London Interactive

    Map Return to museumsindex page
 

Punch and Judy in Covent Garden

 
 

On 9 May 1662 the diarist Samuel Pepys wrote:

'To Covent Garden, to an ale house... thence to see an Italian puppet play that is within the rails there - the best that ever I saw, and great resort of gallants'. The star of the play was a Neopolitan marionette with a hooked nose, black mask and baggy white smock - his name was Pollicinella, but the English soon adopted him as their own, corrupting his name to Punchinello and eventually Punch.

Punch & Judy today is as English and as popular as Roast Beef although their characters have changed considerably since the days of Pepys. The present show is essentially Victorian by which time Punch had emerged from his coarse hen-pecked husband image and was rapidly becoming the modern wife-beating murderer. Covent Garden Piazza, outside St Paul's Church, has, thanks to Pepys, become the traditional birthplace of Punch & Judy - a fitting tribute as it was also at this time that Covent Garden become the birthplace of London's West End Theatre

Next Covent Garden Market