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Guide to Covent Garden History

The Covent Garden history guide is managed by Hotel-assist.Com who are a local London accommodation source. We know every hotel and can advise accordingly to suit your accommodation budget and specific requirements.

History permeates the very atmosphere of London and nowhere is this connection to the past more evident than at Covent Garden. Covent Garden's "modern" history starts as early as the 1600s, when the area was chosen for a revolutionary project that changed the natural of how people interacted in central London. Of course, well before that people were living in the area, as far back as before Roman times, when London was then known as Londinium.

Dubbed "Convent Garden" during the reign of King John (1199 to 1216), the area we today call Convent Garden was once home to the Convent of St Peter which, because of its large kitchen garden, became an important location for fruits and vegetables throughout the Middle Ages. The area retained this status until the 1500s, when King Henry the VIII dissolved the monasteries and confiscated their land. Covent Garden was given by the king to the first Earl of Bedford and used as agricultural land for the next several decades.

Early in the 17th century, Covent Garden became the site of the first public square in England. Given the support of Charles I, the area was redeveloped by the fourth Earl of Bedford and designed by Inigo Jones, most highly regarded of the English Renaissance architects. The centerpiece of Jones's design was the piazza. The Church of St Paul was erected as the western end of the piazza, where Jones's love of classical architecture can still be seen today. An open-air market existed where the covered one now stands.

Soon Covent Garden became a hub for market traders. After the Great Fire of 1666, when other important London markets burned down, Covent Garden became England's most important market. Items from across the globe (much of which was under the reign of the British Empire) were shipped to London, making their way from the Thames to Covent Garden. As commerce in the area grew, so did the options for entertainment, with Punch and Judy shows occurring and playhouses sprouting up. The West End as we conceive it today was born.

Ironically, Jones's innovative and accessible square was, at first, too public for the tastes of many prominent residences living nearby. Put off by the lack of privacy, they sought out more private parks and squares. By the 18th century, Covent Garden had developed into an infamous red light district and retained its status as such into the 19th century. But as the 20th century progressed, the economic worth of this part of central London as a market, entertainment mecca and tourist destination helped transform Covent Garden to the more respectable locale we know today. From medieval convent to notorious red light district, Covent Garden's storied past is a fascinating and important part of the history of Britain. Covent Garden provides a first rate opportunity to step back in time and celebrate London's olden days, while still enjoying the best of modern comforts and conveniences.

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5 star hotels

The Savoy Hotel

The Strand, London, WC2R 0EU GB
The Savoy Hotel has been accurately restored to its former glory, with modern facilities and new rooms to ensure your satisfaction. Covent Garden is a 5 minute walk.

One Aldwych

1 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4RH GB
Perfect location on the edge of Covent Garden in the West End, this boutique hotel is in an ideal area to access a multitude of restaurants and shops. Walk across Westminster Bridge and you are at the Southbank and the London Eye.
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Grange Holborn Hotel

50-60 Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, London, WC1B 4AR
The Holborn Hotel is located in the heart of London's West End many well known attractions are a very short walk, these include Theatreland, the Strand, Covent Garden, the City, Soho, China Town, Leicester Square and Oxford Street. Holborn underground station is just 200 yards walk and offers a direct transfer to London Heathrow Airport Terminals. More like a good 4 star but even so great weekend deals here.
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4 star hotels

Radisson Kenilworth Hotel

Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LB GB
The Radisson Edwardian Kenilworth is situated in a prime location in Bloomsbury, in London's lively West End. Only 50 metres from the British Museum, this four-star hotel presents luxurious accommodation with a welcoming and calming atmosphere. This hotel is about a 15 minute easy walk to Covent Garden.
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3 star hotels

Strand Palace Hotel

372 Strand, London, WC2R OJJ GB
A superb location on The Strand and very close to Covent Garden. It is a little dated but this is reflected in the prices.
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3 star apartment

Citadines Apartments Trafalgar Square

18-21 Northumberland Avenue, London, WC2N 5EA
Just a few minutes stroll to Covent Garden from Citadines Apartments just off Trafalgar Square in the West End. From here you can also walk to the London Eye.
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St Giles Hotel

1 Bedford Avenue, London, WC1B 3AU, United Kingdom
Located on Tottenham Court Road near the Dominion Theatre, the St Giles is a large tourist class hotel offering value for money accommodation. Covent Garden is about a 15 minute easy walk.
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2 star hotels

Royal National

Bedford Way , London, WC1H 0DG GB
The Royal National Hotel is about a 15 minute walk to Covent Garden. This is the largest hotel in London. Rooms are adequate but a little dated. They do have family rooms and on site car parking.
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