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 now features a variety of vendors as well as commercial shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs.
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.
In the beginning... (1300 - 1600)
In the early 1300s the Manor of Leadenhall is listed as belonging to Sir Hugh Neville. Within a few years the area around the manor becomes a popular meeting place for first poulterers, and then cheesemongers.
Former Lord mayor Richard 'Dick' Whittington gifts Leadenhall to the City in 1411 and Lord Mayor Simon Eyre replaces the manor hall with a public granary, school and chapel in 1440, as a gift to the citizens of London. The market is enlarged to provide a site for selling poultry, grain, eggs, butter, cheese, herbs and other foodstuffs. Over the next 200 years Leadenhall Market is a centre of commerce and further markets are added for wool, leather and cutlery.
Rebuilding Leadenhall (1600 - 1900)
In 1666 Leadenhall Market suffers only a small amount of damage in the Great Fire. Rebuilding after the fire, the market becomes a covered structure and is divided into the Beef Market, the Green Yard and the Herb Market.
In 1881 the City's architect Sir Horace Jones, who was also the architect of Billingsgate and Smithfield Markets, redesigns Leadenhall. His designs replaced the earlier stone structure with wrought iron and glass - a structure which in 1972 is given Grade II heritage listed status.
Modern market (1900 - today)
The Poultry Market remains at Leadenhall until the 20th century, by which time all shop units are let for the sale of meat, fish or provisions. 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.
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.
Famous Leadenhall: Tom, Dick and Harry Potter
As well as the connection to Dick Whittington, Leadenhall Market has played host to a few other famous names:
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.
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.