Kemp’s Court, W1F

Courtyard in/near Soho, existing between 1703 and now

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Courtyard · Soho · W1F ·

Kemp’s Court is situated in the heart of Berwick Street Market where a line of stalls stretch down both sides of the road.

All varieties of fruits and vegetables are available and the market has a tradition of specialising in the most exotic species. The street markets of London have been a feature of the City for many years and the market in Berwick Street has been here since 1840 – not the oldest by far but certainly one of the most popular.

Trading is at its peak around lunchtime when the street turns into a bustling hive of brisk activity, and at the close of business many of the items can be had for little more than a song.

The present panorama is a scene quite in contrast to the salubrious sounding description of Berwick Street outlined by Edward Hatton (New View of London) in 1708: ‘a kind of row like a small piazza, the fronts of the houses resting on columns.’ Number 83 was the studio of John Hall, engraver; it was here in 1791 that he meticulously worked from the portrait of Sheridan by Sir Joshua Reynolds

The modern King of Corsica public house is on the corner of the Court. If you visit Kemp’s Court out of market hours when the cabbage leaves and the squashed apples have been washed away, you will find two or three barrows ‘resting’ by the northern wall.

Citation information: The alleyways and courtyards of London: K – The Undergroun
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Soho is a world-famous area of the City of Westminster and part of the West End of London.

The name "Soho" first appears in the 17th century. Most authorities believe that the name derives from a former hunting cry. James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, used "soho" as a rallying call for his men at the Battle of Sedgemoor on 6 July 1685, half a century after the name was first used for this area of London. The Soho name has been imitated by other entertainment and restaurant districts such as Soho, Hong Kong; Soho, Málaga; SOHO, Beijing; SoHo (South of Horton), London, Ontario, Canada; and Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires. SoHo, Manhattan, gets its name from its location SOuth of HOuston Street, but is also a reference to London’s Soho.

Long established as an entertainment district, for much of the 20th century Soho had a reputation as a base for the sex industry in addition to its night life and its location for the headquarters of leading film companies. Since the 1980s, the area has undergone considerable gentrification. It is now predominantly a fashionable district of upmarket restaurants and media offices, with only a small remnant of sex industry venues.

Soho is a small, multicultural area of central London; a home to industry, commerce, culture and entertainment, as well as a residential area for both rich and poor. It has clubs, including the former Chinawhite nightclub; public houses; bars; restaurants; a few sex shops scattered amongst them; and late-night coffee shops that give the streets an "open-all-night" feel at the weekends. Record shops cluster in the area around Berwick Street, with shops such as Phonica, Sister Ray and Reckless Records.
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