The History Of Leicester Square In 1 Minute

Stephanie Butler

With Chinatown to the north, Trafalgar Square to the south, Covent Garden to the east and Piccadilly Circus to the west, Leicester Square lies right in the heart of the London’s lively and exciting West End. A fabulous and energetic area that regularly sees celebrities and performances, Leicester Square is a much-loved part of the city with a plentiful history.

Chiara Dalla Rosa /

A pedestrianised square in the West End of London, Leicester Square was once not so energetic. There is a ‘woodcut’ map of the late sixteenth century called ‘Civitas Londinium,’ which is one of the oldest of its kind, which portrays Leicester Square as an area for drying clothes. Women would lay out clothing to dry, and cows grazed close by. In 1670, the square was laid out, and was named after the contemporary Leicester House, which was named after the second Earl of Leicester.

Chiara Dalla Rosa /
Chiara Dalla Rosa /
Chiara Dalla Rosa /
Chiara Dalla Rosa /

It became a middle-class residential area, and was home to many famous occupants including Frederick, Prince of Wales, William Hogarth, Joshua Reynolds and Karl Marx. Towards the end of the 18th century, Leicester House was pulled down and the square became more down-market. Retail establishments were built and thrived, and the area became a centre of entertainment in the capital. Numerous theatres were built throughout the 19th century, and these were subsequently adapted to be cinemas in the 20th century.

Chiara Dalla Rosa /

Nowadays, the area is dense with expensive and nationally important cinemas, including the Odeon Leicester Square and the Empire Leicester Square, which are both regularly used for film premieres. Radio stations, casinos and other culturally significant establishments are located in the square, as well as many successful restaurants and bars. The park in the centre has been home to statues of William Hogarth, Charlie Chaplin, John Hunt, Sir Isaac Newton and William Shakespeare, and the discounted theatre ticket office Theatreland is also situated amongst the greenery. Leicester Square drives in countless tourists, hosts events for Chinese New Year, and was also refurbished for the 2012 London Olympics.

Chiara Dalla Rosa /
Chinese New Year

With features of the old and new city combined into one, Leicester Square is definitely a favourite for locals and visitors in London.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article