In the heart of Covent Garden, The Sun Tavern’s past is steeped with the history of the district.
Once fields used by Westminster Abbey, “the garden of the Abbey and Convent” was seized by Henry VIII and granted to Earls of Bedford in 1552. Inigo Jones was commissioned by the 4th Earl to build grand houses to attract wealthy tenants. Along with the development Jones designed the Italianate arcaded square, known now as Covent Garden Piazza, the first of its kind in London. In 1654 a small open air fruit and vegetable market sprouted, and gradually coffee houses, taverns, theatres and brothels moved in.
The gentry quickly fled and by the 18th Century, Covent Garden had become a well-known red light district. The neighbourhood attracted notable prostitutes, such as Betty Careless and Jane Douglas. One the more remarkable relics of the era was Harris’ List of Covent Garden Ladies, “the essential guide and accessory for any serious gentleman of pleasure”, which provided descriptions of the prostitutes and where to find them. Magistrate John Fielding calls it the Covent Garden, the Great Square of Venus
Much of Covent Garden has remained though the area has grown from slums to a premiere shopping destination. Still ever-present are legendary landmarks The Royal Opera House, and Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Additionally Covent Garden has made its cultural mark, featured in a number of classics, Eliza Doolittle, the central character in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion and its musical adaptation My Fair Lady was a Covent Garden Flower Seller. Frenzy, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1972 thriller tells the story of a Covent Garden fruit seller turned serial sex killer. Hitchcock’s inspiration for the film came from the market where his father was a grocer. With regular street performers and entertainment, Covent Garden is still brimming with character.
The Sun Tavern was once thought to be an old fire hall. Now on the top floor it offers a fantastic upstairs bar, which is also available for hire. Many customers have enjoyed a lively night here! On the flip side, the quieter times sees the upstairs bar for those wanting a little 'escape', relaxing by the window, enjoying the real fire, and overlooking sprightly Long Acre.
It’s also a perfect new find for visitors to London and those taking in a bit of culture with our pre-theatre menu before a short stroll to the Royal Opera House, Theatre Drury Lane, or one of the other surrounding West End theatres.