London area of Seven Dials guide
What to do and where to stay in London's Seven Dials neighbourhood
The Seven Dials refers to the layout of the cobbled streets in this scenic part of Covent Garden which includes Monmouth Street, Earlham Street and Mercer Street. The seven streets radiate out from the central sundial - which can still be seen today but is a replica of the original. Looking closely you'll see the dial only has only six faces; this is due to an earlier urban planning drawn up by Thomas Neale in the 17th century who devised the characteristic seven dials street layout to maximise the number of houses that could be built on the site - so maximising his profit. His aim was to create an affluent, upper class area similar to Covent Garden Piazza. He didn't exactly succeed. By the 1700s it was home to shops selling second and third hand goods, Charles Dickens Junior noted the shops stocking "every rarity of pigeon, fowl and rabbit, together with rare Birds such as hawks, owls and parrots, love birds and other species native and foreign". Today, Neale would be proud of the fashionable shops, cafes, theatres and the fashionable crowd they attract. The area has a distinctive community spirit thanks to the promotion of independent stores alongside more mainstream names. This is close to a village as you'll get this deep into central London.