Type: Description
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Covent Garden is a district found in West London. It is located on the eastern peripheries of the West End, between Drury Lane and St. Martin’s Lane. The district is associated with the former vegetable and fruit market located at the central square. However, it is now associated also with popular tourist attraction places, such as Piazza and Covent Garden Market, among others. The area of Covent Garden stretching down to the Strand was a trading settlement recognized from the contemporary charter as Lundenwic during the mid-Saxon times. The exact size of the Saxon settlement is thought to be approximately 60 hectares. However, this figure is obtained from archaeological excavations and artifacts collected during the research and development. The trading port in the district was developed along the river Thames, and it stretched from the Strand to the North. In the late Saxon period, the settlement shifted back to the walled Roman city, thus leaving the Lundenwic a deserted waste that was later used as a farmland. This was as a result of constant threats of Viking raids.

The Covent Garden derives its name from the presence of the garden owned by Westminster Abbey in the Middle Age. In the 16th century, the land was acquired by King Henry VIII before being granted to John Russell, the first Earl of Bedford. The Bedford’s utmost concern was to decide on the development of the land, which was in the possession of the family until 1918. The Bedford House and its garden have been occupying the southern side of the site; the other part of the land was used for grassland until late 1627 after the succession of the 4th Earl of Bedford. The framework for the Piazza was built during that era, and it represents the modern appearance of the site. The Piazza square is one of the most respected public places in the Covent Garden district.

Types of Public and Private Places

In the Covent Garden district, there are different types of public and private places. The public place includes the Covent Garden square, also known as Piazza, and the Covent Garden market. Private places include pubs and bars, which are owned by individual entrepreneurs in the district.

The main public place in Covent Garden is usually referred to as Covent Garden, but it is often called Covent Garden Piazza in order to differentiate it from eponymous environment. The square was laid out in the late 1630s, and it was the first modern square to be constructed in London. The area was originally an open space with low railing. Its modern layout borrows a lot from the knowledge of Inigo Jones, who was responsible for designing the piazzas of Italy, and in particular the square of leghorn and place des Voges in Paris. The square is often regarded to as the first notable contributor of English urbanism. Some street names in the square were retained in honor of Queen Henrietta Maria, Charles I and others. This public place is popular with street performers and actors, who usually act out their performances. The Piazza is the heart of the Covent Garden. This is because it attracts tourists, shoppers, performers, passers-by, and friends who flock to the famous square.

The Covent Garden Market is another important public place in the Covent Garden district. Its first records as a market are traced back to 1654, when traders used to set up stalls on the garden walls of Bedford house. In 1670, the Earl of Bedford obtained a charter for vegetable and fruit market hence permitting himself to hold a market every day, except on holidays. The initial market was made up of sheds and wooden stalls, and it was extremely disorganized. However, in 1813, the 6th Earl of Bedford obtained a statute aimed at regulating the activities in the market. By 1830, neoclassical market structures in the market were erected. As a result of the traffic congestion increase, a renovation was scheduled. However, the demonstration held by Covent Garden Community in 1973 pressed the home secretary to allocate the surrounding buildings to the Covent Garden market. This prevented the renovation process.

The Covent Garden Market has recently been redesigned, and it is a unique place not only for the Covent Garden District, but also for the whole world. The modern Covent Garden market is supported by balustrade gallery. In addition, it is furnished with both exotic and native flower gardens, as well as with the fountain. From 1823 to 1830, the old stalls in the market were replaced with classical structures that provided enough space to accommodate wholesaling activities. The Covent Garden Market acts as the principal attraction object, especially in summer. People visiting the large vegetable market are satisfied with the abundance of products it offers and with the excellence of supply. The market serves as a significant public place not only for the residents of the district, but also for foreign tourists.

The private places in the Covent Garden district include pubs and bars, which are owned by individual entrepreneurs. The district has more than 60 bars and pubs, with most of them being listed in the national inventory. For instance, Harp in Chandos is considered a popular place in the area. In addition, it has received a number of awards, including the famous London Pub of the Year award. The pub became famous in the early 19th century for organizing the bare-knuckle award.

Economic, Political, Cultural, and Social Forces That Exerted the Greatest Influence on the Development of Convent Garden

Cultural and Social Forces

The Covent Garden culture may be divided into private and public areas. Theatres form a group of public places, while pubs and clubs form the private sector. Among other public places are the cultural establishments and museums. Theatres are governmentally established public institutions, while pubs and clubs are private businesses run by individual entrepreneurs. The district has been for a long period connected to a rich cultural background. This was one of the greatest forces that influenced the development of the district. Covent Garden had many shopping and entertainment centers. It has thirteen theatres and over sixty bars and pubs. One of the cultural aspects that have contributed to the expansion of Covent Garden is street performance.

As early as 1962, street performances had started being popular. Street performances in Covent Garden are a licensed activity, and people are allowed to perform at designated places. Some of these places include the West Piazza, North Hall, and South Hall Courtyard. Today, the culture of street performance is being preserved by having street auditions performances. This has ensured the sustainability of this distinct cultural practice of the district. People who have the ability to perform are brought together and taught how to use their talents to make money and entertain the public. Street performance has thus remained a key force behind the successful development of Covent Garden. Covent Garden has several theaters where people meet for entertainment. Some of these theatres are the Adelphi theatre, Aldwych theatre, Donmar Warehouse, and Courtauld Institute. People are constantly meeting at these places, thus ensuring a continued feeling of togetherness in this district.

Economic Forces

The Covent Garden market is a public place that was influential in the economic development of the district. This market place was reopened in 1979. Another public place that has stood to be a considerable strength in the growth of this district is the Piazza. In 2010, it was the largest apple store. This center has cafes, shops, apple market, stalls, and bars. Items that are mostly traded at this market include clothing, antiques, and jewelry. These markets can be said to have brought a substantial economic impact on the development of Covent Garden.

Political Forces

London has had a turbulent history, and with the rise and fall of new leaders and the reigning class, they influenced explicit areas of the developing metropolitan area. Rulers formed the greatest political force behind the development of many districts in London. One of such places affected by the politics of these rulers was Covent Garden. In 1540, Henry VII took over the land that belonged to Westminster. Covent Garden was one of the areas included in this takeover. Each of the new rulers who took over the district contributed positively to its development. Covent Garden was initially under the rule of Westminster Abbey. It was in the parish of St. Margaret. After the reorganization, the earls of Bedford acquired this property, which was located just to the North of their London house alongside the strand. In the 1950s, they turned it into an orchard. In a few years, the population of the district increased, tenements and unlawful houses began to develop along the Covent Garden fringes. By the year 1630, almost five hundred structures had been built in the arc prolonging up to the Eastern side of St. Martin’s lane. In the same year, Bedford obtained a license to improve and develop the remaining twenty acres. After Earl had developed this region, he leased plots to private developers who had to follow strict construction regulations. Through such efforts of the rulers, Covent Garden stood as a distinct district in the entire London. The serene environment provided by these rulers led to Convent Garden attracting investments, which have continually sustained this district financially.

The development of the Covent Garden district was guided by various plans. For example, in 1700, this district started attracting prostitutes. This was a result of an unplanned building development. Also, in the 1960s, the district experienced a case of rising congestion. This demanded a redevelopment plan. Local communities protested, and the buildings in the Covent Garden square were assigned a building status. This protected the historical value of the buildings.

Convent Garden is not gendered; women and men have almost the same share here. Racial and class division are organized in the way that rich dwellers in the district have an access to better medical care and better housing conditions. The issues of racism are not prevalent in this district, but there is a social class division, which evolved as a result of rampant development activities going on in Covent Garden. A neighborhood of exclusively wealthy residents came into existence. Tradesmen who were supposed to be housed at the district lost their homesteads to the benefit of rich people. The district was built a manner in which the yards behind the houses were left open. This was aimed at ensuring that no poor tenements occupied these areas. This can be considered to be a class division. Courtiers, peers, and tradesmen who serviced the rich took low-quality houses. There is also some fear concerning the use of public and private places in Covent Garden connected with the rising risk of terrorist attacks.

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