This square lies in the borough of Westminster, just northwest of the Strand. For more than 300 years it held the principal fruit, flower, and vegetable market of the metropolis. Adjacent to the former market site stands the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden), home of Britain's oldest national opera and ballet companies. Originally a convent garden (its present name a corruption of this) owned by the Benedictines of Westminster, the site was developed by the 4th earl of Bedford as the cities of London and Westminster grew together along the north bank of the River Thames. It was laid out in the 1630s as a “piazza,” or residential square, the first of its kind in London.
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