Earl commisssioned Inigo Jones to built fine houses around a square and St Paul's Church. In 1662 Charles II granted charters to the Theatre Royal and Covent Garden Theatre (now Royal Opera House). The growth of the fruit and vegetable market, with shops being built in the 1670s made the area less attractive and premises became coffee houses, lodging houses and brothels. As the market grew, especially after re-building in the 1830s many premises in the area became businesses associated with the trade. The market moved out to Nine Elms in 1974 and the area was re-developed by the GLC.

Stalls in the Jubilee Market vary with the days of the week
The Royal Opera House is open to the public 10am-3:30pm Monday - Saturday
The Freemasons' Hall is closed Saturdays & Sundays
Covent Garden (Piccadilly) is the most central station but relies on lifts and is closed when it becomes too busy for safety reasons. Leicester Square (Piccadilly/Northern) and Holborn (Piccadilly/Central) are to the west and NE respectively. To access the area from Charing Cross (Bakerloo/Northern & mainline) go right along the Strand and left into Bedford Street.
Travelcard Zone 1

Pick up 'In & Around Covent Garden' a free magazine from local outlets such as St Martin-in-the-Fields Church. There is also an associated
Read my
article on the history of some Covent Garden pubs.
Research the history of the area at Westminster Archives [

I have devised a Covent Garden route [
details] or just wander around. It is a fairly compact area with lots of interest. There is a map in the centre of 'In & Around Covent Garden' if you get lost or want to find anything in particular.

FREEMASONS' HALL 60 Great Queen Street. Tel 020 7395 9258

The museum and library is open weekdays 10-5. Free
LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM Covent Garden Piazza WC2E 7BB Tel: 020 7379 6344.

Lots to see. Tickets are valid for a year's admission. Free for under 18s. Open 10-6 (11am Fridays).

Street entertainers around the central area
ST MARTIN-in-the-FIELDS CHURCH Trafalgar Square Tel 020 7766 1100

Free lunchtime music most Mondays, Tuesdays & Fridays
FREEMASON'S HALL 60 Great Queen Street. Tel 020 7395 9258

Guided tours are available round the building at certain times. Free

The churchyard garden of St Pauls (entry from all sides).
Cheap eats in Jubilee Market
Toilets alongside St Pauls Church or in venues

Plenty! Conventional and specialist shops with central markets. Thomas Neal's in Earlham Street.
Stanfords in Long Acre stocks maps, guides etc for London and everywhere else.

ST MARTIN-in-the-FIELDS Trafalgar Square Tel 020 7766 1100

Present church 1722-6 by James Gibb. It is well used for concerts and has a gallery, cafe and shop in the crypt. It provides facilities and support for the homeless.
ST PAULS Covent Garden Tel 020 7836 5221

Designed by Inigo Jones for the 4th Earl of Bedford in 1631-3. Known as the 'Actors' Church'. The portico provides the setting for the opening scene of Shaw's 'Pygmalion'. Punch & Judy shows originated in Covent Garden (plaque) and a special church service is held in early May.
CROWN COURT CHURCH OF SCOTLAND Russell Street Tel 020 7836 5643
Present building dates to 1909 and shares a wall with the Fortune Theatre. It has a number of memorial windows. Services are held Sundays and Thursday lunchtimes.

The churchyard garden of St Pauls
The Phoenix community garden in Stacey Street

Inside the Freemasons' Hall on a tour (see events)
Former carriage works now occupied by GAP in Long Acre
Picturesque 18th century shop fronts in Goodwins Court
The splendid late Victorian 'Salisbury' pub in St Martins Lane
Tim Hunkin's water clock in Shorts Garden (sadly not working)


london-footprints.co.uk 2016

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