Though not technically called a circus, Seven Dials is a junction where seven lanes meet.
Dates from 1690's
Was Built by licence on green fields
Land owner - The Worshipful Company of Mercers
Architect - Thomas Neale
Original plan was for six roads leading the the centre:
Little and Great Earl Street - renamed Earlham Street
Little and Great White Lyon Street - renamed Mercer Street
Queen Street - renamed Shorts Gardens (the seventh street)
Little and Great St Andrews Street - renamed Monthmouth Street
The layout of the development focussed on maximising the frontage of the properties rather than the square footage of the houses. This maximised the income from rental.
Originally the plan allowed for six roads, however a seventh, Queen Street was added.
At the centre is a column containing six sun dials - the number of roads orginally proposed It is said that the column itself acts as the seventh dial.
The original column designed and constructed by Edward Pierce circa 1693 - 94 was dismatled in 1773 and now can be found in Weybridge.
A second column was constructed in 1988 following the original design and details of Queen Beatrix can be found at the base.
It is said that at one time each of the apexes contained a pub. Now only The Crown - pictured remains. The seven pubs each had a cellar and it is rumoured that tunnels interconnected each pub so customers wishing to escape the authorities could 'disappear'.
Originally built to attract wealthy residents, the area was not as popular as Thomas Neale had planned and became a slum with a grim reputation.
However, attacted by cheap accommodation in 1800's many workers moved into the area and though still not the desirable residence of Neale's vision, the area started to attract better businesses.
Today it is a tourist attraction and full of independant shops and restaurants, and benefits from it's close proximity to Covent Garden.