Sep 27, 2008

Covent Garden - A Brief History

by John Richardson

...The Covent Garden area then reverted to agricultural land until the 17th century. It was then the scene of the first experiment in London of town planning, and the creation of the first public square in the country. It was the work of three men - the Earl of Bedford the developer, Charles I, who gave his strong support to the scheme, and Inigo Jones the most important architect of the day.
The enthusiasm of Jones for classical, especially Palladian, architecture was to have an enormous effect on London's later buildings. Having seen and studied the many public squares in Italy, he brought the idea to London and he also surrounded it with a perfectly straight grid of streets. Londoners, used to the random and haphazard arrangement of winding streets, alleyways and courtyards, must have been amazed. Architecturally, it was a watershed in English architecture.
The Piazza was designed by Jones with arcaded houses to the north and east. (These are now all gone but more modern developments have sought to remind us of them.) To the west was the church of St Paul, flanked by two houses, and to the south there was at first no development because the Piazza backed on to the mansion of the Bedford family, which faced the Strand, the main artery of London connecting City and Court at Westminster.
This new square was a public one - and meant to be so...
(to find out more..)

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