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Covent Garden, London

In the 1630s the Earl of Bedford asked architect Inigo Jones to build an Italian style piazza on land formerly owned by Westminster Abbey. This was to be England's first public square and was to combine residential buildings with arcaded shops. Charles I gave his personal support to the scheme. Unfortunately wealthy residents living in the square began to tire of its open nature and soon retired to more secluded squares such as Bloomsbury Square where their privacy could be maintained. Covent Garden was left to "artistic" types.

The small fruit and vegetable market which had its home in the square began to grow, and by the nineteenth century it came to dominate the square and its buildings. Covent Garden Market continued until 1973, when it was moved out to Nine Elms. Today very lttle remains of Jones's original Piazza, although much of the old market has been saved by turning the area into a development of shops and restaurants.

Directions: Covent Garden is close to the Strand. From the Strand walk up Bedford Street. Click here for an interactive road and satellite map centred on Covent Garden.






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