May 9th – On this day in 1662, Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary:
“Thence … into Covent Garden to an alehouse … and … to see an Italian Puppet Play, that is within the rayles there, which is very pretty, the best that ever I saw … . So to the Temple and by water home, and … in the dark there played upon my flageolette [a type of flute], it being a fine still evening … ”.
One of the characters in the show that Pepys saw was Pulcinella, now Punch, as in “Punch and Judy”.
In 2012, the 350th anniversary of the performance was marked in Covent Garden by a “Punch and Judy” festival, attracting performers and audiences from all over the world.
The site is passed on our “St Paul’s to Westminster Abbey – Priories, Palaces and Parliament” standard walk.