Survey of London: Volume 36, Covent Garden. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1970.
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Few more poignant evocations of London's vanished past can be found than the views reproduced on Plates 32, 33. Two centuries ago the noonday sun shining into the arcades of Covent Garden Piazza threw into relief the large and lucid design of the facades framed by the high arches. Today a near-copy of part of the arcaded walk still stands, but the open coherence of design has been lost from the prospect on which it looks, the very shape of the Piazza has become imperceptible, and where the great quadrangle once presented its orderly and intelligible dignity the visitor now has difficulty in preserving his bearings of north, south, east and west. The neighbouring streets have not been transformed quite so profoundly; but no vestige of the original fabric remains there, and the change in the anatomy of roadways has been greater than is immediately apparent. Some details of the creation and transformation of St Paul's parish are set out in this volume. (fn. 1) Much of the essential history of Covent Garden's genesis seems, however, to be as wholly vanished as the simple authority of its architecture.
The creation of the ensemble of Piazza, church and subsidiary streets was in some of its features a notably straightforward enterprise, and in outline is well known. The estate was developed between 1631, when the church was begun and the first leases of housesites granted, and 1639, when almost all the houses were occupied. The landowner was Francis Russell, fourth Earl of Bedford (1593–1641), and the traits of thoughtful independence and measured practicality that seem discernible in his character are consistent with the successful completion of so new and considerable a project in so comparatively short a time.
The physical limits which he accepted for his enterprise were to a large extent already given by the estate developments carried out under his cousin and predecessor, Edward Russell, the third Earl (d. 1627). The property, originally the possession of the Abbey or Convent of St. Peter, Westminster, had come to the Russell family by grants from the Crown in 1541 and 1552. At the third Earl's succession in 1585 the estate, which at its extremities extended from the Strand to the present line of Long Acre and from Drury Lane to St. Martin's Lane, was still mostly unbuilt pasture-land. By 1619, when the third Earl made over possession of the estate to the future fourth Earl, the perimeter of the ground had been built up or parcelled out in garden plots and the annual income increased from less than £80 to £500. Bedford House had been built on the south side, for the Russells' own residence, Long Acre laid out alongside the northern boundary, and the central pasture progressively lessened in its extent. Between 1610 and 1613 the building of a brick wall had reduced it to some 20 acres, and it was within the line of this wall that the fourth Earl's layout took shape (fig. 1), with little hindrance from existing buildings and in conspicuous contrast to the surrounding suburbs by reason of its spacious and orderly disposition. Ogilby and Morgan's map (Plate 5) shows how the unembarrassed arrangement of broad streets and Piazza was separated from the four highways of the Strand, St. Martin's Lane, Long Acre and Drury Lane by the third Earl's slightly earlier and very different development. The effect is not wholly lost on the modern map.
The records that remain suffice to give a general idea of the methods employed by the fourth Earl: partly the direct employment of labour on the buildings of greatest moment— the church and a 'model' range in the Piazza—and partly the leasing of sites to many individuals who built upon them under the supervision of his agents. Enough is known of this to permit the tabulation on pages 294–311.
What is not known with any certainty is why Covent Garden was adorned with the supreme distinction of Inigo Jones's architecture. That Jones designed the church and houses on the west, north and east sides of the Piazza there is no reason to doubt. (fn. 2) No mention of or payment to him has been found, however, in the archives of the Bedford estate, where the only ostensible connexion of the Earl with the Surveyor of the King's Works is in the occurrence of two names associated with both men: Isaac de Caus and Edward Carter (see pages 28, 101). When Covent Garden was completed the Earl doubtless took pride in its beauty, and jotted down in his commonplace-book, as his own thought or another's, 'London the Ring Couengarden the iewell of that ring'. (fn. 14) But in an earlier book he had scribbled 'I am neither out of Loue with our Ansestors actions nor buildings', (fn. 15) which in its suggestion of indifference to architecture such as Jones's is consonant with the well-known anecdote of the 'handsomest barn'. (fn. 3)
The absence of Jones's name from the estate records suggests, then, that his involvement was not by reason of a commission from the Earl. Some slight degree of involvement may be explained by Jones's inclusion in the quorum of commissioners appointed in 1625 to supervise the rebuilding of existing houses, under the proclamation of that year which forbad building in London on new foundations. Early in 1630 the Privy Council called on the Earl and another owner of land in Long Acre to clean and improve that highway, which had been laid out and partly built up under the third Earl about 1615. The replicants claimed that its completion had been interrupted by the royal proclamations, and asked for licence to finish it. At what stage the Earl formulated his plans for a new estate, and whether his was the sole initiative is not known, but the licence he received in February 1630/1 empowered him not only to rebuild the houses already put up in Long Acre and Covent Garden but also to build as many new houses 'as … shalbe thought fitt'. For this licence the Earl paid £2,000. It made no reference to the supervision of the development by Jones or anyone else. Thus so far as these records go, Jones's authority was limited to his share, under the commission of 1625, in the oversight of rebuildings—much the least important aspect of the Earl's enterprise.
The supposition that Jones's close association with the design was due to Charles I's wish for the embellishment of his capital, and was perhaps a condition of the grant of the licence, is consistent with two indications of royal or governmental interest in the work. In 1632 the Privy Council gave safe conduct for the shipment of Portland stone needed for the church, together with other stone required for the King's service in Whitehall, and in 1636 a piece of gossip disparaging of Jones's performance at the church asserted that he had 'over-swayed the K[ing] to direct alone that building'.
Both these references are to the church. As the first new Anglican church to be built in London since the mid sixteenth century it is likely that it would have engaged Charles I's particular attention. But it is not specifically mentioned in the licence of 1631, and any supposition that it was from the beginning the most directly Court-inspired element in the complex is called in question by the evidence. When its building began in that year it had its entrance at the east end, to lead directly out of the intended Piazza, and thus offended the ecclesiastical authorities, who required this defiance of the traditional orientation of churches to be reversed. Furthermore, the Earl, who paid for the church out of his own pocket, would seem at one stage about 1632 to have been willing to sell the patronage to a Puritan group.
In the background to all this are the equivocal relations to the King of a great nobleman fit either to challenge or participate in the executive power: there is doubtless a submerged history that is not exposed in the documentary evidence and it would be rash to assume that the outline traced by the known records corresponds to the real shape of events.
It is uncertain whether any particular significance attaches to an important defect in the Earl's licence. The warrant for it had included explicit pardon of any 'contempts and offences' committed by him or his nominees against the royal proclamations forbidding new building in London. But when the licence itself was issued a month later this pardon was left out. In 1634, when the work in Covent Garden was in full progress, the Attorney General filed a Bill in Star Chamber against the Earl in respect of the buildings erected before he received the licence and contrary to the proclamations. The Earl had to pay another £2,000 as a fine: in return he received a fuller confirmatory licence. Perhaps the Earl thereby had a grievance: there seems to have been a tradition in the Russell family in the early nineteenth century of his chagrin at the episode, which (probably without foundation) was held to have caused him to abandon schemes for the south side of the Piazza. (fn. 4)
The Earl had a reputation for financial shrewdness, and if he noted down the maxim 'in sume cases the best thrift is to be prodigall' it was only in order to make the immediate comment, 'a rull often false alwayse unsertayn'. (fn. 14) How far the addition of £2,000 to his outlay disturbed close calculations of gain and loss is, however, now doubtful, and the profitability of his enterprise hard to assess. By the end of 1635 he is known to have spent a little over £13,000 on his two licences and the building of the church and model range in the Piazza: to this must, however, be added his costs in working out the whole scheme, making vaults under the Piazza arcades and providing water and drainage. The annual return from rents was about £805 in 1637. A comparison with the £630 or so yielded at that time by the slightly earlier peripheral building suggests that the contribution of the Earl's fine new streets to the estate economy was as much in their potentiality for capital appreciation as in their immediate return. In the streets subsidiary to the Piazza the Earl sometimes specified in his leases the minimum sums to be spent in building: only a small number are known, but for these the average figure seems to have been something of the order of £150 a house.
Despite its noble (indeed august) auspices the Earl's project was, like almost every subsequent London development down to our own day, dependent for its realization on a miscellany of speculators. For the area within the brick wall, tabulated on pages 294–311, the designation is known of fifty-one individuals who probably held building leases from the Earl. Of these, probably fifteen were themselves building tradesmen, another fifteen were of the trading class, and the remaining twenty-one (including a scrivener and a physician) were described as 'gentleman', 'esquire', or were titled. But the speculative character of the enterprise was greater than these figures alone might suggest, for of the 182 or so houses in this area whose first occupants are (probably) known, only 15 were first inhabited by the building lessee. Even in the Piazza most of the building was in the hands of lessees who disposed of the houses elsewhere.
Whether there were other building tradesmen working in Covent Garden besides those who were lessees is not known. Two of the lessees who were not themselves building tradesmen, Richard Harris and John Ward, gentleman and girdler respectively, certainly together had legal and business dealings with some of the lessees who were building tradesmen. (fn. 16) But no positive evidence is forthcoming of the existence of a consortium of building tradesmen among the Earl's lessees, and some branches of the building trade are not in fact represented among them. The non-building lessees may have found their workmen from a now unknown range of tradesmen. The workmen employed directly by the Earl on his own buildings are known (see Appendices II and III) but few occur also as lessees on the rest of the estate.
What the popular idea of the Earl's lessees was can be known vividly enough. The action of Richard Brome's comedy, The Weeding of the Covent Garden, begins in front of a row of the newly built houses, and the man responsible for them is at once set before us— Rooksbill, 'a great Builder in Covent Garden'. He is not himself a builder by trade although he is a tradesman, and a wealthy one. His row of balconied houses is of some extent—'I have pil'd up a Leash of thousand pounds in walls and windows there', and he is congratulated by a prospective tenant upon his investment in bricks and mortar rather than money-lending: 'better is your money thus let out on red and white, than upon black and white, I say.' He is in fact richer than he seems.
One feature of his houses that strikes the beholders is their uniformity. A country squire is enthusiastic: 'You cannot think how I am taken with that Rowe! How even and straight they are! And so are all indeed. The Surveyor (what e're he was) has manifested himselfe the Master of his great Art. How he has wedded strength to beauty; state to uniformity; commodiousnesse with perspicuity! All, all as't should be!' Whether there was in fact a sustained attempt at overall uniformity, and, if so, how far the multiplicity of lessees permitted it to succeed, is difficult to assess. The control of the lessee by the terms of his lease was certainly designed to secure some degree of uniformity, and as the leasing of properties proceeded the control was tightened by the inclusion of the requirement that the lessee should submit plans and elevations for approval before building, and not subsequently make any alterations. The fact that some houses built on the south side of King Street were required to be uniform with a row on the north side of Henrietta Street suggests (since the two ranges could not be taken in at a single view) that there was a ruling concept of overall uniformity. In Hollar's mid seventeenth-century bird's-eye view (Plate 1) the estate is certainly conspicuous for the general uniformity of its buildings, whether they are the large-scaled palazzo facades of the portico houses in the Piazza, or the gabled single-fronted houses lining the streets. It is known that the row in Henrietta Street already referred to was in fact gabled: the specifications in the Bedford leases stop short of exact stylistic direction, and such uniformity as existed outside the Piazza may not have been very Jonesian; possibly de Caus's was the prevailing influence. Hollar's view may well give a generally accurate impression of the Covent Garden 'style', and not merely (like his ground-level view of the Piazza, Plate 12a) a Flemish picturesque interpretation.
Covent Garden's degree of uniformity has been totally destroyed in the passage of time. The relative absence of radical overall rebuilding has meant, however, that the generous storey-heights of the street-houses (where the rooms were required to be 10 feet high) have continued to influence the scale, and this, together with the width of the streets, allows something of the original amplitude to survive.
In the Piazza the last surviving group of the portico houses on the north and east sides was demolished (when already greatly altered) in c. 1933. Something of the quality of these houses had been infused into Henry Clutton's Bedford Chambers of 1877–9, which still stands on the north side west of James Street. But the original calculated ensemble is now imperceptible. In the pristine state of the Piazza the main and longitudinal axis was arranged to extend east to west, with the vista from Russell Street closing on St. Paul's Church, the focal climax of the whole design, its noble Tuscan portico enhanced in scale by comparison with the flanking churchyard gateways and the modest pavilion-like houses terminating the west side. The north and east sides were lined with the tall and completely uniform fronts of the portico houses, their continuity broken only by the wide street entering centrally in each side. These lofty four-storeyed houses were planned with their two upper floors extending over the vaulted walks behind the rusticated arcades of the lower stage, and their fronts were finished above the pilastered upper face with a continuous eaves-cornice. Built between 1633 and 1637 they introduced a new monumentality and long-lasting influence into English urban architecture.
The great and very striking architectural scale of the portico houses is no longer effectively apparent. Bedford Chambers, it is true, is even bigger in scale than the original, but in the present context of the Piazza is not suggestive of a range of private houses, whereas it was in its application to private houses that the original palazzo-scale of the Piazza was remarkable. Sorbière commented on the height of the arcade compared with that of the Place Royale in Paris, (fn. 17) but it was in its breadth of treatment also that the Piazza was noteworthy, and in this respect was unrivalled by the later, domestically scaled squares of London: in St. James's Square and Bedford Square, for example, the lateral sequence of windows was spaced at 10-foot intervals whereas in the Piazza the bays were of 15-foot width.
Almost as difficult to apprehend as the portico houses' nobility of scale is the secludedness of the whole layout. Covent Garden still seems, considering its position, a little outof-the-way, but this is partly because of the present functional uses of the area. Originally, physical access was quite limited: Hart (now Floral) Street was a cul-de-sac at its west end, Maiden Lane at its east end and Brydges Street at its south end. Garrick Street, the east end of Tavistock Street, Burleigh Street and Southampton Street did not exist. On the south side particularly, where the Piazza was bounded by Bedford House and its garden, the lack of easy communication with the Strand before the 1670's was notable. (fn. 5) The fourth Earl probably wanted to secure a better southward continuation of Bedford Street than was in fact provided by Half Moon Passage, and was to some degree involved in the important opening of a communication through New Row (a more significant thoroughfare than is now apparent) and the more tortuous contrivance of Rose Street. But he could no doubt have opened up this secludedness more if he had wished to, and the continued existence of the enveloping margin of lower-grade and congested development was partly due to his sale of some parts of it in fee farm. In this his policy was perhaps influenced by fear of government intervention against recent building of this type. The sales were continued by the fifth Earl and control of most of this surrounding area lost to the Bedford estate. (fn. 6)
The fourth Earl's lessees paid rent for their sites without the concession of a peppercorn term that later became customary in London. In the lack of exact knowledge of the chronology of contract, building work and completion of the lease it is impossible to know whether this had a practical effect, tending to haste both in the building and the rentingout of houses. By the standard of later estate developments the houses did not stay inordinately long untenanted in the lessees' hands, and to that extent the speculation may probably be counted a success for most of them.
In respect of the quality of construction the Earl's leases were careful and specific, but the competence of a carpenter-lessee like Richard Vesey was probably much greater than that of others such as Giles Whiting (who was fined for bad work by the Carpenters' Company), (fn. 19) and the quality of performance evidently varied considerably. Houses in King Street that were said (perhaps exaggeratedly) to be 'very ruinous' were rebuilt as early as 1672 and 1674: a house in Maiden Lane collapsed in 1678, (fn. 20) and two houses in Henrietta Street in 1730. In the late 1660's John Evelyn was already noting that houses in the subsidiary streets 'in Covent Garden and other places' needed to be rebuilt after twenty or thirty years. (fn. 21) The original leases in Covent Garden were generally for only some thirty or forty years, and were falling in during the 1660's and 1670's. The fifth Earl did not, however, feel the need for any general policy of rebuilding at that time. Most of his leases were to sitting tenants for comparatively short terms, and what new building there was took place on unbuilt or partly unbuilt sites under leasehold tenures not much longer than in the fourth Earl's leases. The replacement of the original fabric went on piecemeal and is difficult to attribute to any significant date. But the second Duke's adoption of a longer term and a period of 'peppercorn' tenure when he laid out the site of Bedford House in streets in c. 1710 may be interpreted as a constructive criticism of his great-grandfather's policy, and was potentially an inducement to sounder construction.
There are signs that the buildings that were presumably under Inigo Jones's most direct supervision were not without faults of construction. The church roof gave constant trouble and the houses in the Piazza (the last part of the layout to be built) varied in their soundness. The portico house on the south corner of Russell Street collapsed in 1670, the house on the south corner of King Street was rebuilt in 1689, and the portico house on the east corner of James Street largely so in 1698. In 1734 Batty Langley commented on 'the badness of workmanship' perceptible in the windows. (fn. 22) On the other hand the fabric of some of the portico houses was strong enough to last vestigially into the 1880's or (in one instance) the 1930's.
These portico houses were very fit for the 'Gentlemen and men of abillity' envisaged as occupants of Covent Garden in the fourth Earl's petition for his licence. In the Piazza the Earl could get as much as £150 per annum for a house, and some notable residents were attracted to Covent Garden. The most eminent was Viscount Wentworth, Lord Deputy in Ireland, who lived somewhere in Henrietta Street on his return to England in 1636 and again in 1639–40. (fn. 23) The Privy Council interested itself sufficiently in the character of the new suburb to make a sustained attempt to restrict the number of taverns to two (fn. 24) (although this kill-joy attitude was unpopular even among the aristocratic inhabitants of the Piazza). (fn. 25) But the first dwellers in Covent Garden were very mixed, and their unsatisfactory character and the irrepressible tavern-life of the area about 1632–3 serves the plot of Brome's comedy. 'What new Plantation', asks one of his characters, 'was ever peopled with the better sort at first; nay, commonly the lewdest blades, and naughty-packs are either necessitated to 'hem, or else do prove the most forward venturers.' When the play was revived about 1642 the prologue could point a contrast with Covent Garden as it had been at first, 'Not set, as now it is, with Noble Seeds, Which make the Garden glorious'. At that time, however, the noblemen who were ratepayers numbered only four (or at most six) and the 'commoner' members of Parliament perhaps another six. (fn. 26)
One or two of the Queen's Roman Catholic friends or servants occur in the first years, although if William Prynne, writing in the 1640's, is to be believed they were more deeply involved in the development than appears on the surface. There are a few French names in the ratebooks, and for a time in 1633–4 a Frenchman kept the Paris tavern at No. 14 Henrietta Street. (fn. 27) (fn. 7)
The coming of civil war did not affect the course of estate development, which was by then completed. Many references are found, however, to the difficulties of tenants in getting or paying their rents during 'these sadd and distracted times of Common calamitye', (fn. 29) and something of the effect of the war is apparent in the ratebooks for the Piazza, where a number of the houses were vacant about 1644. Apart from Sir Edmund Verney few of the first ratepaying residents became actively prominent in the Royalist cause. In Henrietta Street it is known that the Long Parliament put two of its members into the sequestrated house of a 'delinquent' in c. 1642 (fn. 30) and it was probably in part from the same cause that in the 1640's many prominent Parliamentarians appear as ratepayers in Covent Garden. In 1647 nine are found in the Piazza, including Denzil Holles and Sir Henry Vane, six in King Street, including the regicides Sir Gregory Norton and Humphrey Edwards, and another regicide, Lord Monson, in Henrietta Street. Yet another regicide, Adrian Scrope, was perhaps living in Chandos Street. Many residents of a different persuasion figure among the delinquents. (fn. 31) By the later 1650's the names of some noblemen who had been active in the King's cause appear in the Covent Garden ratebooks, (fn. 8) and in retrospect at least the area enjoyed a reputation for royalist sympathies during the Interregnum (fn. 32) to match the crypto-Romanism imputed to it by Prynne in the 1640's.
At the Restoration some continuity with the time before the Civil War was maintained by the presence in the Piazza of five ratepayers of the same families as the first occupants twenty years earlier, (fn. 9) but this was unrepresentative of the estate as a whole, where the average length of residence of the first occupants had been some seven or eight years and continuity in the possession of one family was unusual. Even in the Piazza none of the houses (except perhaps for No. 12, where the Pyes lived from 1637 to 1693) established itself as a family's town residence for any considerable length of time. The convulsion of state and society meant in fact that Covent Garden was deprived of the settled conditions in which it could acquire an aristocratic continuity like that of the later estates in St. James's and Mayfair.
In 1641 the fourth Earl had died, and by a family settlement most of the estate passed to his son William, the fifth Earl and later first Duke of Bedford. Some parts, however, went to William's younger brothers (see fig. 1), and these subsequently became dispersed among a number of owners. The different effects of possession by a large and continuing estate capable of long-term planning and substantial expenditure on the one hand, and by smaller individual freeholders on the other, can still be detected within the boundaries of the parish described in this volume, perhaps most clearly in the properties on either side of the northern half of Wellington Street.
The boundaries of the parish were established in 1646 by a Parliamentary ordinance and confirmed in 1660 by an Act of Parliament. A select vestry was constituted by a Bishop's faculty in 1662 and ruled the parish until 1827. By the time its surviving minutes begin in 1681 it was, and remained, a vestry of tradesmen: thereafter hardly any of the notable inhabitants of Covent Garden attended, nor did the Dukes of Bedford. When the vestry wished to thank the fourth Duke for a benefaction in 1747 a deputation proceeded to Bedford House in Bloomsbury in four coaches, was politely received by the Duke, 'regaled with Wine and Chocolate', and returned to the vestry-room. This ceremonial approach was not unconnected with dissatisfaction in the parish at the chaotic state of the market and was followed by a long, courteous and forceful memorial asking the Duke to exercise more control over his market lessee. This time the Duke was not able to receive a deputation—but took effective action to meet the complaint. (fn. 33)
For the general fabric of the parish the character of the vestry was of very limited significance, but the vestry was responsible for the upkeep of Jones's church. This had had a disturbing history of alterations in its first few years (indeed, before it was completed), and such subsequent changes as the eighteenth-century vestry made were conditioned by these previous alterations, the structural decay of the fabric, and the mischance of fire. The needful work does not seem to have been stinted for want of willingness to pay for it, and in this respect the record of the Covent Garden shopkeepers was not a discreditable one. Down to 1875 their taste or judgment is more significant in the history of the church than that of the Dukes of Bedford.
Shopkeepers had been present in Covent Garden from the first, and perhaps became more numerous after the Fire of London. Substantial retail shops in the hands of partners appear in the ratebooks in the 1670's, and subsequently Bedford Street, King Street and Henrietta Street in particular became a centre for well-known mercers, linendrapers and lacemen. The process was sufficiently advanced in 1684 to cause complaint in the City. (fn. 34) Shops and stalls had appeared even in the portico walk of the Piazza at a very early date. Less obstructively, but more ominously, they soon appeared also on the southernmost bounds of the Piazza, in front of the wall of Bedford House garden.
In 1670 this gathering of hucksters was regularized by the grant to the fifth Earl of a licence to keep a market for fruit, flowers and vegetables on weekdays within the limits of the Piazza. Two or three years later the broaching of Covent Garden's relative seclusion began with the making of Catherine Street, not on the Bedford estate, but affording it better access to the Strand. For a generation or more the market continued on the south side of the Piazza, and perhaps did no very great harm to the prospect or, in the context of contemporary taste, to the prestige of Covent Garden and the status of its residents. Then in 1700 the second Duke gave up Bedford House as a residence, it was pulled down, and the site laid into streets. At about the same time Lord Robert Russell's tenure of a house in the Piazza came to an end. The withdrawal of the Russells from their Covent Garden property was an important factor in its transformation.
The houses built on the site of Bedford House in 1706–14 (see fig. 32) were of a good class, and in at least one respect the Duke followed his great-grandfather's example in the Piazza, by building a range of houses in Southampton Street at his own expense. Southampton Street was gated against the passage of market carts. But the new streets had one effect of great significance for the subordination of Covent Garden to its market, in that the building of Tavistock Row on the south side of the Piazza caused the removal of the market into the central railed enclosure. The views across the Piazza were thus impaired and the piecemeal destruction of its Caroline harmony made likelier. Some violence had already been done to it by the rebuilding of the northern house flanking the church in 1689, and a greater violence followed in 1716–17 when Lord Orford's house (No. 43 King Street) was rebuilt without its portico walk.
The growth of the market down to the end of the eighteenth century can be quickly traced. In 1671 the fifth Earl had leased his market rights for seven years, at £5 per annum. The second lease, granted in 1677, was for twenty-one years at £80 per annum plus a premium of 100 guineas. In 1705 the second Duke reverted profitably to yearly lettings, and in the next seven years the annual rents ranged from £500 to £700. In 1741 the rent was £1,200 per annum. By 1748 a miscellaneous trade was conducted in the market, and the rebuilding at that time provided 106 shops and 229 'stands'. These were low but substantial buildings, and marked another weakening in the concept of the Piazza as an open space enhancing the dignity and value of the houses surrounding it. On the other hand, by 1798 the market lessee was paying the Duke £2,500 per annum.
The family motto of the Dukes of Bedford, che sara sara, is inscribed on the market buildings, and seems to make its own appropriate comment on the market's growth. If not quite inevitable, that growth to the market's present dominating position was eased by clear advantages which it possessed from the beginning over its rivals. The market's central position was not unique, and the means of access far from good. But it enjoyed the great asset of a large area—the Piazza—explicitly and unambiguously licensed for its use, and, perhaps even more important, the unified possession of the market franchise and the freehold of the whole site and its environs in one uninterrupted ownership.
It may be observed, however, that che sara sara has not been the only Russell family motto, and that when the market charter was obtained the older plus que jamais was still in use. This less fatalistic maxim is perhaps more appropriate to an enterprise which, although greatly prospering, remained well into the nineteenth century a comparatively modest element in the whole revenue of the Covent Garden estate. In the eighteenth century the profits of the market were not vital to the Bedford economy, and in that sense the Dukes were not yet in thrall to its all-but-inevitable growth.
The other element that today makes up the dual associations of 'Covent Garden' became important a few years before the licensing of the market, when the Theatre Royal was opened on the edge of the parish, between Brydges Street and Drury Lane, in 1663. Probably it had little effect on the general social character of the parish. Some of the first Caroline residents had doubtless themselves been drawn to Covent Garden (like a character in Thomas Nabbes's Covent Garden of 1632–3), because 'we shall then be neere the Cockpit [in Drury Lane], and see a Play now and then'. But the Theatre Royal probably gave an impulse to the tavern life of the area and to the notable proliferation of Covent Garden coffee houses. One of the first of these was opened at the north-east corner of Bow Street and Russell Street in the same year as the opening of the Theatre Royal, and Will's was founded a few years later, nearly opposite in Bow Street. The Augustan coffee houses of the parish have a famous history, and the establishment of the Covent Garden Theatre in 1732, enticingly sited with its entrance in the Piazza's portico walk, gave renewed encouragement to this use of houses in the area, particularly in the Piazza itself.
Except as a place of resort for drink, talk or assignation Covent Garden was not overwhelmingly attractive to writers, who in the eighteenth century doubtless found it becoming too noisy. Its associations with men of letters are mostly transient.
Its popularity with graphic artists was more extensive and enduring, and dated from its earliest days. Perhaps in token of the greater remuneration for art than letters in Caroline England two of the first residents were painters, the Englishman John Hoskins and the Fleming, Remigius Van Leemput. By the 1650's Samuel Cooper, Francis Clein and Sir Peter Lely were added to their number. The latter two lived in the Piazza and were the precursors of a long line of artists to do so, among whom Sir Godfrey Kneller, Sir James Thornhill (with his son-in-law William Hogarth), Samuel Scott and Richard Wilson are only the best known of a numerous company. In 1726 Vertue commented on the prestige of the Piazza as a residence for artists, (fn. 35) and the animation of Covent Garden seems to have been more acceptable to them than to writers. But perhaps it eventually became too great, for in the second half of the eighteenth century Covent Garden was supplanted as an artists' quarter by Soho.
The second quarter of the eighteenth century, that saw the progressive encroachment of market buildings on the centre of the Piazza, saw also the disappearance of almost all the titled ratepayers from Covent Garden. Probably the last were Lord Chedworth and Lord Archer, whose occupations of No. 40 and No. 43 King Street both ended in 1757. About a dozen members of the House of Commons (perhaps a few more) still had addresses in the parish in 1733 and 1743, but these were mostly living in lodgings, and by 1762 only one or two are found. (fn. 36) In the period c. 1730–60 most of the houses on the north and east sides of the Piazza passed out of private residential occupation, a number of them to become coffee houses, taverns or hotels. A residential hotel of good class was opened at Lord Archer's old house in 1774, and for the next hundred years or more Covent Garden enjoyed a now-forgotten popularity as a hotel-quarter. One or two buildings erected towards the end of that period as hotels still survive in other use (Nos. 1–2 and Nos. 12–13 Henrietta Street and Russell Chambers), but although the Bedford Office seems to have welcomed this use of properties the circumstances of leasehold tenure on the estate would appear to have inhibited any development of a hotel-style architecturally. The Covent Garden hotels belonged rather to the old tradition of 'quasi-private' provision for a largely masculine clienteèle indifferent to luxury: in its later days the Tavistock was reputedly the refuge of sea-captains.
The further disruption of the unity of the portico houses in the second half of the eighteenth century, although conditioned by the obtrusive presence of the market buildings in the Piazza's central space, was not directly occasioned by these changes of social use. The substitution in 1769 of an entirely different design, lacking the portico walk, for the original range south of Russell Street was occasioned by a fire and was intended to subserve the entire abolition of the portico walks when leases expired in the 1790's. In fact, however, the 1790's saw a turn of taste, and hence of policy, towards the restoration of some measure of the Caroline unity, under the aegis of the fifth Duke's architect, Henry Holland. The restoration of the church in 1788–9 and its rebuilding after a disastrous fire in 1795, both at the hands of the vestry's architect, Thomas Hardwick, show the same wish to respect Jones's architecture.
The diversification of Covent Garden's occupants in the eighteenth century brought in auctioneers and booksellers, and in the early nineteenth century some publishers of books and periodicals whose names are still current. More industrial uses were closely restrained by the prohibition of an ever-widening range of noxious trades in leases on the Bedford estate. A few manufactories nevertheless established themselves in the parish—for example, coachmakers (probably at an early date), Godfrey's laboratory in Southampton Street, Bradley's distillery in Russell Street, and some engravers and printers. In the nineteenth century, however great the nuisance of the market, the manufacturing nuisances in the parish were mostly outside the Bedford estate (for example, the printing works in Exeter Street and the papier-mâché works in Wellington Street).
The opening of the parish to the surrounding streets was furthered in 1792–3 by the extension of Bow Street in a footway to Long Acre, but a much more important measure was taken in 1833–5 when this was widened into a roadway for traffic and at the same time Wellington Street was constructed to join the Bow Street–Charles Street line to the Strand. This improvement, only part of which lay within the parish and the Bedford estate, was carried out by the Commissioners of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues, with the ready co-operation of the sixth Duke of Bedford, who sold to the Commissioners for a 'nominal sum' the land they required of him. It came only a few years after the Duke's construction in 1828–30, at a cost of £61,000, of the market building designed by Charles Fowler to occupy the whole of the centre of the Piazza, and together with that development it marked an epoch in the evolution of Covent Garden as a commercial centre.
The old local identity of the parish was by no means dead, however. The Covent Garden tradesmen were still mostly resident within its boundaries, and the ousting of the self-elective vestry by a representative vestry in 1827–9 was marked by the animosity natural among disputants who were also neighbours. More pacifically, the existence of local sentiment was shown in the attempt to maintain the parish boys' school after its eviction from its quarters in 1836. This was unsuccessful, but other schools established in Hart Street a few years earlier were numerously attended, and, with the sixth Duke's support, survived the hostility of commercial interests in the neighbourhood, and rebuilt their premises in 1838. The Duke's attitude was clearly stated: 'I always wish schools on my property to be considered amongst "the most favoured nations"', he wrote to his steward; and added, 'altho' I am aware that they are necessarily and unavoidably a Nuisance, still they are a less grievous Nuisance than 700 uneducated and uninstructed Children.' The steward was more concerned at the discouragement of adjacent tenants—a hotelier, a smoking-room keeper, an auctioneer, an engraver and a tailor—and was able to stand out for a compromise solution. (fn. 37)
The more commercial future of Covent Garden was indicated unwaveringly when Fowler's market building totally obliterated any concept of the Piazza as an open space. Intrinsically, it was nonetheless a handsome and well-organized building, the design of which had been an object of great aesthetic concern to the sixth Duke. With its terrace, fountain and sculptured group (the last still pitifully visible among the chimney-pots) it accommodated gracefully enough the cornucopian delights of the early Victorian market.
But the views across the Piazza were now finally blocked, and the architectural disruption of its surrounding buildings became more brutal. The greatest outrage on the original design came in 1858 when the Floral Hall was intruded into the north-east corner: a year or two later the quadrangle was broken by the demolition of three houses in the south-east corner for a temporary flower market.
After the rebuilding of 1828–30 the market's management was placed directly in the hands of the Duke's own agents, instead of being leased out as hitherto. By 1860 the streets of Covent Garden were being drawn increasingly within the market's influence, and at about this time market tolls were imposed on fruit and vegetables received into warehouses on the Duke's estate outside the Piazza. In Hart Street the introduction of seedsmen's warehouses was adopted as a policy. The profits of the market continued to increase: in 1861 the net income was £6,752 compared with the highest pre-1828 rent of £2,900, and by 1870 it was £10,329. In the later 1870's tolls were again extended, to the sale of market goods on any of the Duke's premises outside the Piazza.
The needs of the market impelled the seventh and eighth Dukes to the expenditure of very great sums of money on three street-improvements in the period 1856–65, which gave the pattern of roadways nearly its present form. Garrick Street, situated almost entirely outside the parish and the Bedford estate, but providing an important opening from King Street to the West End, was made by the Metropolitan Board of Works, with the aid of £15,000 given it by the seventh Duke. The associated extension of Hart Street to join this new street was undertaken entirely by the Bedford estate, as was the extension northward of Burleigh Street to Tavistock Street whence a footway communicated with the market.
In contrast to this heavy outlay, no direct expenditure was normally made before the late 1880's on maintenance of the house-property of the estate. (fn. 38) Nevertheless the streets outside the Piazza now show many signs of the effect of control by the Bedford estate stewards and surveyors from the 1850's onwards, when an energetic policy of renovation, refacing or rebuilding was effected through the granting of leases. Structurally a good advanced standard was required of building lessees, and money was sometimes lent to assist them in new building. (fn. 39) Aesthetically, consecutive vagaries of mediocre taste are apparent. A certain conservative tendency can be noticed and a number of the buildings altered or erected in the 1850's and 1860's look earlier than they are. Many of the original seventeenth-century house-sites survived, and do to this day. Large-scale radical reconstruction was limited by the preference of the Bedford Office before the 1880's for granting leases to sitting tenants rather than to 'middleman capitalists'. When the size and importance of the Bedford Chambers rebuilding prompted recourse in 1876 to the large firm of William Cubitt and Company as lessees, the steward of the time felt it necessary to justify what he regarded as a departure from the usual practice. In this he somewhat understated the extent to which rebuilding leases in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had in fact been granted to building tradesmen rather than to the existing or prospective occupant. They were, however, mainly to local men, and this was still true in the second half of the nineteenth century when the local builder, William Howard, did much work on the estate, some of it as the Duke's building lessee. Another favoured building lessee was John Clemence of Villiers Street. William Cubitt had been employed to build the market in 1828–30 and Cubitt's had continued to be employed on additions and alterations to the buildings connected with the market, but except for a single lease in Bedford Street to William Cubitt in 1843 (fn. 40) Cubitt's do not appear as lessees of sites on the estate until they built Bedford Chambers.
Despite its strongly commercial character Covent Garden within the Bedford estate had in the second half of the nineteenth century still an element of localism or paternalism in its management. The Duke's agents had a good knowledge of his tenants, and at least one feature of the estate, the great reduction in the number of public houses, from seventyfour to thirty-four between 1854 and 1894, owed more to traditional landlordism than to the play of commercial forces. (fn. 41) (fn. 10)
Inevitably, however, the distinctive character of the parish and the estate was being diluted by their position as a tiny part of an increasingly complex metropolitan centre. The private premises were being interspersed with substantial buildings erected by more-or-less public bodies, but under essentially the same kind of building lease from the Duke as was taken by the small builder of a Georgian house. The offices of the Strand Board of Works (1857), the Bow Street Police Station and Magistrates' Court (1879–80), and the Post Office in Bedford Street (1883–4) were built under this tenure, as were such semi-public buildings as Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church (1873–4) and St. Peter's Hospital (1881–2).
When this last was being designed by the Hospital's architect the Bedford Office required that it should be so planned as to permit its conversion into residential flats in the future, for among the diverse forces influencing the development of the area in the late 1870's and 1880's was an element in Bedford estate policy tending to the preservation of some measure of Covent Garden's residential character. A block of flats, Sussex Mansions, was built by a lessee in Maiden Lane, the erection of new hotels was encouraged, and Bedford Chambers was originally intended to contain both a hotel and flats.
Bedford Chambers (1877–9) is the most important of the six large buildings in or adjacent to the Piazza built between 1876 and 1890 under the architectural control or influence of Henry Clutton, the architect of the ninth Duke, who succeeded to the title in 1872 and died in 1891. The whole area of the Piazza is now so dominated by the market that it should be recalled that in 1882–3 the Duke offered unavailingly to sell the market to public authorities, and that the extensive reconstruction of the surrounding buildings supervised for him by Clutton was not directly related to the market's growth, but was designed to serve other functions, and (in part) to satisfy a personal motive. In 1875 the Duke had commissioned Clutton to restore the church to something nearer its Jonesian form. A conscious historicism was at work, (fn. 11) and expressed itself also in the six secular buildings, which originated in an intention to restore the Jonesian Piazza. In the end, however, although the Duke was prepared to enforce his architectural taste in the face of opposition from his agents and lessees, the buildings actually erected were neither strictly uniform nor very close in style to Inigo Jones, and as the wholly disparate west front of the Flower Market was being built within the same period some deviation of purpose is evident.
In the period 1878–84 the revenue of the market rose by 41 per cent. In 1890 the net income from the market was nearly £23,000 and the rents from the rest of the Covent Garden estate about £31,000. Both continued to rise very rapidly in the next twenty years and by 1912 the figures were nearly doubled. In 1897 the eleventh Duke's steward was urging the value of the Covent Garden estate upon him, and suggesting that opportunity should be taken to augment rather than reduce it. In the early years of the twentieth century the estate gave all the outward signs of vigorous continuance. The imposing buildings of the Jubilee Market and an extension of the Flower Market in Russell Street were erected in 1904–5. The eastern end of Tavistock Street (then called York Street) was made to connect Catherine Street to Drury Lane, and the area between Russell Street and Broad Court cleared of its old inferior properties about 1900: land was bought for these purposes and some of it made over to the London County Council for housing sites. Between 1897 and 1912 a number of large and valuable buildings were added to the estate by lessees: the Broad Court rebuilding (mostly outside the parish, 1897), The Builder office and adjacent buildings (1902–5), the Country Life building (1904–5), the Aldwych and Strand Theatres and the Waldorf Hotel (outside the parish, 1905–8), Aldine House (1911) and Monro House in Tavistock Street (1912).
Within a year or so of the last of these the eleventh Duke had agreed to sell the estate. The astonishingly abrupt ending of the Bedford ownership in Covent Garden is discussed elsewhere in this volume. That the sale would not be a profitable transaction, in terms of the return to be expected from the reinvestment of the proceeds, was foreseen, and accepted. It is clear that a strong motive was fear that the private ownership of property carrying such public reponsibilities as the market might prove untenable in the changing political climate.
An agreement for the sale for £2,000,000, to a property speculator, was made in the autumn of 1913. In the following year the option to purchase was sold to Sir Joseph Beecham, the pill-manufacturer. After Sir Joseph's death the sale was finally made to his sons in July 1918. All proprietorial connexion of the Dukes of Bedford with Covent Garden was severed when the patronage of St. Paul's Church was transferred to the Bishop of London in 1938, the private boxes in the Theatre Royal and the Royal Opera House were given up in 1940, and the one outstanding piece of property, a site in James Street, was sold in 1945.
The half-century since the sale of 1918 has seen less change in the aspect and use of Covent Garden than in many other parts of central London. In 1961 the much-debated question of the public ownership of the market was resolved by an Act authorizing the establishment of a Covent Garden Market Authority, which in the following year took possession of the market and the lands shown in fig. 18. The inconvenience arising from the location of the Kingdom's main fruit and vegetable market on a site that had become so inadequate had long been felt, and an Act passed in 1966 provided for the removal of the market to Nine Elms in the early 1970's.
The Present Fabric of the Area
On the verge of the great changes promised by this removal of the market, the area exhibits the effect of a piecemeal but virtually complete disintegration of the original Caroline complex. Nothing of the house-fabric of the 1630's remains. The one building that does in essentials survive is the church of St. Paul (Plates 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, figs. 3, 6–14), and here the history of changes has included some beneficial work of restoration. Among the many alterations an extensive rebuilding was carried out by Thomas Hardwick after severe fire damage in 1795. Nevertheless, the present appearance of the building, after restorations in the second half of the nineteenth century, is in many ways closer to Jones's original conception of an austere Tuscan temple than at any previous period since the 1640's, when the addition of a south gallery began a series of disruptive alterations affecting both exterior and interior. The massive tetrastyle portico and the boldly cantilevered eaves of the temple roof are still most eloquent of Jones, whether they are original or replacements, and if there is reason to regret the hard red-brick facing of the exterior walls, carried out by A. J. Pilkington in 1887–8, it has at least the merit of establishing a material affinity with the Clutton facades in the Piazza, wherein both Jones and his possible model Chastillon are appropriately recalled.
After the church, the oldest surviving buildings in the parish are Nos. 26–27 Southampton Street, a pair of large single-fronted houses built in 1706–8 (Plate 76, figs. 33–8). Discounting later alterations, they can be seen as typical examples of the many houses that were built to the south of the Piazza when the site of Bedford House and garden was cleared for development. They are handsome, conventional specimens of the London house-carpenter's craft, but they show a retreat from the high standards of urban design set in the 1630's. Their many-windowed brick fronts exhibit a freedom of individual expression that was demonstrated even more assertively when the balance of the Piazza's north side was upset by replacing the westernmost four bays with the striking but inappropriate three-bay Baroque front of No. 43 King Street (Plates 77, 78, 79, figs. 25–30). Built in 1716–17, this very impressive town mansion is generally regarded as the work of Thomas Archer. Despite mutilation of the front and the loss of some fine internal features, this is the most important early eighteenth-century building in the parish, and its value is enhanced by the fact that Archer's other great houses in Soho Square and Cavendish Square no longer survive.
Handsome staircases and panelled rooms of the 1730's are concealed behind the Victorian cement-faced fronts of Nos. 7–8 Henrietta Street (Plates 80a, 80b, 84b, fig. 42), and a more modestly finished house of 1729, No. 15 Tavistock Street, survives virtually unaltered except for its gutted ground storey (Plate 81b). Opposite this last, Nos. 34–38 form a group of houses built in 1733, with some internal features added about 1820, and sober shop fronts of perhaps slightly later date (Plates 80c, 80d, 81a, 81c). Later eighteenthcentury domestic architecture is best represented by No. 37 King Street, built in 1773–4 and possibly designed by James Paine, with an elaborately composed late-Palladian front and an elegant open-well staircase (Plates 69b, 82, figs. 22–4). No. 15 King Street is a modest house of the same date and similar character, conceivably also by Paine (fig. 20).
Two of the largest and most important buildings in the area belong to the early nineteenth century. The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, fourth of this name and situation, was designed by the young Benjamin Dean Wyatt. (fn. 12) The severely simple and grandly scaled exterior is neo-Grecian in style, with a utilitarian portico added by either Sir John Soane or James Spiller in 1820, and a gracious Ionic colonnade by Samuel Beazley, added in 1831. Although the auditorium was completely rebuilt in 1921–2, it is still approached through a superb sequence of vestibules, ceremonial staircases, and a central rotunda, exhibiting the neo-classical taste of the period at its best.
The second great monument of this time is Charles Fowler's market, filling the central area of the Piazza, and built in 1828–30 to replace the sheds and stalls that had hitherto accommodated the ever-expanding business of the market (Plates 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, figs. 15–16, 19). Fowler's well-planned complex of buildings, with its Doric colonnaded fronts and a noble central avenue of shops, has remained virtually intact, although its original elegance has been sadly impaired by the addition, during the 1870's and 1880's, of William Cubitt and Company's iron and glass roofs over the internal courts.
The parish has a large legacy of Victorian buildings, one of the earliest and most important being the Royal Opera House in Bow Street, the third theatre in this situation. Economically planned on a relatively small site, the Opera House lacks the impressive foyers that are a feature of Drury Lane, but Barry's great Roman Corinthian portico is impressive and the spacious horseshoe auditorium is very beautiful and acoustically perfect. South of the Opera House is the Floral Hall of 1858–60, also by Barry, which however disruptive as an intrusion into the Piazza was in itself a charming conservatory-like structure in the Paxton tradition, now, unfortunately, lacking its semi-circular roof and dome of glass and iron.
About this time the Bedford Office appears to have favoured the use of a rich Italianate style for new buildings, or refacing of old premises, this work being generally carried out in Portland cement and sometimes in painted stucco. Buildings of this period (not all built on the Bedford estate) form a handsome sequence on the north side of King Street, where the west end begins with the long front of Debenham's auction rooms at No. 26, an interesting essay in eclectic Italianate, built in 1860 and designed by Arthur Allom with Matthew Digby Wyatt acting as consultant (Plate 68). This is skilfully linked with the Westminster Fire Office building at No. 27, which like the associated No. 28 has a Doric colonnaded ground storey and an upper face of neo-classical character, dating in the main from the 1850's (Plate 69a, 69c). Immediately to the east is another well-composed front embracing a pair of houses, dating from 1859–61 (Plates 68c, 83a). Nearby in Bedford Street, Nos. 14–16 form a sequence of identical house fronts that seem to echo, with Victorian nuances, the 'theatrical' fronts of the Circus in Bath (Plate 70b). Surprisingly enough, they are the work of S. S. Teulon, who might have been expected to produce something more akin to the very impressive building opposite, on the north-west corner of Henrietta Street. This highly individual variation on the Florentine quattrocento palazzo theme is, however, the work of Charles Gray and dates from 1857–8 (Plate 71a). The naturalistic details of this building show Ruskin's influence, while the full effect of Gothic revivalism is demonstrated in Butterfield's small but strikingly composed clergy house of 1859–60 in Burleigh Street (Plate 62b), and in No. 42 Maiden Lane, a French Flamboyant warehouse built in 1873 to the design of S. J. Nicholl for a firm of church furnishers. Opposite is the conspicuous tower and spire of Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, an early-Gothic building in stock brick, built in 1873–4 and designed by F. H. Pownall (Plate 62a).
The lingering influence of the Greek Revival is evident in the well-designed fronts of Nos. 8–9 James Street, dating from 1865–6 (Plate 74c), and Pennethorne's London University building in Burlington Gardens, near Piccadilly, finds a substantial echo in the conventionally handsome stone front of Bow Street Magistrates' Court, built in 1879–80 and designed by (Sir) John Taylor to harmonize with the Corinthian portico of the Royal Opera House opposite (Plate 61b). Changing taste affected the Bedford Office, which seems to have favoured, from the 1870's, an honest use of brick dressed with stone or terra-cotta, rather than the all-over facing of stucco or Portland cement hitherto generally approved as the customary finish for new or refurbished buildings. The most important and conspicuous rebuildings of this period were around the Piazza, for which the ninth Duke commissioned Henry Clutton to act as sole or superintending architect. The resultant buildings have a generally uniform character in a style aptly described at the time as ranging 'from Henri Deux to Henri Quatre' (Plates 48, 49). Elsewhere in the parish, Norman Shaw's Anglo-Dutch or Queen Anne manner exerted a strong influence, Henrietta Street containing two admirable examples in J. M. Brydon's St. Peter's Hospital of 1881–2 (Plate 62d), and Spencer Chadwick's charming and scholarly front of 1885–6 at Nos. 23–24 (Plate 71a). A striking contrast to these red brick buildings is presented by the Post Office building in Bedford Street (1883–4), with its imposing stone front in the Roman palazzo style of Sir Charles Barry (Plate 63a).
Early twentieth-century architecture is poorly represented in the parish. Catherine Street has an interesting sequence of three varied but related fronts in red brick and stone, designed in the Arts and Crafts manner by H. H. Statham and built in 1902–5 (Plate 71b), and the market buildings of 1904–5 by Lander, Bedells and Crompton are typical examples of Edwardian Baroque (Plate 47c). The single masterpiece of this period is the Country Life building in Tavistock Street, also built in 1904–5 (Plates 72, 73). This was Lutyens's first grand essay in his own inimitable 'Wrenaissance' manner, deriving from Hampton Court Palace. Another facet of his genius can be seen in the richly detailed clock cantilevered from Nos. 3–7 Southampton Street (fig. 39). The inter-war period saw little rebuilding of any quality in the parish, with the possible exception of J. H. Markham's impressive but curiously mannered Telephone Exchange of 1925–7 in Russell Street (Plate 63b). Similarly, the only striking contribution of recent times is the severely functional extension to the same exchange, fronting to Bow Street and built in 1964–7 (Plate 63c).
With the impending removal of the market a profound transformation of Covent Garden is certain. The form that the consequent changes will take is at present (1969) unknown. The Covent Garden Area draft plan prepared for the Greater London Council, the City of Westminster and the Borough of Camden would, if realized, be at a far-distant remove from the formality of the fourth Earl of Bedford's layout. Whatever is done, it is to be hoped that the result will not need to be excused by the precept which he recorded in his commonplace-book: 'I like things grounded uppon strict counsels that if thay miscary yet the resouns thay were built uppon will warrant the designe.'