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St Paul’s Church London
Bedford Street
London WC2E 9ED
TfL Fare Zone 1
 
 
 
Visitors from outside Britain can mistake the name ‘St Paul’s Church’ for the famous ‘St Paul's Cathedral’. This article is about St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden.
 
Inigo Jones
St Paul’s Church was designed by Inigo Jones as an integral part of the Piazza development in 1631. The Earl of Bedford who commissioned the development stated that he did not want to spend a lot of money on the church and would like it to be “not much better than a barn. Inigo Jones replied “Well then, you should have the handsomest barn in England.”
 
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The church interior is a double square, 100 feet by 50 feet, simple and majestic, and is certainly not a barn. It is well lit with plain glass windows and a gallery over the west door. The stone Tuscan Portico overlooking the Piazza was meant to be the entrance but the Bishop of London, William Laud insisted that the altar should stand at the east end, so two side doors had to be created. These were later blocked up and access is now from outside the Piazza, from King, Bedford or Henrietta Streets. The back of the church is a lovely red brick.
 
The Actors' Church
The church is also known as ‘The Actors’ Church’ because of its long association with the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the The Royal Opera House. There are many memorials inside the church to famous performers of the 20th century such as Charlie Chaplin, Vivien Leigh and Hattie Jacques.
 
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The artist JMW Turner was baptised here, as was W S Gilbert of Gilbert & Sullivan fame. Many famous people have been buried here – composer of "Rule Britannia", Thomas Arne (1778); Thomas Rowlandson (1827), painter and illustrator; and the ashes of actresses Ellen Terry (1928) and Dame Edith Evans (1976) are interred in the wall. Famous 17th century master carver, Grinling Gibbons (1721) is commemorated with a piece of his own beautiful carving transferred from St Paul's Cathedral.
 
One of the memorials is to Claude Duval, notorious highwayman who was hanged at Tyburn in 1670. It is not known if he is buried underneath the stone slab which reads:
 
Here lies Du Vall: Reader if male thou art
Look to thy purse; if female to thy heart.
 
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It is interesting to see how many well known people have been part of the life of this church. The first recorded English performance of the puppet show Punch and Judy took place in Covent Garden in 1662 and this is commemorated annually with a special puppeteers’ service.
 
An unusual feature of the church is the beautiful wildflower floral arrangements. The walled churchyard has the most lovely rose gardens and shady trees with plenty of benches to sit on and memorial plaques set into the paving stones and walls.
 
Admission Charge
The church is open to the public free of charge but donations are always welcome and members of the public are more than welcome to attend services.
 
Disabled Access
Accessible from Henrietta and Bedford Streets with a ramp at the church steps.
 
Facilities
There are No Toilets at the church. Public toilets are in the Piazza beside the church portico.
 
No Smoking
There is No Smoking in the church or its surrounds.
 
Opening Hours
Monday – Friday 08:30 – 17:30
Saturday -  For opening times, visit: St Paul's Church website below
Sunday 09:00 – 13:00 (17:00 when there is evensong)
Before you visit, we recommend you visit the church website and confirm daily opening times at  Web:  St Paul's Church Calendar
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone  +44 (0)2078 365 221
Mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Finding the Church
The Church has excellent directions on their website at  Web:  St Paul's Church Getting There directions
 
Getting There
To find the best way for getting to St Paul's Church, visit TfL Journey Planner.
 
- By Underground
Covent Garden Station     Piccadilly Line  (Exit into the Piazza – The Covent Garden station is often congested on weekends. Check the Transport for London website for details)
Charing Cross Station      Northern Line, Bakerloo Line, National Rail
Leicester Square Station  Piccadilly Line, Northern Line
Holborn Station               Piccadilly Line, Central Line
 
- By Bus
Bus Routes Numbers 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 77a, 91, 139, 176 travel along the Strand. It is a 5 minutes walk from the Strand to Covent Garden.
 
We suggest that you visit the Transport for London 'Journey Planner' on this page.
 
Google Maps - St Paul's Church