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Blog

Leicester Square

07 Sep 2016   |   0 Comments

Leicester Square is the first yellow on the Monopoly board. The land where Leicester Square now lies, once belonged to the Abbot and Convent of Westminster Abbey and the Beaumont family. In 1536, Henry VIII took control of 3 acres and later gained another 4 acres.

The pedestrianised square in the West End of London, England, was laid out in 1670 and is named after the contemporary Leicester House, itself named after Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester. The square was originally a gentrified residential area, boasting tenants such as the Prince of Wales, Sir Isaac Newton and Karl Marx.

In one of the earliest maps of the area (the Civitas Londinium, which was created between 1570 and 1605), the site of what is now Leicester Square, is shown as a drying ground for clothes. Women would lay out garments on the grass, with cattle grazing in the next field. It then become famous as a duelling spot at the end of the seventeenth century. 

 In the late 18th century Leicester House was demolished, making it more down market and retail developments took over. The square has always had a park in its centre, which was originally lammas land. The park's fortunes have varied over the centuries, reaching near dilapidation in the mid19th century after changing ownership several times. The square was extensively refurbished and remodelled for the 2012 London Olympics, costing more than £15m and taking over 17 months to complete.

Its popularity for the entertainment business has seen it surrounded by floor mounted plaques with film stars' names and cast handprints. During the 2010–2012 refurbishment, many of the plaques were removed, confusing tourists who still expected to find them there. It is also the prime location in London for film premieres and co-hosts the London Film Festival each year.

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