Known as the Actor’s Church to avoid confusion with the sodding great Cathedral up the road St Paul’s of Covent Garden was built in 1631 by Inigo Jones. The Earl of Bedford, who commissioned it, asked for nothing more than a barn for his flock but Jones, who liked a bit of Italian, decided to give him ‘the handsomest barn in England..’
He also managed to build it backwards but not because, whatever Lesley says, he was drunk at the time. Jones’s problem was that no self respecting Italianate building in the style of the Northern renaissance could possibly go without its grand portico with the Doric order columns and the big slab of a lintel handing overhead like an accident waiting to happen. But being a Church the altar had to go at the East of the building, which would block any grand entrance from the Piazza.
So Jones, being amongst other things, a theatrical gent, stuck a fake entrance at the East end with the Doric columns and lintels and whatever and put a more a modest but equally nice entrance on the west end for your actual punters to get in. Over the years the portico, mainly because it had a roof, has become a famous location in its own right. It was there that Samuel Pepys saw the first ever recorded Punch and Judy show and that Audrey Hepburn did her flower girl scenes while displaying the worst cockney accent this side of Dick Van Dyke.