St. Paul’s Church

St. Paul’s Church, in Covent Garden
St. Paul’s Church map
St. Paul’s Church, Bedford Street, Covent Garden WC2E 9ED
Work 0207 836 5221

Opening times and price

Opening hours:
8.30 AM to 5 PM (Mon–Fri), 9 AM to 1 PM (Sun)
Visiting hours are subject to change
Time required:
A typical visit to St. Paul’s Church lasts 30 mins (approx)

Getting to St. Paul’s Church

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6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 77A, 91, 139, 176
London bus fares
Charing Cross BKL NRN, Covent Garden PCL, Embankment BKL CRC DSC NRN, Leicester Square NRN PCL
The nearest train station to St. Paul’s Church is Covent Garden
London underground fares

Due to its close location to Theatre Royal and the Royal Opera House, St. Paul’s church in London’s Covent Garden has become known as the actor’s church.

Covent Garden was not always the pleasant place that you see today – the area was once the site of London’s first leprosy hospital, and it was here that the Great Plague took hold in 1665. When Charles I came to power in 1625 he granted the Earl of Bedford a licence to build, and he hired Inigo Jones to create the piazza.

History of St. Paul’s church

The church was always meant to be an integral part of the piazza, but the Earl didn’t fancy the flash columns and colonnades that dominated the wings – probably due to the extra expense. So he asked Jones for the simplest possible design—no more than a barn—to which Jones replied you shall have the handsomest barn in England.

It was originally designed so that it opened onto the square, but the church men insisted that the altar be placed in its traditional setting – against the east wall. So the front door that you can see outside is actually a fake, and the altar stands behind it.

The actor’s church

Inside you can see some of the plaques and memorials to long-gone thespians – people like Charlie Chaplin and Vivien Leigh. The artist J W Turner also has a plaque here, to mark his baptism in 1775. George Bernard Shaw famously set the opening scene of Pygmalion outside the entrance.

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You might like our guide to religious events in London, where you can look up services today, tomorrow and at the weekend. We also have a guide to religious events in November, December and January

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