Once owned by Henry VIII and once home to the largest fruit and vegetable market in England, this area boasts a vibrant artisan history. It is home to the oldest established theatre, which had its origins in a patent granted on the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.
The famous piazza area was a collaboration of the Earl of Bedford, Charles I and Inigo Jones – the most important architect of the time. Having seen the many public squares in Italy, he brought the idea to London and surrounded it with a perfectly straight grid of streets. As Londoners were used to the haphazard arrangement of winding streets, alleyways and courtyards, the area was a watershed in English architecture.
The bustling, public square brought about great social changes to the surrounding areas. The wealthy who initially occupied the houses around it soon tired of their lack of privacy and moved away, leaving the area to become filled with artistic tenants who gave the area its colourful reputation. Its liveliness grew as did the number of its performers and stalls, with the large flower market opening in 1872. Today the area still retains its animated and dynamic atmosphere – brimming with theatre, performers, shops and entertainment, rich in London's creative culture.