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Leadenhall Market’s history can be traced back to the medieval era and today its shops and eateries are housed amid a stunning example of Victorian architecture.
The market is just a few moments’ walk from Monument Underground station and is also conveniently located for the overground at nearby Fenchurch Street.
Here, we take a look at the history of Leadenhall Market and what it has to offer today from high-end boutiques to mouth-watering eateries.
The history of Leadenhall Market
Leadenhall was given to the city of London by then-mayor Richard Whittington – the historical figure behind children’s favourite Dick Whittington – back in 1411. The area had been a popular meeting place for local people to sell chickens, eggs and homemade cheese from as early as 1300, with the wares being sold at the early market growing to include wool and leather goods over the following 200 years.
The market survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 relatively unscathed and continued to be used as a major trading centre for meat and herbs until the 1800s.
In 1881, Leadenhall Market underwent a dramatic makeover, with architect Sir Horace Jones designing the impressive structure that the market still houses today, which has since been awarded Grade II-listed status.
Up until the mid-20th century, the market continued to thrive on the sales of poultry and fish, but in the latter part of the 1900s, a mix of independent and high street retailers moved into the site, many of which remain to this day.
Leadenhall Market today
Today, Leadenhall Market continues to be a buzzing shopping centre, although it’s a far cry from the sights, smells and sounds of the bustling medieval poultry market that it once was.
Leadenhall Market houses a range of independent and well-known retail names, including high-end fashion stores Reiss and Hobbs, while there are gift shops aplenty where tourists can pick up a souvenir for their loved ones back home with Oliver Sweeney and Waterstones outlets, while beautiful bouquets are available from Windsor Flowers.
Visitors can also treat themselves to a luxury haircut at Chequers Hair and Beauty Salon or stock up on pampering essentials at Diptyque Paris.
Bars and restaurants
There are also plenty of places to enjoy a bite to eat or a drink at Leadenhall Market. Harking back to its days as a popular meeting place for cheesemongers, Cheese@Leadenhall stocks more than 200 different types of cheese.
Old Tom’s Bar is a hidden delight in the area, located down a flight of stairs that’s easy to miss, unless you know where to look close to Aldgate Underground station. The venue specialises in meat, cheese and ales, with its platters featuring a variety of delicatessen delights particularly popular.
Diners can create their own meat and cheese board to share from a wide choice, which includes such delicacies as 14-month matured Butcher’s Secret Cheddar and Tornegus, which is a strong cheese encased in a sticky orange rind, flavoured with herbs.
Chamberlain’s is another great place to dine at Leadenhall, with the three-floor venue specialising in seafood and enjoying a close relationship with the nearby Billingsgate Fish Market, meaning diners can be sure their meals are as fresh as can possibly be.
The Scottish lobster served with herb mayonnaise and creme fraiche is particularly special or try the fish of the day from Billingsgate. Meaty options are also available, with highlights including calve’s liver served with smoked bacon and sage butter, as well as Yorkshire grouse breast, which comes served with foie gras, black cabbage and a shallot jus.
For those with a sweet tooth, the dessert menu features a gorgeous pear tart with blackberry sorbet and the lemon cheesecake with lemon sorbet and lemon curd is a delight for the tastebuds. And for those who are still hungry but have more of a savoury palate, the dessert menu also features Welsh Rarebit, made with Guinness mustard.
Leadenhall Market in popular culture
The historic architecture of Leadenhall Market and the surrounding streets means it has been used as a filming location many times over the years, arguably most notably as part of the Harry Potter franchise. In the Philosopher’s Stone movie, Harry and Hagrid are seen walking down a London street towards The Leaky Cauldron pub before the boy wizard enters the magical Diagon Alley for the first time, and that scene was in fact shot at Leadenhall Market.
It’s also appeared in films and on television several other times, with Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft seen racing through the market on her motorbike in the action-packed film and it’s featured as a filming location for the much-loved London-based soap opera Eastenders as well.