Drury Lane: The heart of London's Theatreland

Drury Lane is a road that runs along the eastern edge of London's Theatreland.

Over the years its name has become almost synonymous with West End theatre. The street has been in existence since 1199, but only took its current name in the 1600s when Drury House was built on the site. The first Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, opened in 1663 and thus began Drury Lane's ascendancy to the heights of theatrical entertainment.

It was helped by the discovery of a beautiful young girl selling oranges to theatre patrons. The girl was Nell Gwyn, who went on to have a highly successful stage career and become the most famous, and beloved, mistress of Charles II. Quite a feat given the amount of competition she had!

During Nell's time Drury Lane was pretty much a slum area, reflecting theatre's position as entertainment for the masses. Prostitutes and pickpockets mingled happily with patrons, this continued until the 19th century when the ghetto-style architecture as pulled down and the area became more upmarket, as it remains today.