By Amelia Meyer
Covent Garden is a district within the country’s capital city of London. Just on the borders of the West End, this was once the site for the fruit and vegetable market (i.e. in the central square), but is now a fabulous shopping Mecca for locals and tourists alike. In addition, this district is home to a gorgeous array of historical and culturally-relevant buildings, including theatres and museums.
Originally, a portion of the southern boundary of what is today known as Covent Garden was used as part of the route used by the Romans on their way to Silchester.
Inside the old fruit market at Covent Garden. The area is now used for shops and stalls and is a major tourist venue.
Research and excavations indicate that this area was actually the centre of Lundenwic, a trading town established by the Anglo-Saxons after the Romans were forced to hurry back to Italy. This was at about 600 of our Common Era (CE). However, when Alfred the Great took leadership (almost 300 years later), he evidently moved the settlement into Londinium and the area that is now known as Covent Garden returned to being used as fields.
The name Covent Garden originated from as far back as 1200, when a document appeared with the reference to the Abbey garden that was owned and used by the monks. “Covent” is an Anglo-French term for a particular religious community. In 1515, the Abbey began to lease its walled garden out and adopted the name Covent Garden, which has remained to this day.
In 1540, Henry VIII took the land belonging to the Westminster Abbey for himself. This included Covent Garden. After leaving it to his son, Edward VI, it passed through a number of hands, each of which changed and developed it to some degree. Eventually, the houses in the gardens lost their aristocratic appeal and had begun to attract prostitutes and tavern-owners. In 1654, the first records appeared of the gardens being used as a market. The 1700’s saw Covent Garden a well-established “red light district”, an area devoted to the sex industry.
During the 1960’s, the majority of the Covent Garden properties were sold to the government-owned Covent Garden Authority. Soon, human- and vehicle congestion increased, demanding redevelopment and expansion. But, the local community was concerned, and their protests led to many of the buildings around the square being given listed building status, preventing redevelopment to large extent and protecting their historical value.
Surrounding Covent Garden are High Holborn, Drury Lane, the Strand and St. Martin’s Lane. Long Acre serves as its main point of access.
The retail industry and the entertainment facilities in and around Coven Garden is what sustain this area financially. Apple Market is one of the most frequented sections of Covent Garden. In generally, the area is popular for its street performances, clothing boutiques and novelty shops, guaranteed to keep visitors entranced by their sheer variety and abundance.
Other trendy must-sees in the area include:
•Neal Street (famous for its shoe shops)
•The London Transport Museum
•The Royal Opera House
•St. Paul’s Church
•The Seven Dials area
•The North Hall, West Piazza, and South Hall Courtyard (famed for magnificent street performances)
•The more than 60 pubs and bars in the Covent Garden area alone
•The Lamb & Flag in Rose Street (the area’s oldest pub)
For more information, please view: http://www.coventgardenlife.com/