Covent Garden - Opera din Londra

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Covent Garden - Opera din Londra is a district in central London straddling the easternmost parts of the City of Westminster and the southwest corner of the London Borough of Camden. The area is dominated by shopping and entertainment facilities and contains an entrance to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, which is also widely known simply as "Covent Garden," and the bustling Seven Dials area.Covent Garden - Opera din Londra

Covent Garden - Opera din Londra - The area is bounded by High Holborn, Kingsway, The Strand and Charing Cross Road. Covent Garden Piazza is located in the geographical centre of the area and was the site of a flower, fruit and vegetable market from the 1500s until 1974, when the wholesale market relocated to New Covent Garden Market in Nine Elms.

Covent Garden - Opera din Londra - A settlement has existed in the area since the Roman times of Londinium. "Convent Garden" (later corrupted to Covent Garden as we know it today) was the name given, during the reign of King John (1199 - 1256), to a 40 acre (160,000 m²) patch in the county of Middlesex, bordered west and east by what is now St. Martin's Lane and Drury Lane, and north and south by Floral Street and a line drawn from Chandos Place, along Maiden Lane and Exeter Street to the Aldwych.

In this quadrangle the Abbey or Convent of St. Peter, Westminster, maintained a large kitchen garden throughout the Middle Ages to provide its daily food. Over the next three centuries, the monks' old "convent garden" became a major source of fruit and vegetables in London and was managed by a succession of leaseholders by grant from the Abbot of Westminster.

This type of lease eventually led to property disputes throughout the kingdom, which King Henry VIII solved in 1540 by the stroke of a pen when he dissolved the monasteries and appropriated their land.
King Henry VIII granted part of the land to John Russell, Baron Russell, Lord High Admiral, and later Earl of Bedford. In fulfilment of his father's dying wish, King Edward VI bestowed the remainder of the convent garden in 1547 to his maternal uncle, Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset who began building Somerset House on the south side of The Strand the next year.

When Seymour was beheaded for treason in 1552, the land once again came into royal gift, and was awarded four months later to one of those who had contributed to Seymour's downfall. Forty acres (160,000 m²), known as "le Covent Garden" plus "the long acre", were granted by royal patent in perpetuity to the Earl of Bedford.

The modern-day Covent Garden has its roots in the early seventeenth century when land ("the Convent's Garden") was redeveloped by Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford. The area was designed by Inigo Jones, the first and greatest of English Renaissance architects. He was inspired by late 15th Century and early 16th century planned market towns known as bastides (themselves modelled on Roman colonial towns by way of nearby monasteries, of which "Convent" Garden was one).

The area rapidly became a base for market traders, and following the Great Fire of London of 1666 which destroyed 'rival' markets towards the east of the city, the market became the most important in the country. Exotic items from around the world were carried on boats up the River Thames and sold on from Covent Garden.

The first mention of a Punch and Judy show in Britain was recorded by diarist Samuel Pepys, who saw such a show in the square in May 1662. Today Covent Garden is the only part of London licensed for street entertainment. In 1830 a grand building reminiscent of the Roman baths such as those found in Bath was built to provide a more permanent trading centre.

By the end of the 1960s, traffic congestion in the surrounding area had reached such a level that the use of the square as a market, which required increasingly large lorries for deliveries and distribution, was becoming unsustainable. The whole area was threatened with complete redevelopment. Following a public outcry, in 1973 the Home Secretary, Robert Carr, gave dozens of buildings around the square listed building status, preventing redevelopment.

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