Leadenhall Market is a stunning market in the heart of London that has a rich heritage and stunning architecture dating back to the 14th century.

Leadenhall Market started life as a forum in Roman London and there’s been a market on the site since the 14th century. The market actually dates back to 1321. Leadenhall Market has endured changes in use, rebuilding, the blitz and even the Great Fire of London. Originally a meat and game market, it is now home to many boutiques, restaurants, cafes and wine bars.

The present Grade II listed Market building dates back to 1881 and was designed by Horace Jones. Its wrought iron and glass construction superseded the stone market previously created by Lord Mayor of London, Dick Whittington in the 15th century.

Leadenhall Market stands in the middle of Roman Londinium. Underneath its arches and cobblestones lie the remains of the forum and basilica. The first forum at Leadenhall dates from around 70AD, but was rebuilt in 100 AD and was then the largest Basilica Forum north of the Alps, occupying an area larger than that of Trafalgar Square. Its Basilica, which was the most significant public building in a Roman town, was the largest outside Italy. 

The remnants of a pier from the south arcade of the Basilica survive as a conserved ancient monument in the basement of number ninety Gracechurch Street. The pier was revealed when the new market was built between 1880-82.

In 1803, digs in the Leadenhall Street discovered a stunning sample of Roman mosaic artwork, nine and a half feet 6 below the street level. The theme of the mosaic was Bacchus, the god of wine, agriculture, and fertility. Woefully, some mosaics had already been smashed to build a sewer, but what remains now inhabits in the British Museum.

In 1408, the former Mayor Dick Whittington attained the lease of the building, and then the site in 1411. He then gifted it to the City of London. The City of London Corporation has been managing it ever since.

John Croxton designed the original Leadenhall Market in 1440 and was finished in 1449. He extended the original hall into a big rectangular quadrangle, two stories high. The construction comprising battlements and turrets hints that the market could have been fortified, maybe as protection in the event of a shortage of food or some kind of social disturbance.

Beforehand, the market was set up in the streets next to the building. After completion, all trade occurred inside the new arcade. It was decided in 1488 that leather could only be sold from Leadenhall Market.

In the 19th century, the hide and meat market with its disruptive and teeming stalls were unsuitable. Sir Horace Jones was instructed to design a suitable arcade for the poultry market. Jones also designed Smithfield Market, Tower Bridge and Billingsgate Market. His plans replaced the previous stone structure with wrought iron and glass. This is the building that stands today and in 1972 it was given Grade II listed status.

In the 19th century, ‘Old Tom’ was a celebrated character in the Leadenhall market. He was a gander from Belgium who came to England by chance, because of his attraction to one of the female members of his flock. It’s noted that in two days, thirty-four thousand geese were slaughtered in the Market, but Old Tom somehow survived. He became a favourite in the market, even being fed at the inns in the area. After his death in 1835, he was buried on site.

The market has been featured in the Harry Potter series. It was the location of the outside shots of Diagon Alley, the cobblestoned shopping centre of the wizarding world where Hogwarts students stocked up on school supplies like wands and spell books.

London Crime Fiction Books by Paul:


The Carters’: Wars in West London

Family is everything to the Carters’. Alf Carter runs his criminal empire with the help of his two sons Kenny and Billy. But when family is everything, the ties that bind might be the deadliest of all. When Billy Carter should feel everything is before him, including the love of his life it’s taken away when terrifying gangland violence threatens his life.

Bagley’s Lane: Blood On The Streets

After three brutal murders in quick succession. DI Luca Rossi’s catapulted into a world that threatens him and his family’s way of life. With sheer squirm-in-your-seat moments throughout. Bagley’s Lane is a mesmerising, old-fashioned brutal story of loss, obsession and survival.

Love You Till I Die

Billy Pearce is a well-respected heavyweight boxer from London. After his one and only love is taken, his life is thrown into the menace and treachery of London’s criminal underworld. Love You Till I Die is a novel about loyalty and reliability about people that love and care for each other but who, when push comes to shove, will do whatever to protect their own.

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