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”.
Since 1975 the event has been commemorated by an annual May Fayre and Puppet Festival held in Covent Garden on the second Sunday in May.