Behind the scenes
Covent Garden is rich in centuries worth of history, pop culture moment and a couple of surprises. Think you know Covent Garden? Think again with these little known facts from around the neighbourhood.
The journey from Covent Garden Tube station to Leicester Square on the Piccadilly line is the shortest trip on the whole London Underground network, covering 260 metres and taking only about 20 seconds. This blink-or-you’ll-miss-it trip costs £4.80, best save your pennies and jump off at Leicester Square and leave through exit 4 to simply walk up Long Acre.
Ever looked up when you’re standing on Floral Street and wonder what is that bridge between two buildings? The Bridge of Aspiration provides the dancers of the Royal Ballet School with a direct link to the Grade I listed Royal Opera House. A concertina of 23 square portals with glazed intervals is supported from an aluminium spine beam. These rotate in sequence for the skew in alignment, performing a quarter-turn overall along the length of the bridge.
In 2014, Willemijn Verkaik surprised audiences by performed Defying Gravity from the musical Wicked on top of Ladurée’s terrace at the Olivier Awards 40th anniversary celebration in Covent Garden.
John Montagu, otherwise known as the Earl of Sandwich, first ordered a slab of meat between two pieces of bread in 1762, at a society club called the Beef Steak Club at the Shakespeare’s Head Pub which was on the now disappeared Wych Street, off Drury Lane, thereby inventing Britain’s most popular lunchtime meal. The sandwich was invented out of necessity to keep the Earl’s fingers and playing cards clean from grease while he was gambling.
In 1974, Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke starred in a TV special which was called Julie and Dick in Covent Garden. The show included song and dance numbers mixed with slapstick fun. Ironically, none of it was actually shot in Covent Garden but actually on a soundstage in America.
Soho may have noses but Covent Garden has ears. Walk along Floral Street and try to spot the two ears mounted on the walls by artist Tim Fishlock who made casts of his own ears to create them.
As the world famous supermodel recalls of being spotted
“I remember the day she spotted me in the street. It was a warm April afternoon. I was hanging out in Covent Garden with my friends Suzanne Howard and Maxine Restall, who were blonde and beautiful like most of my friends at the time. I should have gone straight home after school but Covent Garden was always such a fun artsy place, full of music and people dancing in the square, that I liked stopping there on the way home.”
In 1979, the first Paul Smith store in London opened at 44 Floral Street, Covent Garden. Today, Paul Smith’s Covent Garden store sells everything from suits to suitcases for men and women. Visit Paul Smith Floral Street to discover the latest clothes, shoes and accessories from all Paul Smith collections.
Covent Garden was developed into a luxury shopping and entertainment district in 1632, commissioned by Francis Russell, the 4th Earl of Bedford. The architect, Inigo Jones, was heavily influenced by Italian piazzas and created the elegant shopping arcades that Covent Garden is now famous for.