Seven Dials is a well-known junction in the West End area of London, situated between Soho and Covent Gardens. The name refers to the seven streets that converge at a center point; a roundabout, at the center of which is a pillar and six sundials. The streets are cobblestone and you can feel the history as you wander around the small neighborhood.
Seven Dials is known as the ‘hip’ area of London, but it hasn’t always been this way. The neighborhood has had a 300 year struggle for survival starting back in the 17th century.
Thomas Neale was given the piece of land in 1690 as a reward for raising money for the Crown. He had a vision to create one of the most stylish areas in the city.
Neale submitted his innovative plans for the star shaped street pattern, however innovation was not his motivation; money was. At the time, rentals were charged per foot of frontage, not by per square foot of interior. This meant Neale would earn much more on his properties with the large frontage that his design allowed for.
However, despite his vision, the area did not become the sophisticated neighborhood he had hoped it would be. In fact, things took a turn for the worst almost immediately. The area turned in to an enormous slum due to bad leasing agreements. Then, in 1773 the original sundial pillar was demolished which became symbolic of the neighborhoods demise.
It wasn’t until the 20th century that new life would be given to Seven Dials. In 1974 it was declared a Conservation area which made it one of the most richly historical neighborhoods of London. In 1989 the government replaced the sundial monument, which still stands today.
Seven Dials is a lovely place to take a stroll in a quieter part of London. It can be a welcome relief to escape the madness of London city. As you stroll around the area you will find upscale boutiques, locally made produce, great restaurants and bars. One of our favorites was a cheese store called Neal’s Yard Diary. After a couple of free samples we bought home more than enough cheese to feed a family of 20!
The area also has it’s share of celebrity history with Monty Python having living in the area, as did the Beatles manager Brian Epstein. You will find wall plaques located in the area in honor of their famous residents.
Seven Dials is very well located and within walking distance of three tube stations (Convent Gardens, Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road) or the many bus stops near by. We are confident you will enjoy a wonder around the streets and a bite to eat, whether you come to the area for Seven Dials alone or you incorporate it with a visit to Soho or Convent Gardens.
While things have changed slightly since Thomas Neales day, the area continues to offer a great mix of boutiques, entertainment and residences, of the not so famous.
For information on Seven Dials, please visit www.visitlondon.com
Have you been to Seven Dials, London?