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August 27th, 2012

Things you may not know about Covent Garden: London’s first public square

Things you may not know about Covent Garden: London’s first public square

A view of Covent Garden during lunch time.

We’re settling in at the new headquarters of Prompt London  in Covent Garden, and we are slowly learning more and more interesting facts about our new home.  It’s renowned for its pedestrianised public square that serves as home to the many street performers who entertain the constant flow of people exploring the area’s shops, cafes, market stalls and restaurants. The location of the current square used to be part of arable fields used to grow vegetables during the Middle Ages. It was known as the ‘convent garden’ due to the fact it was owned by monks of the local St. Peter convent in Westminster.

But the monks had all their land, including their vegetable field, taken away from them when King Henry VIII confiscated land belonging to the monasteries in 1540. The king transferred ownership of the land to the first Earl of Bedford, a man named John Baron Russell. Nearly 100 years later, in 1632, the fourth Earl of Bedford, Francis Russell, commissioned Inigo Jones, a famous architect of the time, to build luxury accommodations which he hoped would encourage wealthy tenants to occupy the area.

Jones was influenced by Italian architecture after he studied it for many years. He designed London’s first arcaded, public square based on his interpretation of Italian piazzas, surrounding it with a grid street plan and marking a significant moment in English architecture and town planning.

For more fascinating facts on London and our new home in Covent Garden, be sure to follow us on Twitter: @PromptLondon.

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