The old market buildings, restored to their original condition are now the centre piece of the Covent Garden tourist destination, a pedestrian area which, together with the surrounding streets offers a wide range of small shops, boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants and pubs. Here also are the world famous Royal Opera House, the historic London Transport Museum.
Historically the area was a 'Convent Garden', sold in 1552, following the Dissolution of the Monasteries to the Earl of Bedford, and laid out in the 17th century for the 4th Earl as a residential piazza by Inigo Jones. Also by him is the church of St Paul's Covent Garden, the 'actors church', occupying the eastern side of the Piazza whose portal sheltered the first of Punch's Puppet Shows to take place in England, a fact noted in Samuel Pepys' diary for 1662, and indicated by a plaque in the church portico.
A small market, given Royal Charter in 1671 grew into London's wholesale fruit and vegetable market which moved to large new premises at Nine Elms in 1974. Various schemes to redevelop and modernise the area were resisted until the then GLC undertook its restoration.
Covent Garden has become key tourist destination, a vibrant retail trading and leisure precinct with promenades and paved areas alive with street theatre.
Telephone: 0207 836 9136
Address: Covent Garden, WC2E 8RF
Website: Covent Garden London
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