Leicester Square in London has just re-opened after its £15.3million facelift and is looking fantastic; light and bright for the daytime & chic and sleek for the evening film premieres for which it is world famous . This picture shows the recently renovated Swiss Glockenspiel and the exit to Piccadilly Circus with the Union flags already in place for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
But this London square is not the original Leicester Square, that is located in the village of Penshurst in Kent, nestling just outside the walls of Penshurst Place by St John’s Church.
The original Leicester Square was so named after the Earls of Leicester whose family seat was the magnificent stately pile Penshurst Place, a favourite country house of King Henry VIII & later Queen Elizabeth I.
But back to London, shortly after the Great Fire of London in 1666 Robert Sidney, the second Earl of Leicester built a mansion on the north side of the Square named Leicester House s that he had a town house that complemented his country house.
It was one of the most important addresses in London, often the venue for grand parties attended by royals and dignitaries, including diarist John Evelyn, playwright William Wycherley and the poet Dryden. The future George II lived here in 1717.
So, old or modern, town or country, it’s all in a name; just check you know which one you are planning to visit, one is distinctly quieter than the other!
Blue Badge tourist guide