Covent Garden

I am a frequent visitor to London and am well used to all of the principle sights but one place that I always seem to find myself is Covent Garden. The site of the old fruit and veg market is now a place of many delights for both tourists and Londoners alike and I for one find it difficult to stay away for too long.


Covent Garden has a long history. There has been a settlement on the site since Roman times and it had become a busy trading centre by the 7th century. Indeed it was a port in those days but activities ceased in the 9th century as Covent Garden was too vulnerable to Viking invaders. It found a new purpose in the 13th century as a large kitchen garden for the convent of St Peter at Westminster and became a popular place to find fruit and vegetables. Following the Great Fire of London the convent garden was established as the principle centre for fruit and vegetables in the capital due to the demise of rival markets in the disaster. The market remained preeminent in London until the need for accessible, modern facilities saw the traders relocate to a new site at Nine Elms in Vauxhall.



The market was then transformed into a shopping district but the beauty of the architecture was saved for future generations and now the area is a vibrant place to wander the streets and shop. Leading names like Disney and Apple can be found on the main square which also boasts many fashion outlets. In the neighbouring streets you can find boutique kids clothing stores, similar to Ceremony by Wojcik, numerous shoe shops such as Office and Schuh and several outdoor specialists for hiking gear and ski wear like Ellis Brigham and North Face.


Shops and More

The market buildings themselves house many shops and market stalls selling crafts and gifts and there are several cafes and coffee shops to grab some refreshment. The vibrant atmosphere of the piazza and surrounding streets is enhanced by the street entertainers who are always present.  You can enjoy everything from living statues to magicians and the sound of opera often fills the buildings. There is nothing quite like indulging in coffee and cakes whilst a tenor performs Nessun Dorma! The streets surrounding the piazza have long been associated with entertainment. The diarist Samuel Pepys noted that the first Punch and Judy shows were staged in Covent Garden and today the pub in the market buildings is called the Punch and Judy, celebrating the rich history of the area.

All Day and More

You will also find the Royal Opera House and the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden and several West End theatres are close by making this a destination that could easily fill a whole day and more. No matter how many times you visit Covent Garden there is always something new to experience and free entertainment to provide an exciting backdrop to any time you spend in the square. No wonder I always feel the need to jump off the underground at Covent Garden!


Article By Sally Stacey