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Old Compton Street, London

3.3
#1534 of 3,736 in Things to do in London
Old Compton Street is a road that runs east–west through Soho in the West End of London.
The street was named after Henry Compton who raised funds for a local parish church, eventually dedicated as St Anne's Church in 1686. The area in general and this street in particular became the home of Huguenots, French Protestant refugees who were given asylum in England by Charles II in 1681.
By the end of the 18th century, fewer than ten of the houses were without shop fronts. In the middle of the 19th century, while there were some workshops too, as well as restaurants and public houses, the ground floors of most of the houses were still used as shops. The number of people of overseas descent continued to grow and the street became a meeting place for exiles, particularly those from France: after the suppression of the Paris Commune, the poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine often frequented drinking haunts here.
Old Compton Street had its resident curiosity in the form of Wombwell's Menagerie. George Wombwell kept a boot and shoe shop on the street between 1804 and 1810 and, by all accounts, was quite an entrepreneur. Of short statue and an alcoholic, he nonetheless built up three hugely successful menageries from a starting point of two snakes bought at a bargain price. The menageries travelled around England and made him a wealthy man before his death in 1850.
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  • The street is kind of in the business district of Soho, but here all the infrastructure is devoted to entertainment and food. Many different restaurants and cafes with national cuisine of different countries and continents. And the smells are appropriate....) That's cool! The street is named after Henry Compton, who raised funds for the local church - St. Anne in 1686.
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  • Old Compton Street is the Mecca of Gay London. Eat at Balans - its living party. Theres also an amazing wine and sprit sore with an enormous collection. The bars are jammed and fun, and hey, your step...  more »
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