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Seven Dials Guide

Home > London > Theatre | Shopping | Pubs | Hotels | Cafes
by Cressida Ryan (subscribe)
Classicist and traveller
Published February 17th 2014
Seven Dials

A local landmark, yes, seven corners around one junction. History, entertainment, accommodation and retail are all evident here in this unique London 'corner'. London is an organic city which evolved as much as being planned meticulously, and odd places like this make it very obvious.

At the centre of the junction is a pillar with six sundials on it. There were only supposed to be six roads converging here, which would have been impressive enough, but in the end there were seven. It was originally designed in the 1690s by Thomas Neale. He then withdrew from the project, but his influence can still be seen in place (and business) names such as Neal's Yard.

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Seven Dials sundial

The sundial needed replacing, and a new one was unveiled in 1989 during a visit by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Originally planned during the reign of William (of Orange) and Mary, the restored and renovated area formed part of her visit to commemorate the tercentenary of their reign. The Seven Dials Trust continues to work for its preservation.

Over time it's been known as a hub for brawling and villainy, but today it's a bustling thoroughfare for locals and tourists alike. On each corner is something interesting, representing the different faces of London.

The Crown Pub

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The Crown Pub

Between Earlham Street and Monmouth Street is squeezed the Crown Pub. Established in 1833, it's one of the more permanent foundations at Seven Dials, offering great views of this unusual location.

Mercer Street Hotel

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Mercer Street Hotel

On the corner of Mercer Street is the Mercer Street Hotel, an Edwardian institution now owned by the Radisson Blu chain. With great reviews and a stunning location, it's not somewhere to stay if you're on a budget, but is definitely worth looking up if you want to splash out. The official address is in fact Monmouth Street, which is known for particularly good coffee, from Monmouth Coffee.

Le Coq Sportif

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Le Coq Sportif

On the other corner of Mercer Street, Le Coq Sportif offers a venue to stock up on fitness kit to exercise away all the fine meals you can have in the area.

Caffe Nero

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Caffe Nero

A chain. Yes, even in independent areas of London the chains are evident, but this is at least one where you can guarantee a good coffee, relaxed atmosphere and subtle music.

Vidal Sassoon

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Vidal Sassoon

On the corner of the continuation of Monmouth Street is a branch of the well-known Vidal Sassoon hair salon. Priding themselves on hair design to suit the individual, this is an expensive but consequently high quality place to be groomed. One of five branches in London (12 in the UK), it would be a great place to splash out on a new look.

Cambridge Theatre

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Cambridge Theatre

On the corner of Earlham Street is the Cambridge Theatre; built to suit this weird space in 1929-30, it remains an example of quirky, 'expressionist' theatre. Matilda has run here since November 2011.

Fred Perry

On the 'final' corner is a branch of Fred Perry, a brand from the 1940s, blending street wear and sportswear to create a range of accessories and kit for men and women.

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Fred Perry

References to Seven Dials run all the way through English popular culture, from Charles Dickens and W.S. GiIbert to Agatha Christie and Terry Pratchett. It's an iconic part of London's architectural heritage, and another good reason for walking around London instead of always taking public transport. The area has its own website to help orientate you, which is very important in this confusion of road intersections.
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Why? London in a nutshell
Where: Seven Dials
Your Comment
Excellent article on the area, Cressida.
by Bastion Harrison (score: 4|12626) 3095 days ago
"A hub for brawling and villainy". Ha! Excellent. :)
by Midlands & More (score: 2|560) 3095 days ago
Thanks guys. Central London is always interesting to look into, and it's fascinating to consider how places have changed.
by Cressida Ryan (score: 2|121) 3095 days ago
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