Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

St. Paul, Covent Garden (London)

St. Paul, Covent Garden is a fascinating church in London.

It is situated in Covent Garden, but the entrance is in Bedford Street.

The Duke of Bedford, while developing his suburban estate on the convent garden that he had acquired, was told by Charles I that it should have a church.

The Duke thereupon commissioned Inigo Jones to design a church, but told him to keep the costs down by building it "not much better than a barn". Jones is said to have replied "You shall have the handsomest barn in Europe", and completed it in 1633.

The striking frontage on Covent Garden consists of a pediment above Tuscan columns and pilars. This portico features in the works of Hogarth, and was the scene of Professor Higgins` meeting with the flower seller Eliza Dolittle in "My Fair Lady".

St. Paul`s is known as "the actors` church", and contains plaques to a bewildering range of respected performers. These include Charlie Chaplin, Noel Coward, Robert Helpmann, Vivien Leigh, Marie Lloyd, Anna Neagle, Marie Rambert, Michael Redgrave, Flora Robson, Ellen Terry, Sybil Thorndike, Donald Wolfit and many more.

Samuel Pepys recorded in his Diary watching the first performance in England of Punch and Judy outside St. Paul`s.

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