Leadenhall Market dates back to the 14th century and is situated in what was the centre of Roman London. Originally a meat, poultry and game market, it is now home to a number of boutique retailers, restaurants, cafes, wine bars and an award-winning pub.
Starting as the site of a manor, Leadenhall has survived changes in use, rebuilding, and even the Great Fire to become a popular destination for city residents, visitors and workers.
Built on the site of a Roman Basilica (Courts) and Forum (Market), Leadenhall was the largest market North of the Alps and occupied an area bigger than that of Trafalgar Square.
After the Romans left, much of London was left in ruins and little is known of Leadenhall’s history throughout this time.
In 1309 the Manor of Leadenhall is first listed as belonging to Sir Hugh Neville. By 1321, the area around Leadenhall manor is now as a known meeting place for poulterers. They are joined, in 1397, by cheesemongers.
In 1408 the former Lord Mayor Richard ‘Dick’ Whittington acquired the lease of the building, and acquires the site in In 1411. It quickly became one of the best places in London to buy meat, game, poultry and fish. The meat and fish market occupied a series of courts behind the grand lead-roofed mansion of Leadenhall Market on Leadenhall Street. The site grows in importance as a granary and a chapel are built to service those coming to the market.
In 1463, the beam for the tronage and weighing of wool is fixed at Leadenhall market, signifying its importance as a centre for commerce. In 1488, it is decided that leather is sold only from Leadenhall Market.
In 1622, cutlery is made available only from Leadenhall Market.
The Great Fire of 1666 destroys much of the City of London, including parts of the market. When it is rebuilt not long after, it becomes a covered structure for the first time and is divided into the Beef Market, the Green Yard and the Herb Market.
Business continued until Leadenhall’s redevelopment in 1881 with the City’s architect, Horace Jones. His designs replaced the earlier stone structure with wrought iron and glass – a structure which in 1972 is given Grade II* listed status. A celebrated character in Leadenhall during the 18th century was ‘Old Tom’, a goose which managed to escape execution even though it is recorded that 34,000 geese were slaughtered there in two days. He became a great favourite in the market and was fed at the local inns. After his death in 1835 at the age of 38, he lay in state in the market and was buried there.
Extensively restored in 1991, Leadenhall Market offers a spectacular Victorian setting with the roof, cobbles and buildings preserved. By the mid-20th century the shops are also being used for general retailing and leisure and by the end of the century Leadenhall Market has evolved into one of the City’s five principal shopping centres.
In 2019 Leadenhall Market continues to provide a wide range of shopping and dining options to it’s visitors. Looking at the beautifully clean and vibrant Victorian buildings of today it’s hard to imagine the noise and smells of a 19th century market, but if you look closely at the shop fronts you will see the wrought iron hooks where produce used to hang.
During the 18th century ‘Old Tom’ was a celebrated character in Leadenhall. He was a gander who managed to escape his fate of being slaughtered along with 34,000 other geese. He became a great favourite in the market, even being fed at the local inns. After his death in 1835 at the age of 38, he lay in state in the market and was buried on site.
HARRY POTTER & MORE
Part of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (the first film in the blockbuster series) was filmed in Leadenhall in 2000/2001. The market was used to represent the area of London leading to the popular wizarding pub The Leaky Cauldron and magical shopping street Diagon Alley.
Leadenhall Market is a popular choice as a filming location and can be seen in many other movies including: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus; Hearafter; and Love Aaj Kal. The pop group Erasure also filmed their music video for Love to Hate You in the market in 1991.
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