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  • martha_ray_nathaniel_dance

    Murder on the Piazza

    by Terry St. Clair 2012

    On 7 April 1779 shortly after 11.30pm, Martha Ray was shot dead as she was getting into her carriage outside the Covent Garden Theatre at the north east corner of Covent Garden Piazza. That evening, Shakespeare’s Macbeth was on at the nearby Drury Lane Theatre, but because of her love of music she preferred to see Margaret Kennedy in the...

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  • market-pygmalion

    Pygmalion Century

    By Ronan Thomas. Photograph courtesy of Westminster City Archives
    2012 marks the centenary of the world’s most famous play about class, manners and social consciousness.
    In 1912 Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw completed his new five-...

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  • ben_caunt

    Who’s Big Ben?

    Strictly speaking, Big Ben is the name of the bell inside the iconic tower in the Houses of Parliament (not the tower itself). But who was this Ben?

    Some people think it was Benjamin Hall who repaired a crack in the bell in the 1860s. Although it is a nice story, it can’t be right: The Times had been referring to Big Ben since 1856. So it must have been named after somebody else....

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  • dalma_flanders

    Dalma Flanders: Life in the WAAF

    Local resident Dalma Flanders is a skilled liguist and has always led an active life including four years of service during WWII as a radio translator assisting with code-breaking. During this time she was posted to the Lancashire coast, the white cliffs of Dover and later to Belgium. Here is her brief memoir of her time in the forces

    WAAF '...

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  • hicks1

    A shocking bit of parking

    Covent Garden has had its share of eccentrics, crackpots and rogues but one who will capture the imagination of anyone who has ever driven to London is Peter Hicks, a Sussex farmer who supplied vegetables to the market during the 1960s. Traffic wardens were introduced to London in 1958 and the revenue stream to councils has been a money-spinner ever since. Peter Hicks didn’t much enjoy having...

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  • frostfair

    Ice, Ice Maybe

    If you fancy a festive flutter, you could dream of a white Christmas, but that never happens; however, a certain high street bookie is offering odds of 100-1 against the Thames freezing over. Unlikely as this might seem, it has happened before on Christmas Day, and more than just the once. 1269 is the first recorded freeze-out and it reoccurred at least 31 times in the years since.


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  • amigoni_farinelli

    Voice of a eunuch

    Opera can be a funny old business and as recently as 300 years ago the tradition of castrati was still flourishing on the stage in Covent Garden. Desperate Italian families would sell their infant sons to musical impresarios who would test the boys’ musical aptitudes, if none were outstanding, the boys would be gelded and trained as castrati in the opera houses of Europe. The vocal range of a...

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  • friary_ale

    Drowning in Beer

    Sounds like fun doesn’t it? But in reality The London Beer Flood which happened on Monday 17 October 1814 was a tragedy claiming more human lives than the famous Great Fire of 1666. It was an autumn evening in St Giles, much like any other but a thundering clang just after 17.00 was the menacing portent for a hoppy torrent which devastated Covent Garden.

    Meux’s Brewery stood above...

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  • thomas_parr

    Old Parr

    Thomas Parr is a bland name for the extraordinary person who was brought to King Charles I’s court in 1635: shabby, blind and enfeebled, he was pronounced to be 152 years old.
    Not since Old Testament fogeys like Methuselah (969), Jared (962) and Enosh (905) had anybody lived to such a venerable age nor indeed has anyone since; the Guinness Book of Records says the oldest ever person was...

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  • menagerie

    London’s First Public Zoo

    In 1676 an emporium was opened where Burleigh Street leaves the Strand. Known as Exeter Exchange, it was intended to be a shopping precinct of unrivalled quality. Unfortunately for the developers, most units remained vacant and were ultimately given over to professional services including an undertaker’s parlour; the playwright John Gay’s tepid corpse was displayed here in 1732 for Londoners...

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Getting there

Travelling to and from an event is an important part of the overall experience. Covent Garden, the heart of the UK's the most exciting place, is opened to all routes wherever you are, whatever you want.




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