THEATRELAND WC2 / W1

Covers a number of charming pubs in Covent Garden, the area that's been part of London's theatre scene for centuries. Explore small, intersecting streets, the famous Piazza and the Royal Opera House.

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What to look out for on the way

Begin at The Cambridge(1). While you're there, take a look at the traffic island in the middle of the junction between Charing Cross Road and Old Compton Street. There, on the grill, you'll see signs to Little Compton Street, a now vanished road that used to link Old Compton and New Compton streets.

The trail then takes you on to The Bear & Staff(2) by Leicester Square. The Square is named after Robert Sydney, 2nd Earl of Leicester, who bought four acres of land here in 1630.

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When you reach the Strand on your way to The Princess of Wales(3), imagine what this road would have been like before the building of The Embankment in the 19th century. "Strand" is an old English word for "shore" or "riverbank". At that time, the street fronted directly onto the Thames. Further along the Strand, you'll see the Adelphi Theatre on your left. A plaque by the stage door describes the murder of the actor William Terriss, who was stabbed to death here by a disgruntled fellow actor in December 1897. They say that Terriss haunts the theatre to this day.

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Near The Coal Hole(4) is the world-famous Savoy Hotel, built in 1889. The hotel forecourt is the only street in the United Kingdom where vehicles drive on the right. It's a safety precaution that goes back to the days when cab drivers had to stick their arm out of the window to open the rear passenger door.

Opposite The Wellington(5) you'll see historic Somerset House. The building's central block dates from 1776. And more than 200 years before that, it was the site of Henry VIII's great mansion of the same name.

The Royal Opera House, which dates from 1858, is a fine building that retains its original 19th-century facade, foyer and atrium. Beyond that, you'll find The White Lion(6).

At The Porcupine(7), your trip ends close to where you started. Here, as in every other pub on this trail, you'll see that the appreciation of history goes hand in hand with the appreciation of a great pint of ale.

Please check individual pub pages for opening times, as some of our City of London sites are closed over the weekend.