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Leicester Square

From Academic Kids

For details on the adjacent London Underground station, see Leicester Square tube station

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Leicester_Square_in_1750.JPG
Leicester Square in 1750, looking north. The large house set back behind a forecourt at the north east corner is Leicester House, then the residence of Frederick, Prince of Wales.

Leicester Square (pronounced 'Lester Square') is a pedestrian square in the West End of London, United Kingdom, lying to the west of Charing Cross Road, north of Trafalgar Square and east of Piccadilly Circus. It is named and built on the site of Leicester Fields, which were the fields in front of the Earl of Leicester's mansion, Leicester House. The area was developed in the 1670s.

In 1848 Leicester Square was the subject of the famous land law case of Tulk v Moxhay. The plot's previous owner had agreed a covenant not to erect buildings after his purchase. But the law would not allow promises to bind purchasers in transactions later on, who were not 'privy' to this initial contract. The leading judge, Lord Chancellor Cottenham, decided it would be equitable that in the case of land covenants involving promises to abstain from activity could bind future owners. Otherwise a buyer could simply sell land to himself again to undermine an initial promise. Hence the Leicester Square we know today was saved from development.

In the middle of the Square is a small park, in the centre of which is a statue of William Shakespeare surrounded by dolphins. At each corner gate of the park is a statue: those featured are: Sir Isaac Newton (famous scientist), Sir Joshua Reynolds (the first President of the Royal Academy), John Hunter (a pioneer of surgery), William Hogarth (famous painter). The most recent addition is a statue of Charlie Chaplin (film star).

The Centre of Leicester Square
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The Centre of Leicester Square

Leicester Square is the centre of London's cinema land. UK film premieres are typically hosted at one of the four cinemas located directly within the square. Various claims about the cinemas in the Square are made including that it contains the cinema with the largest screen and the cinema with the most number of seats (over 2000).

The square is also the home for 'tkts', formerly known as the Official London Half-Price Theatre Ticket Booth. This booth is jointly owned and operated by various theatre groups. Tickets for theatre performances taking place around the West End that day are sold from the booth for around half-price. The popularity of the booth has given rise to many other booths and stores around the square advertising 'half price' tickets for West End shows. It is claimed that at least some of these booths are fraudulent. Despite having names like 'Official Half-Price Ticket Booth', they are neither official nor do they offer half-price tickets.

The square is home to several nightclubs and is consequently often very busy, particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings. Some claim that the Square has a relatively 'seedy' atmosphere.

Capital Radio moved its headquarters and London studios to the east side of Leicester Square, close to the Odeon Leicester Square, in 1997. XFM, an indie music radio station owned by Capital Radio, also shares the building.

Major cinema

  • Odeon Leicester Square, which dominates the east side of the Square, is the largest screen in Europe and had the first digital projector (2002), hosting most premieres with capacity of over 2000.
  • The adjacent Odeon Mezzanine has four smaller auditoria.
  • Empire on the north of the Square is the next-largest cinema, holding some 1500. It also has two smaller screens.
  • Odeon West End, on the south side, contains two screens which can sit 1000 each and is used for smaller premieres.
  • Vue, on the north side near the north east corner, was previously the Warner Brothers Village, a multiplex that hosted only Warner Bros film premieres. Together with the rest of the Warner Village chain, it was bought out by Vue in 2004.
  • A short distance to the west of the Square on the south side of Panton Street is the Odeon Panton Street, another 2-screen Odeon cinema.

Other Cinema

Major pubs, clubs and restaurants

External links

no:Leicester Square

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