Situated in the heart of London’s historic financial district (known colloquially as “the City”), Leadenhall Market dates back more than 600 years to when famed Lord Mayor, Richard “Dick” Whittington, gifted Leadenhall to the City in 1411.
Three decades later, Simon Eyre (another Lord Mayor) converted the area into a public granary, school, and chapel as a gift to the citizens of London.
In 1881 the covered market was redesigned by architect Sir Horace Jones. His wrought iron and glass design replaced an earlier stone structure. Today, Jones’ Victorian imprint remains largely intact.
Despite the modern items on sale, the be-suited professionals passing through the markets and the sights and sounds of traffic outside, the market retains much of its 19th century look and feel.
You can find everything from fashion outlets to stationary shops at Leadenhall Market. But food is the main retail ingredient here. And that makes a lot of sense. Back in the 14th century, a meat and fish market existed here. Similarly, the area served as a site for poulterers to meet and cheesemongers to sell as long ago as the 1300s. More in line with contemporary tastes, visitors these days can expect a global array of dining options from burritos and sushi to sandwiches, tapas, pizza and fine chocolate.
As with so many famed London localities, Leadenhall market’s an excellent place to have a drink. There’s a proper old pub along with a couple of impressive wine bars. And one particularly great place for a drink is Old Tom’s Bar, offering a connoisseur’s range of ales served with farm house cheeses and charcuterie.
The bar is named after one of Leadenhall Market’s most celebrated characters from the 18th century, Old Tom. Old Tom was a goose who managed to escape slaughter and went on to become a sort of mascot for the market and beloved by all the vendors. After his death in 1835 at the age of 38, he lay in state in the market and was buried where the bar named in his honour is today.
Whether heading out for a quick lunch break, catching up with friends for a drink, or simply satisfying the need for office supplies or something from the green grocer, Leadenhall Market is well worth checking out. And when you do be sure to look up and marvel at Sir Horace Jones’ ornate Victorian masterpiece.
For more on the history of Leadenhall Market and details of what’s happening there now, visit www.leadenhall-market.co.uk.
Photo credit: Chris Osburn (author)