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Neals Street

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Neals Street
Neals Street
Neals Street

We must start with Neale himself (the last E has been lost to history). Little is known of his early life but he came to prominence at court as Groom to Charles II, James II and William III, in this capacity his duties included furnishing the Kings’ tables with cards, dice and stooges willing to lose money to His Majesty’s superior skill at games of chance. It was also the Groom’s responsibility to settle any disputes which arose at the card table in a fair manner (i.e. in favour of the King). So good was Neale at this job that, in 1684, Charles II empowered him to oversee gambling in London, suppressing illegal gaming dens. Given the widespread corruption of the day, it is inconceivable that Neale didn’t make a tidy sum from this role.

Neal Street-CoventGardenAside from his gambling pursuits, Neale was also Master of the Royal Mint until succeeded on his death by Isaac Newton, he founded the first national lottery (based on Venice’s model), laid out Seven Dials, founded a postal service in America and married England’s richest widow. However, despite all the money which, in one way or another, passed through Thomas Neale, he somehow contrived to die insolvent in 1699 but this man will forevermore be remembered on Neal Street and in nearby Neal’s Yard, even if both are spelled wrongly.

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