The street runs east from Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square via Haymarket and Wardour Street. It was constructed in 1681 as a throughfare between the two places and was named after the politician Henry Coventry, secretary of state to Charles II.
The street had been designed for commercial and entertainment purposes, rather than a place of residence. The goldsmiths Lamberts were based at Nos. 10-12 Coventry Street in 1803 until the premises were demolished shortly after World War I. Charles Hirsch, a French bookseller, sold French literature and ran a clandestine trade in expensive pornography from his bookshop "Librairie Parisienne" in Coventry Street between 1890 and 1900.
In the 1920s, the street became a centre for nightclubs, attracting clientele such as Edward, Prince of Wales, Rudolph Valentino, Noël Coward, Fred Astaire and Charlie Chaplin. The Café De Paris opened in 1924 in the basement of the Rialto Cinema and became a popular club through the rest of the decade due the owner Martin Poulsen's friendship with the Prince of Wales. On 8 March 1941, the Cafe and much of Coventry Street suffered significant damage from bombing, killing 84 people including Poulsen, though former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, visiting the cafe, survived. It was rebuilt after the war.
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- Hibbert & Weinreb 2010, p. 215.
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