Saturday, 4 September 2010

Culture Sandwich No. 2: Seven Dials

Our new series for those who work in London – highlighting the nooks, corners and green spaces in which one can linger of a lunchbreak. Grab lunch and catch up on those familiar landmarks that you never seem to have the time to look at on your way to and from work in the company of our Saturday Girl Karen Pierce-Goulding, winner of the prestigious Blue Badge Guide of the Year award.

The Culture Bit

As the last of the summer sun bathes the capital with, take the opportunity of seeing the Seven Dials Sun dials in Covent Garden really working.

This eccentric little monument replaces the 17th Century column which originally stood here. The first column was decorated with seven clock faces each pointing in the direction of a street.

The column was designed as a centre piece to a brand new housing development initiated by the property speculator Thomas Neale who created seven streets radiating out from this centre point in order to maximise the number of houses he could build and in doing so make the most profit from his newly acquired land.

Neale wanted to attract rich and fashionable residents to his properties but instead the area became infamous for its gin shops and the column as a popular meeting point for thieves and vagabonds. The first column was pulled down in 1773 after rumours that there was treasure buried beneath it. The rumours, needless to say, were false.

The new Sundial Pillar was made by trainee stonemasons and was unveiled in 1989. As you study the new centrepiece, you will notice there are only six blue sundials decorating the apex – surely some mistake… until you realise the seventh dial is actually the entire monument. Clever eh?

Today Neale’s original wish that the Seven Dials should be a fashionable, desirable place has finally been well and truly fulfilled – it forms the top left hand corner of charismatic Covent Garden with its bevy of bars, boutiques and beautiful people.

The Sandwich Bit

Sit at the monument itself and let the cabs growl by while tucking in to a luridly coloured confection from Candy Cakes on nearby Monmouth Street. It’s not one of your Five-a-Day, but it certainly is fun! Candy Cakes 36 Monmouth Street, WC2H 9HB, telephone 020 7497 8979

The London Walks Bit

Look out for Hidden West End End: Gin City, Slum of Slums, the Seven Deadly Dials Pub Walk this October 23rd.

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1 comment:

  1. great information on london past and present.