Covent Garden

Covent Garden
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Covent Garden WC2

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9, 13, 15, 23, 24, 139, 153, RV1
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Charing Cross BKL NRN, Covent Garden PCL, Embankment BKL CRC DSC NRN, Holborn CNT PCL, Leicester Square NRN PCL
The nearest train station to Covent Garden is Covent Garden
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Inside the Covent Garden Piazza Downstairs in the Piazza Jubilee Market Jubilee Market, at Covent Garden St. Paul’s Church, in Covent Garden St. Paul’s Church
Covent Garden is #25 in our London Bucket List

Craig’s London blog> Read Craig’s review of Covent Garden  Check out my London blog for a full review, with photos and a video

Good for kids? Value for money? n/a Worth a visit?

Covent Garden is No.9 in the Top 10 things to do for free in London.

Covent Garden was designed by Inigo Jones in the 1630s. A small fruit and veg market was added in 1670, and became the longest running food fair in London.

Covent Garden Market

Covent Garden was not always the pleasant place that you see today – prisoners were dragged down the track on their way to be hanged at Tyburn. The area around St. Giles was the site of London’s first leprosy hospital, and it was here that the Great Plague took hold in 1665.

During Victorian times, Covent Garden was known as the city’s worst slum – a fact attested to by Dickens in his numerous novels.

The site was acquired by Henry VIII in the mid 16th-century. It was originally owned by the monks at Westminster Abbey, as a place to grow their vegetables. But when he scrapped the monasteries in 1536, he also grabbed their land. When Charles I came to power in 1625, he granted the Earl of Bedford a licence to build, and hired Inigo Jones to create a piazza.

Jones’s classical designs were rather wasted in 1670, when a fruit and veg market settled in the square. It expanded rapidly, attracting more and more vendors to the area – and changed forever Covent Garden’s make-up. Out went the wealthy nobles—moved to better premises in St. James’s and Whitehall—and in came the lowly street traders.

Covent Garden Piazza, and Bow Street Runners

With the influx of street traders came the brothels, crime and undesirables. The authorities soon came up with a novel solution – the Bow Street Runners.

The Bow Street Runners were established in 1751 to tackle rising crime. This voluntary group ran in opposition to the constables, who were rumoured to be in collusion with the criminals. They were disbanded in 1839, ten years after the creation of the Metropolitan Police Force.

A stunning new market hall was added in the early 19th-century (what we now call the Piazza), and contains small shops, stalls and the Punch and Judy pub.

The ground outside is now permanently filled with buskers, acrobats, mimes and various other kinds of street entertainment.

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  • Admin – “There's an underground station called covent garden, on the Piccadilly line.”

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Events at Covent Garden

Street performers at Covent Garden   From

If you enjoy this then try: Leicester Square (you can walk it in 7 mins); London Transport Museum (you can walk it in less than 2 mins); Royal Opera House (you can walk it in less than 2 mins); St. Paul’s Church (you can walk it in less than 3 mins) and Trafalgar Square (you can walk it in 7 mins).

Sunday organ recitals at St Pauls Cathedral Listen to one of the country's finest organists play on the Grand Organ at St Paul's every Sunday
Classical music at the Old Operating Theatre Where better to listen to some beautiful classical music than inside an authentic Old Operating Theatre from Victorian times?
Kader Attia: The Museum of Emotion The Hayward Gallery is putting on an exhibition of artworks by Kader Attia called The Museum of Emotion
Berliozs Requiem at St. Pauls Cathedral The Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus will be giving a performance of Berlioz's Requiem at St. Paul's Cathedral.
After-hours Victorian surgery demonstration Visit the 19th-century Operating Theatre after-hours and witness what a Victorian operation was like from the stands
Alun Cochrane performing at the Comedy Store Alun Cochrane will be doing some stand-up at London's most popular comedy club - all 6-foot 4-inches of him
Craig’s review of London Buses I'm fifth in line behind three beer bottles and a half-eaten hamburger in a sauce-splattered carton. The other guy standing here is trying to peel the pages of his rain-sodden newspaper apart while we're waiting for the bus to loom out of the morning mist. There's a stream of headlights approaching down the road but by the time they arrive they have revealed themselves to be cars… continued
Craig’s review of Leicester Square Everybody looks wrecked in the morning but I'm the middle-aged kind of wrecked, where you roll out of bed feeling like you've only had five minutes kip. These sleeping kids in Leicester Square are the other type: they look like they're at the tail-end of a long night out that still hasn't ended yet. I'm glad I don't have to do that anymore -- I much prefer Leicester Square during th… continued
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