Covent Garden Walk (Self Guided), London

During this self guided walking tour around Covent Garden areas you will have a chance to visit such famous and interesting London attractions, as National Gallery, London Coliseum, London Transport Museum and many others. Don't miss your chance to explore the best of the Holborn and Covent Garden areas.
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Covent Garden Walk Map

Guide Name: Covent Garden Walk
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 km
Author: clare
1
Covent Garden Market

1) Covent Garden Market (must see)

Covent Garden is well-known for its shops, street performers, bars, restaurants, theatres and the Royal Opera House. The centrepiece of Covent Garden is the famous market, designed by Inigo Jones as far back as 1632. 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 and vegetable market, permitting him and his heirs to hold a market every day except Sundays and Christmas Day.

The original market, consisting of wooden stalls and sheds, became disorganised and disorderly, and the 6th Earl requested an Act of Parliament in 1813 to regulate it, then commissioned Charles Fowler in 1830 to design the neo-classical market building that is the heart of Covent Garden today.

The site attracts annually up to 30 million visitors. Underneath the glass cover there are several arcades of fashionable boutiques, cafés, food and arts and crafts stalls, as well as the Apple and the Jubilee Hall markets. Fresh food products are brought here directly from farmers each Thursday and Saturday.

Why You Should Visit:
Always plenty of energy, places to see, bars and eateries to satisfy just about any visitor's needs. Easy to get to and a fun meeting place for tourists.

Tip:
Neat place to visit around 4pm, when sun is perfect to sit and stroll.

Operation Hours:
Daily: 10am-8pm
2
London Transport Museum

2) London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum, based in Covent Garden, London, seeks to conserve and explain the transport heritage of Britain's capital city. The majority of the museum's exhibits originated in the collection of London Transport. The museum operates from two sites within London. The main site in Covent Garden is open to the public every day.

The museum has on display many examples of buses, trams, trolleybuses and rail vehicles from 19th and 20th centuries as well as artefacts and exhibits related to the operation and marketing of passenger services and the impact that the developing transport network has had on the city and its population. The first underground electric train, from 1890, can be seen here

The entrance to the museum is from the Covent Garden Piazza, amongst the Piazza's many tourist attractions. Museum operates from Monday to Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm (last admission 5:15 pm), Friday: 11 am – 6 pm (last admission 5:15 pm). Please note that children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Courtauld Gallery

3) Courtauld Gallery (must see)

The Courtauld Gallery was founded in 1932 by Samuel Courtauld, the British industrialist and art collector. You will find it in the Strand Block of Somerset House; this well-loved gallery is certainly worth a long visit.

The gallery houses a stunning exhibition of Impressionist and Post Impressionist art from the 14th century to the present day. You can admire works by Monet, Van Gogh and Cézanne, amongst other excellent artists. Apart from paintings the gallery also displays drawings, Decorative Art, prints and sculptures.

The gallery’s collection of 14th and early 15th century Italian paintings is one of the most important in Britain. You will also find northern European art, including the Lamentation Triptych by the Master of Flemalle.

There are over 6000 drawings and watercolours and over 20,000 prints, dating back to the late Middle Ages, with fine examples of works by Leonardo de Vinci and Michelangelo. These exhibitions are rotating because the documents are fragile and you will find a selection of them in Room 12, or by appointment in the Drawing and Prints Study Room.

The collection of Decorative Art has some of the finest objects in the world, with artefacts from Europe and the Middle East. In the rooms devoted to these arts, you will find Italian Renaissance wedding chests, tin-glazed earthenware, Iznik and Spanish lusterware ceramics and beautiful Islamic metalwork by Mahmud the Kurd.

In the Gallery shop you can buy books about the gallery and its collection, with a series of very good books for children and also art-related gift items. There is also the Gallery café set in the basement or outdoors on the terrace if the weather is fine. The café serves light meals and drinks.

You are allowed to take photos in the gallery, but without a flash. Every day you can join the Lunchtime Gallery Talks, which are very interesting and educative lectures about the History of Art, painters and painting techniques.

Editor's Note:
The Courtauld Gallery and Courtauld Shop are now closed through at least 2020 while they undertake a major transformation project called Courtauld Connects.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Somerset House

4) Somerset House

Somerset House is a grand edifice with 55 active fountains situated on the south side of the Strand in the heart of London. The central, Neoclassical portion of the building, designed by architect Sir William Chambers, was completed in 1776–96. Later, two classical Victorian wings were added to the north and south. The current building stands on the site of its namesake predecessor which was built two hundred years earlier.

Somerset House is an example of great London architecture in Victorian and neoclassical style. It was captured in one of Harry Potter blockbusters. There is a small tearoom inside that serves one of the most delicious chocolate brownies in London.
5
Roman Bath

5) Roman Bath

A stroll down the alley on Surrey Street will take you off the Strand to Strand Lane where the Roman Bath is. Contrary to its name, the bath and its surroundings are most definitely not Roman as there are no traces of Roman presence in the area. The bath was probably part of Arundel House, the imposing town-house which, along with several other palaces, had stood on the Strand from Tudor period until the 17th century, when they were torn down to clear space for new buildings. The bath has gained popularity after being featured in one of Harry Potter films.
6
Lincoln's Inn Fields

6) Lincoln's Inn Fields

Lincoln's Inn Fields is the largest public square in London. It was laid out in the 1630s under the initiative of the speculative builder and contractor William Newton, "the first in a long series of entrepreneurs who took a hand in developing London", as Sir Nikolaus Pevsner observes. In Charles Dickens' novel Bleak House, the sinister solicitor to the aristocracy Mr Tulkinghorn has his offices in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and one of its most dramatic scenes is set there. The description of his building corresponds most closely to Lindsey House.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Neal's Yard

7) Neal's Yard

Just off Covent Garden is the colorful Neal's Yard, a quirky and colorful place filled with lovely little cafes, coffee shops and restaurants. The place is well hidden in a small street, but once found, you will be welcomed with colorful and charming buildings with trees and shrubs growing in pots. In a sunny day it is a perfect retreat sitting outdoor and enjoy a drink.
8
Seven Dials

8) Seven Dials

Lying between Covent Garden and Soho is the small cobbled-street area known as Seven Dials. It’s a great place for shopping without having to pay high London prices, and is also a small slice of the history of the capital.

The area is made up of seven streets and yards, which were once a part of the St Giles Rookery – a slum area frequented by the poor, criminals and prostitutes. However, when Thomas Neale laid out the designs in 1690, and gave his name to a street and a yard, he had visions of turning the area into an upper-middle class part of the city.

His original drawings centred on the central part of the area, a square where six streets would converge, and here he set up a pillar bearing six sundials. Shortly before the completion of the work, a seventh street was added, but although the name Seven Dials caught on, a 7th sundial was never added to the pillar.

In 1773 the Town Council removed the column, supposedly for repairs, but in truth to try to disperse the “unsavoury elements” that used the central place as a meeting point. This didn’t noticeably reduce the crime rate, but it gave the locals something to talk about.

Eventually, as often happens, the “unsavoury elements” lost interest in the place and moved on to more prosperous areas, where the pickings were easier, and gradually the Seven Dials became a popular meeting place for students.

Pubs and shops were either renovated or opened around the pillar, which was replaced by a copy of the original in 1988. Today the area attracts millions of tourists every year, with Monmouth Street’s shops selling luxury goods, Earlham Street that sells fine vintage and street-style clothes; Short’s Garden where you will find Neale’s Yard Dairy, with its 50 varieties of cheeses, and Neale’s Yard itself with its Herbal Remedy shop and several great pubs, restaurants with music provided by street musicians.
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
The Lamb and Flag

9) The Lamb and Flag

Originally established back in 1623, the Lamb and Flag is the oldest public house in Covent Garden, and possible the oldest in London. The present building dates back to 18th century, with the major brickwork seen today added in the 1950s. It is a historic establishment with its run of famous patrons. Former guests to the Lamb and Flag include writers John Dryden, who has a room named in honor of him, and Charles Dickens who frequented the pub in the 19th century. For a period of time bare-knuckle boxing tournaments were held here, earning it the name the Bucket of Blood.

Its great assortment of pub fare is all made from fresh, local ingredients, and the Lamb and Flag also offers an extensive beer selection. It is said to have one of the best fish and chip meals in London.
10
London Coliseum

10) London Coliseum

Designed by Frank Matchum for Oswald Stoll, the famous impresario, the London Coliseum was intended to be, and still is the best and largest “People’s Palace” for entertainment. You will find it on St Martin’s Lane, and whether you decide to take in a show, or go on the guided tour, you shouldn’t miss visiting this magnificent opera house.

The vast auditorium with seats for over 2300 people was built on four floors: Stalls, Dress Circle, Grand Tier and Balcony. There is no Pit, which was unheard of in that time. In late Victorian times, the Pit was an area of Stalls set away from the main Stalls, where the lower classes were crowded together. Oswald Stoll wanted none of that – his theatre was intended to be a family theatre.

It opened in 1904 and quickly became the most popular variety theatre and music hall in the capital, partly because the seats weren’t very expensive. During World War II it was used as a canteen for the Air Raid Patrol and Winston Churchill gave a speech from the stage. After 1945 it was mainly used for American musicals. In 1961 it became a Cinerama Theatre.

In 1968 it reverted to its original use and is now the home of the English National Opera Company. It has the widest proscenium arch in London, being 55ft wide and 34ft high. There is a lift for the disabled and a lovely roof garden.

Here’s a small anecdote: At the beginning of the 20th century, the Theatre Managers Association didn’t allow dramas to be performed in music halls. Oswald Stoll fought against this and eventually the TMA relaxed its rules – a little. Dramas could be staged, but should be no longer than 30 minutes and have no more than 6 speaking characters. The first drama for music hall was written by W.S. Gilbert, the dramatist, best known for his Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas. It was a one-act play called “The Hooligan” and was performed at the Coliseum for the first time in 1911.
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Benjamin Franklin House

11) Benjamin Franklin House

Benjamin Franklin House is a museum in a terraced Georgian house at 36 Craven Street, London, close to Trafalgar Square. It is the only surviving former residence of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. The house dates from circa 1730, and Franklin lived and worked here for sixteen years. The museum opened to the public on 17 January 2006. 36 Craven Street retains a number of original features (including original floorboards, original ceilings, and original fireplaces) with relatively few later alterations.

Operation hours: Wednesday - Monday: 10:30 am - 5:30 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

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