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Not only Seven Dials but also St Martin's Courtyard Shopping
Twenty-first century Seven Dials and St Martin's Courtyard is a buzzy shopping area that comprises a mix of independent shops, chains, restaurants, cafes and hotels. Bordering on Covent Garden it is less well known among tourists and locals, but is no less important to Londoners.
Seven Dials was laid out in the late seventeenth century as a pattern of seven streets, radiating out from one central Sundial Pillar. Originally envisaged as a fashionable residential area for well-to-do Londoners, it failed to live up to the expectations of Thomas Neale, the site's original developer, and the man whose name is commemorated in Neal Street and Neal's Yard. By the early part of the following century the streets had declined into a slum location synonymous with gin shops, drunkards and criminals. It continued to deteriorate into the nineteenth century and was famed for selling second and third-hand goods; a place where children played unsupervised in the streets whilst their parents drank themselves silly in the neighbourhood's pubs.
The Sundial (Picture courtesy of sevendials.co.uk)
Many of the original buildings still remain in place and twentieth century landmarks now include a pair of blue plaques. One can be seen above 13 Monmouth Street where Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles and a host of other Liverpool groups and singers, ran his company, NEMS Enterprises. The other commemorates the Animation, Editing and Recording Studios of Monty Python.
Monty Python (Picture Courtesy of sevendials.co.uk/history)
History lesson over, now for the present day: on 29 November the area will be closed to traffic for a discounted Christmas shopping occasion. It won't just be an excuse to make you open your wallets and have a little attempt to reanimate the economy, you'll also be given something in return. Many businesses will be offering a 20% discount on purchases, and there will be complimentary cocktails, goodie bags and manicures as well as competitions and live music to turn the Seven Dials and St Martin's Courtyard into one amazing shopping party.
Seven Dials Shopping Event (Picture Courtesy of sevendials.co.uk)
And of course the area boasts its own Christmas illuminations, for a further festive feel. Why restrict yourself to indoor shopping malls when you can enjoy yourself in the open air?