Walk 87: Covent Garden Circular: Any ‘Venezuelan Beaver Cheese’ my good man?

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 2 miles (3.22km)

Time to walk: This is a very short walk distance-wise, but you could easily spend half a day exploring all the areas we’re going to visit

Difficulty: Easy, flat & all on hard surfaces

Parking: Don’t even think of taking the car!

Public toilets: Lots of cafes etc en route

Map of the route: As you can see there’s lots of wandering…

This is another walk adapted from the excellent ‘London’s Hidden Walks’ & they never fail to open your eyes to parts of London you’ve never seen before. It’s been updated in February 2018 following our friends doing the walk & visiting some places we couldn’t get into, including the London Graphic Centre, the Freemasons’ Hall & Corpus Christi Catholic Church which is in the final stages of a major renovation

We start in the ever popular Covent Garden & then take in Drury Lane, before moving across to the St Giles area which is little visited by the throng of tourists, yet has some real jewels to explore

Ready to explore? Then…

Let’s Walk!

1. Our walk starts outside Covent Garden Underground Station

Today this is one of the busiest areas of London, but in 1200 belonged to Westminster Abbey, whose ‘convent garden’ produced fruit & veg for the Abbey & its 40 acres. Any surplus was sold to the public

It was seized by Henry VIII & granted to the Earls of Bedford in 1552. The 4th Earl commissioned Inigo Jones to build some fine houses to attract wealthy tenants. Jones designed the Italianate arcaded square along with the church of St Paul’s. The design of the square was new to London & had a significant influence on modern town planning, acting as the prototype for new estates as London grew

2. Walk down St James Street to the Piazza which everyone knows. Stop to admire the street artists that perform in the area, but keep your hand on your wallet

In the 1600s due to civil war the square deteriorated as people moved out & it was taken over by a great vegetable, fruit & flower market, especially after the granting of a market charter by Charles II. Over the next 50 years it would evolve into London’s largest & most famous market. However, many of the surrounding houses were converted into brothels, gambling dens, shops, turkish baths & coffee houses

 3. Our visit to this marvellous piazza starts on the western side (so turn right) towards the mostly disregarded church of St Paul’s, also known as the Actors Church. We confess that we’ve often stood in front of this church watching performers without really knowing it was a real one. If it looks familiar then you may have seen Eliza Doolittle selling her flowers here when she was discovered by Henry Higgins in ‘My Fair Lady’

The only way to see what really lies behind this facade is to walk though the arch on the right…

The front Tuscan facade is the only original part that remains of Jones’s building. Once through the arch we emerge into a secluded & almost secret garden (maybe best not tell everyone!)

Walk round the back to arrive at the grander entrance. Completed in 1633, St Paul’s was the first entirely new church to be built in London since the Reformation. Its design & the layout of the square have been attributed to Inigo Jones although firm documentary evidence is lacking. According to an often repeated story, recorded by Horace Walpole, Lord Bedford asked Jones to design a simple church “not much better than a barn”, to which the architect replied “Then you shall have the handsomest barn in England”

St Paul’s is known as “The Actors Church” & its connection with the theatre began as early as 1663 with the establishment of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane & was further assured in 1723 with the opening of Covent Garden Theatre, now the Royal Opera House

On 9 May 1662, Samuel Pepys noted in his diary the first “Italian puppet play” under the portico, which was the first recorded performance of “Punch and Judy”. Every May a puppet festival & service takes place at the church to commemorate that event

The portico of St Paul’s was the setting for the first scene of Shaw’s Pygmalion, the play that was later adapted as My Fair Lady

4. It’s usually open so have a look inside to see the graves & plaques of many known acting names…

When we visited we were lucky to be able to listen to a piano recital…

The artist JMW Turner & dramatist Sir William S Gilbert (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame) were both baptised at St Paul’s. Among others also buried here are Grinling Gibbons, Sir Peter Lely, Thomas Arne (composer of “Rule Britannia”) & the Australian conductor Sir Charles Mackerras

The ashes of Dame Ellen Terry & Dame Edith Evans rest in St Paul’s. Memorials in the church are dedicated to many famous personalities of the 20th century. The Avenue of Stars, which commemorated many notable figures & groups from the entertainment industry, formerly passed outside the church

5. Walk back round the piazza side of the church & wander round the former market buildings…

The first record of a “new market in Covent Garden” is in 1654 when market traders set up stalls against the garden wall of Bedford House. The Earl of Bedford acquired a private charter from Charles II in 1670 for a fruit & vegetable market, permitting him & his heirs to hold a market every day except Sundays & Christmas Day. The original market, consisting of wooden stalls & sheds, became disorganised & disorderly, & John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford, requested an Act of Parliament in 1813 to regulate it. He then commissioned Charles Fowler in 1830 to design the neo-classical market building that is the heart of Covent Garden today

Further buildings were added—the Floral hall, Charter Market &, in 1904, the Jubilee Market for foreign flowers was built by Cubitt & Howard

By the end of the 1960s, traffic congestion was causing problems for the market, which required increasingly large lorries for deliveries & distribution. Redevelopment was considered, but protests from the Covent Garden Community Association in 1973 prompted the Home Secretary, Robert Carr, to give dozens of buildings around the square listed building status, preventing redevelopment. The following year the market relocated to its new site, New Covent Garden Market, about 3 miles south west at Nine Elms

The central building re-opened as a shopping centre in 1980, with cafes, pubs, small shops & a craft market called the Apple Market. Among the first shops to relocate here was Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Shop. Another market, the Jubilee Market, is held in the Jubilee Hall on the south side of the square

6. Walk out of the market on the east side. The eastern facade has been transformed into a piece of art using 32,000 square feet of mirror, put in place to hide renovation works. Instead of simply using scaffold, the Grade II building is dressed in 67 mirrors, entitled ‘Reflect London’. Design agency Sculptivate & creative advisors Verrecchia & Partners both worked on the piece, which will stay in place for around eight months. When our friends did this walk in February 2018 the renovations had been completed

Turn right & pass the London Transport Museum…

The London Transport Museum seeks to conserve & explain the transport heritage of Britain’s capital city. The majority of the museum’s exhibits originated in the collection of London Transport but, since the creation of Transport for London (TfL) in 2000, the remit of the museum has expanded to cover all aspects of transportation in the city

The museum operates from two sites within London. The main site in Covent Garden  reopened in 2007 after a two-year refurbishment & the other site, located in Acton, & known as the London Transport Museum Depot is principally a storage site that is open on regular visitor days throughout the year. The museum was briefly renamed London’s Transport Museum to reflect its coverage of topics beyond London Transport, but it reverted to its previous name in 2007 to coincide with the reopening of the Covent Garden site

7. Turn left down the alley by the side of the Museum & then left round the back of it when reaching the street…

At the junction of Wellington & Tavistock Streets, look over the road to see a blue plaque above the Charles Dickens Coffee House (undergoing renovation when we were there)

The building was once the home of Dicken’s popular magazine ‘All the Year Round’ & he once lived in a flat above the office. The magazine contained serialisations of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ & ‘Great Expectations’, as well as ‘The Woman in White’ which is often staged at nearby theatres

8. Turn right along Wellington Street as it contains a popular theatre, The Lyceum

The origins of the theatre date to 1765 & it has hosted a variety of entertainments including a circus, a chapel, & the first London exhibition of waxworks displayed by Madame Tussaud. From 1816 to 1830 it served as The English Opera House. After a fire, the house was rebuilt & reopened on 14 July 1834 & was unique in that it has a balcony overhanging the dress circle. In 1904 the theatre was almost completely rebuilt & richly ornamented

It closed in 1939 & was set to be demolished, but was saved & converted into a Mecca Ballroom in 1951, styled the Lyceum Ballroom, where many well-known bands played. The Lyceum was closed in 1986, but restored to theatrical use in 1996 & has since hosted The Lion King

9. Turn back up Wellington Street – as you can see the early part of this walk was slightly wet!

On the right if you fancy a bit of lunch & sophistication, is San Carlo Chichetti. Just stand & admire the window!

San Carlo Cicchetti reinterprets the delightful Venetian culinary custom of cicchetti, delicious small plate dishes to share or eat alone, enjoyed with a beer or glass of wine.Each season Cicchetti launches a new, expertly crafted menu. We haven’t been yet, but it’s on the list

10. On the corner turn right towards the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

This is a fabulous little area of London as, if you look behind the theatrical facade, you’ll find some gems of bars etc

The Theatre Royal Drury Lane is London’s oldest theatre, the current building being the fourth on the site, the earliest of which dates back to 1663

The building that stands here today opened in 1812 & is currently owned by the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber

11. Opposite the main entrance to the theatre is one of those pubs you just have to visit at least once in your lives…the Nell of Old Drury

The Nell of Old Drury is one of the oldest pubs in Covent Garden. An underground tunnel connects the pub & the Theatre Royal opposite which was allegedly used by Charles II when visiting Nell Gwyn during the late 1600s.

The pub was originally called the Lamb, but was renamed The Sir John Falstaff by the Victorians. During this period, pubs were often used as exhibition venues for what was considering exotic at the time. The Sir John Falstaff played its part in this era with a tattooed man from the South Seas & a Zulu warrior woman! The pub also made a cameo appearance in the Hitchcock movie ‘Frenzy’ which was set in the area

But in our eyes….if you fancy a really good pint at local rather than London prices then this is a place to go. And the best house pint is Adnams Broadside – pure nectar!

12. Walk back up to the junction & turn right down Russell Street along the side of the theatre. In May 1800 James Hadfield fired two shots George III whilst the King sat in the Royal Circle. The King wasn’t hit & asked for the performance to continue. The theatre also has the reputation of being the most haunted in London with a man in 18th century grey clothes being seen many times

Over the road’s the Fortune Theatre which has a reputation for hosting horror…

Since 1989 the theatre has hosted the long running play The Woman in Black. A celebration was held in 2001 to mark the 5,000th performance. From 9th – 13th September 2008, the show was performed in Japanese in celebration of the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the UK & Japan

13. Continue along Russell Street to the junction with Drury Lane. Samuel Pepys walked along here in March 1665 & saw an ‘abundance of loose women stood at the doors, which, God forgive me, did put evil thoughts in me but proceeded no further, blessed be God’

Nothing much changed over the following years as in 1725 one visitor noted there were 107 brothels along the street

14. Turn left up Drury Lane…

On the left’s the small Drury Lane Gardens which is a small public garden created in 1877 on the site of a former burial ground of St Martin in the Fields, the first burial ground to be made into a public garden in Westminster following closure as a result of the Burial Acts, in this case due to the intervention of Octavia Hill. The mortuary & lodge survive either side of the entrance, together with 19th century gate piers

During the 19th century the graveyard became overcrowded & in Dickens’ ‘Bleak House’ he described it as ‘a hemmed in churchyard, pestiferous & obscene, whence malignant diseases are communicated to the bodies of our dear brothers & sisters who have not departed…’

15. Carry on up Drury Lane & turn right into Great Queen Street where ahead on the right is the imposing headquarters of the Freemasons…

Freemasons’ Hall is the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England & the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of England, as well as a meeting place for many Masonic Lodges in the London area. It has been a Masonic meeting place since 1775 & there’s been three Masonic buildings on the site, with the current incarnation being opened in 1933 as a memorial to Freemasons killed in World War I

Despite its reputation for secrecy, parts of the building are open to the public daily including the free museum. Its preserved classic Art Deco style, together with its regular use as a film & television location (MI5 HQ in Spooks), have made it a tourist destination

Art deco light inside the Hall

Our friends recommend going into the Freemasons Hall & said it’s amazing with art deco lights & highly decorated ceilings. There are displays about the masons, their rituals & their origins as well. The exhibition contained a Leather Satchel owned by Sir Malcolm Campbell lettered with his name & dates. There is a shop inside where you can buy postcards & also another opposite where you can buy an apron or a wand…

16. Turn back across the square, slightly down Drury Lane again…

…before turning right along the narrow Broad Court…

…to reach the charming statue of Dame Margot Fonteyn

Dame Margot Fonteyn de Arias, DBE was an English ballerina who spent her entire career as a dancer with the Royal Ballet, eventually being appointed Prima Ballerina Assoluta of the company by Queen Elizabeth II

17. At the end is Bow Street, famous for its police station & magistrates court which is on the left

The first court at Bow Street was established in 1740 when Colonel Sir Thomas de Veil, a Westminster justice, sat as a magistrate in his home at Number 4. It was originally on the site of the Royal Opera House opposite. De Veil was succeeded by novelist & playwright Henry Fielding in 1747. He was appointed a magistrate for the City of Westminster in 1748, at a time when the problem of gin consumption & resultant crime was at its height. There were eight licensed premises in the street & Fielding reported that every fourth house in Covent Garden was a gin shop. In 1749, as a response to the call to find an effective means to tackle the increasing crime & disorder, Fielding brought together eight reliable constables, known as “Mr Fielding’s People”, who soon gained a reputation for honesty & efficiency in their pursuit of criminals

The constables came to be known as the Bow Street Runners. The early 19th century saw a dramatic increase in number & scope of the police based at Bow Street with the 1805 formation of the Bow Street Horse Patrol, which covered to the edge of London & was the first uniformed police unit in Britain, & in 1821 the Dismounted Horse Patrole which covered suburban areas

When the Metropolitan Police Service was established in 1829, a station house was sited at numbers 25 & 27

People that have stood in the dock here include Oscar Wilde, Lord Haw Haw, Dr Crippen, Rudolf Hess, the Krays, Emmeline Pankhurst, Jonathan Aitken, Casanova & Lord Archer. Also in Dickens’ Oliver the Artful Dodger appeared here charged with theft!

18. Across Bow Street is the imposing home of The Royal Opera House…

The Royal Opera House is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet & the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Originally called the Theatre Royal, it served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later, Handel’s first season of operas began. Many of his operas & oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden & had their premieres there

The current building is the third theatre on the site following disastrous fires in 1808 & 1856. The facade, foyer & auditorium date from 1858, but almost every other element of the present complex dates from an extensive reconstruction in the 1990s costing over £200 million

Even if you can’t get a performance ticket the theatre’s open daily for tours

19. Walk along the right side of the Opera House down the narrow Flora Street…

On the right here’s a cracking London chain restaurant…Masala Zone & we can’t recommend the small dish Thali enough. The chain specialises in Indian Street food & is always excellent value. The Covent Garden restaurant has numerous puppets hanging from its roof in a wedding procession & is quite spectacular

20. The amazing structure above is called the Bridge of Aspirations & connects the Royal Opera House with the Royal Ballet School

If you’re lucky you might spot some budding Billy Elliots

21. Turn down the narrow alley at the side of Masala Zone

The next bit of this walk feels like we could actually be the Artful Dodger as we’re crossing busy main streets by narrow, hidden back alleys without being seen by any of the crowds that walk close by

Cross Long Acre & pass through Oldhams Walk…

At the end go down the steps to arrive in a gorgeous part of London

22. Turn left & then at the Crown & Anchor right along Neal Street. Turn left at the next junction into Shelton Street…

If you’re a foodie this is a great area. It’s also where Antonio Carluccio opened his first restaurant. DO NOT miss the cheese shop, Neal’s Yard Dairy – you’ll know where it is from the smell!

Neal’s Yard Dairy is a London artisan cheese retailer & former cheesemaker, described as “London’s foremost cheese store.” The store is considered as a forerunner of the British wholefood movement & an important part of the revival of London’s Covent Garden district

Founded in 1979 by Nick Saunders & Randolph Hodgson as a cheesemaker’s shop, one of their first customers was Monty Python‘s John Cleese. Unfortunately, the new owners were still learning how to make cheese, & “had only managed yoghurt that day, so it all rather descended into a Monty Python sketch”

Despite this rocky start, the store grew from a cheesemaker into a retailer of artisan, mostly British & Irish cheeses, including farmhouse Cheddar cheese & varieties such as Stinking Bishop. The company now sells about 500 tons of cheese a year through this store, its shop in South London’s Borough Market, & through its exports worldwide, especially the United States

23. Turn right into the simply fabulous Neal’s Yard with its colourful shops & buildings…

It’s named after the 17th century developer, Thomas Neale & now contains several health food cafes & values driven retailers such as Neal’s Yard Remedies, Neal’s Yard Dairy, Casanova & Daughters & Wild Food Cafe.

We can recommend walking into Neal’s Yard Remedies simply for the smells & amazing range of products they stock…

In the 60’s & 70’s it was a “happening place” & many people associated with it helped prevent the bulldozers demolish Covent Garden piazza

There’s a blue plaque to Monty Python. In 1976 Michael Palin & Terry Gilliam bought these offices as studios & editing suite for Python films & other projects.

24. Exit the Yard straight ahead…

…& through the tunnel

When we did this walk again in January 2018 the passageway contained a new Banksy-style piece of art by street artist Bambi. It portrays Princess Diana as Mary Poppins in ‘Be As Naughty As You Want’

25. This again is a completely new area of London for us. Turn right along Monmouth Street…

There’s a very interesting lighting shop on the right – we loved the bowler hats. There’s also another blue plaque here showing where the former Beatles Manager, Brian Epstein once lived

At the end is a large orange building called Central St Giles which is part of other multi-coloured buildings nearby

Central Saint Giles is a mixed-use development in central London. Built at a cost of £450 million & completed in May 2010, it was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano & was his first work in the UK. The development consists of two buildings of up to 15 storeys in height, arranged around a public courtyard lined with shops & restaurants. It is chiefly notable for its facades, covered with 134,000 glazed tiles in vivid shades of green, orange, lime & yellow. It has attracted a number of high-profile tenants including NBC Universal, MindShare & Google

At the junction on the right’s the Shaftesbury Theatre

26. Turn left along St Giles High Street…

The area’s called after St Giles in the Fields Church which is on the left

St Giles in the Fields, also commonly known as the Poets’ Church, was built between 1731 & 1733. It was dedicated to the patron Saint of lepers &, in the Middle Ages, was an important site for public hangings. When the gallows were moved nearer Marble Arch, prisoners from Newgate Prison would still stop here to have a final drink at one of the taverns near the Resurrection Gate which stands at the front

It was where William Hogarth drew ‘Gin Lane’, his famous engraving in 1751 which showed the outcasts & drunks induced by the spirit

A real life tragedy happened in 1814 when the local Horseshoe Brewery exploded & flooded the area with 10,000 gallons of beer which drowned 8 people in their cellars

The area was also affected heavily by the Plague. It’s said that the high number of victims buried in the churchyard caused the excessive damp in the church. Today you can still feel the downcast element of the area. Sir John Oldcastle, who was the character Shakespeare based Falstaff on, was slowly executed here by burning after being charged with heresy

27. Let’s look inside…

On the left side as you enter is a pulpit from which John & Charles Wesley both preached

28. Come back out of the church, turn right & then left into a London Street that is “Mecca” to guitarists…Demark Street. All we’re going to do is indulge by walking down the right side & then back up the other…

The street was developed in the late 17th century & named after Prince George of Denmark. Since the 1950s it has been associated with British popular music, first via publishers & later by recording studios & music shops

Want one….

The street was originally residential, but became used for commercial purposes in the 19th century. At first, metalwork was a popular trade but it became most famous as Britain’s “Tin Pan Alley” housing numerous music publishers’ offices. This market declined in the 1960s to be replaced by music shops & independent recording studios

The Rolling Stones recorded their first two albums at Regent Sound Studio & others that have recorded here include The Kinks, Tom Jones, Manfred Mann, Bob Marley, The Small Faces, Jimi Hendrix & Stevie Wonder

The Kinks wrote a song called Denmark Street & Simon & Garfunkel‘s ‘The Sound of Silence’ & ‘Homeward Bound were rejected by Mills Music. Reg Dwight (Elton John) started out as an office boy there, writing ‘Your Song’ in the office

The Sex Pistols lived above No.6 & recorded their first demos there & David Bowie lived in a camper van on the street so he could be in the midst of things

The Blue Plaque in the photo above commemorates ‘Tin Pan Alley’

Unfortunately everywhere there’s always ‘ying & yang’ & No.1 on the corner was once a Job Centre where mass murderer Dennis Nielsen worked. He was responsible for the deaths of at least 15 men in the late 1970’s & early 80’s

29. What a fabulous street &, if you’re a guitarist, heaven! Walk back to the church & turn right down the narrow alley past its entrance

At the end turn right & then left to follow the community garden wall on the left. This is Phoenix Garden which is an award winning area. The Garden was set up on a carpark in the 1980s, which had itself been established on a World War II bombsite. Prior to this the Garden was the site of many houses, including a pub

The Phoenix Garden has survived various challenges, including a major industrial fly-tipping incident soon after its foundation. It is the only one of the original seven Covent Garden Community Gardens to survive to this day. It continues to be run by a committee of volunteers comprising local residents & workers

When we visited the Garden was undergoing major development

30. Turn left down New Compton Street & then immediately right down St Giles Passage. This is another amazing area…

Cross Shaftesbury Avenue into narrow Mercer Street, passing more health shops & ‘remedy’ studios to arrive at the convergency of seven roads known as Seven Dials

31. At the centre of the roughly circular space where seven streets converge is a column bearing six sundials, a result of the column being commissioned before a late stage alteration of the plans from an original six roads to seven

This layout was chosen to produce triangular plots, in order to maximise the frontage of houses to be built on the site, as rentals were charged per foot of frontage rather than by the square footage

After the successful development of the Covent Garden Piazza area nearby, Neale hoped that Seven Dials would be popular with well off residents. This was not to be & the area gradually deteriorated. At one stage, each of the seven apexes facing the column housed a pub. By the 19th century, Seven Dials was among the most notorious slums in London, as part of the rookery of St Giles. The area was described by Charles Dickens in his collection Sketches by Boz, which remarks,

“The stranger who finds himself in the Dials for the first time…at the entrance of Seven obscure passages, uncertain which to take, will see enough around him to keep his curiosity awake for no inconsiderable time…”

The original column was removed in 1773 & legend states it was taken by a gang who believed that gold was buried beneath it – it ended up in Weybridge

32. Continue straight ahead down Mercer Street. Our friends have recommended visiting the building with the red sign in the picture below. This is London Graphic Centre which has a fantastic range of art materials

…to the junction with Long Acre. Turn right, cross the road & then left down the narrow Rose Street

This leads into Floral Street – it seems that this part of London is maze of alleys that hark back to a previous lifetime

33. Look for a narrow alleyway on the right down Lazenby Court with a sign to the ‘Lamb & Flag’

 Be careful as this alleyway has history! It was here in 1679 that Poet Laureate, John Dryden was beaten by thugs hired by the Earl of Rochester after he was mistakenly thought to have written a damming piece about the aristocracy

34. At over 300 years old the Lamb & Flag is the oldest pub in the area & was once known as the ‘Bucket of Blood’ due to amount of bare knuckle fights that took place. Today it’s a peaceful place for a pint…

Walk down to Garrick Street where, to the right’s the famous gentlemen’s Garrick Club which was founded in 1831. It’s one of the oldest, most highly esteemed, & most exclusive members’ clubs in the world

In 1956 the rights to member AA Milne‘s Pooh books were left to four beneficiaries…his family, the Royal Literary Fund, Westminster School & the Garrick Club.  In 1998 Disney paid the club $40 million for the right to continue using Milne’s characters in its films, thus making the Garrick one of the richest clubs in London

As of 2017, the club has around 1,400 members (with a seven year waiting list) including many of the most distinguished actors & men of letters in the UK. New candidates must be proposed by an existing member before election in a secret ballot, the original assurance of the committee being “that it would be better that ten unobjectionable men should be excluded than one terrible bore should be admitted”

35. Walk away from the club & turn right down Bedford Street…

At the bottom on the left’s the office of ‘The Lady’ which is the oldest woman’s weekly publication. It first began in 1885 & is particularly noted for its classified advertisements for domestic service & child care

Rachel Johnson , sister of Boris was once editor & tried to make updating changes but tradition won the day

36. Turn left up Maiden Lane. On the right’s another of our favourite ‘watering holes’ The Porterhouse – try & avoid early evening on weekdays as it’s extremely busy

It’s a really unique pub with lots of copper piping & excellent Irish ales

On the opposite side of the road’s another institution & the oldest restaurant in London…Rules. Rules was opened by Thomas Rule in 1798, primarily as an oyster bar but served, & continues to serve, traditional British cuisine. It specialises in game & has its own estate, the Lartington Estate, in Teesdale

The restaurant stayed in the Rule family until World War I, when Charles Rule swapped businesses with Thomas Bell. Bell’s daughter subsequently sold the restaurant to the current owner John Mayhew in 1984

Efforts have been made to carefully preserve the original features in the main restaurant & in the cocktail bar. The walls are decorated with a series of sketches, oil paintings & cartoons which have been collected throughout its history. A number of its artworks depict theatrical history. The restaurant has featured in novels by Graham Greene, Dick Francis, Dorothy L. Sayers & Evelyn Waugh. John Betjeman complained to the Greater London Council in 1971 when the restaurant was under threat from demolition

It was also where Edward VII often entertained his mistress Lily Langtry, the couple entering by a special door leading to a discreet ‘table for two’ dining room

Rules made an appearance in the James Bond film Spectre & several appearances in the historical period drama Downton Abbey

We can highly recommend the Steak & Kidney Pudding!!

37. Opposite Rules is another place our friends have recommended visiting…Corpus Christi Catholic Church which is in the final stages of a renovation programme. Father Alan Robinson has been based here for the past 5 years overseeing the project, having done another one in Notting Hill. What a small world as he originally hailed from Earls Barton

Cardinal Vincent Nichols will visit on 3rd June to officially re-open the church. There are 600 stars which have all been hand gilded with gold leaf as have the walls on either side. They have had sconces made to resemble angels which will have lights suspended from them. It’s worth a look for the extent of hand gilding!!

Check out the link below for more information

http://catholicherald.co.uk/ news/2017/02/22/londons- actors-church-unveils-new- high-altar/

38. Turn left into Southampton Street to arrive back at Covent Garden Piazza & the start of this walk…

So that’s the end of another walk around an area that we thought we knew quite well, but contained many surprises & little places we’d never visited before

Covent Garden covers much more than just the piazza area & with any walk we do always look inside places where you sometimes think you shouldn’t go. It’s always amazing what you can find

Go Walk!