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Leadenhall Market Guide, A London 14th-Century Covered Marketplace

Last Updated on 18th May 2021 by Sophie Nadeau

Ancient, covered, and dating all the way back to the 14th-century Leadenhall Market remains a firm fixture in the London landscape, just as it has done so for centuries. Located in the very heart of the ancient City of London, here’s a quick guide to the market, the best time to go, and a history of Leadenhall.

Address |Leadenhall Market, Gracechurch Street, London EC3V 1LT

Closest Tube Stations | Bank, Monument (Zone 1)

Leadenhall Market print from 1881

Leadenhall market interior, 1881 via Wikipedia

What is Leadenhall Market famous for?

Leadenhall Market is best-known for being the site of a market since the Middle Ages. Ever since the 14th-century, Leadenhall was originally a meat and poultry market. Prior to that, it was the site of Roman London, which was referred to in antiquity as ‘Londinium’. Today, the bustling covered arcade is home to all manner of independent shops, restaurants, and boutiques.

A history of Leadenhall Market

Established in 1321, where the hall now stands was the very epicentre of Roman London. Known as ‘Londinium’ during this era, vestiges of the city’s Imperial Roman past can still be found throughout the UK capital today. You can always visit the Guildhall, where the amphitheatre once stood, or admire the large expanse of the ruinous defensive wall beside Tower Hill Tube station.

Alternatively, the modern and interactive Temple of Mithras is newly opened and free to visit, though you’ll need to book your ‘free’ tickets in advance. Check the London Mithraeum website for further information on how to visit here.

Back at Leadenhall Market, the current building you see today was erected during the Victorian era, hence the cobbled lanes, bold colours, and intricate metalwork. It was around this time that Roman ruins were found in the form of several mosaics. These are now housed within the British Museum.

Leadenhall Market Guide, A London 14th-Century Covered Marketplace in the City of London, London, England

However, there has been a market on site since at least the 14th-century, making Leadenhall one of the oldest markets in all of London. Although no one is quite sure as to the origins of the name, ‘Leadenhall’ may well be a derivative of ‘Leather Hall’. Other theories suggest that the name is a result of it being a ‘lead manor house’ thanks to a lead roof.

Prior to the reconstruction of 1881, the market hall would have looked very different! Instead of the maroon shades and metal framework, the market was likely held in the grounds of a manor house that has obviously since been demolished.

Leadenhall Market print of London

Entrance to Leadenhall Market, 1861 via Wikipedia

When to visit Leadenhall Market

Located on Gracechurch Street, unlike much of London, Leadenhall truly comes to life during the week when nearby office workers head to the covered marketplace throughout the day for drinks, snacks, and to catch up with colleagues. The shops, florists, and bars generally operate between 10 AM and 6 PM on weekdays.

As a result, if you’re looking to get the best photos of the market (i.e. ones without all the people!) then you should instead visit the hall during the weekend, earlier in the day if possible. Other pedestrian access can be found at various points around the sprawling structure and while shops are only open at certain hours, access to the covered arcades is available 24/7!

Leadenhall Market Guide, A London 14th-Century Covered Marketplace in the City of London, London, England Leadenhall Market Guide, A London 14th-Century Covered Marketplace in the City of London, London, England

Leadenhall Market and the Harry Potter Connection

For fans of the wizarding world, and more specifically the Harry Potter movies, Leadenhall Market likely needs no introduction. Within the Potter films, the covered Victorian walkway features as the entry point to Diagon Alley. Other movies to have been filmed within the walls of Leadenhall include The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

If you’re looking for more magical inspiration in the UK capital, here’s a guide to the best of Harry Potter locations in London. And for those who prefer guided walking tours, there’s always the chance to go on a wizarding-inspired walk through the city. For example, this three-hour Harry Potter landmarks tour will take you through many of the locations that inspired both the films and the books!

secret spots in London you'll love: Leadenhall Market

Nearby attractions to Leadenhall Market

The City of London square mile has no shortage of historical, fun, and unique things to do. From enjoying coffee in the porch of a church to following in the footsteps of Roman London, there are plenty of things to do near Leadenhall Market:

St Mary Woolnoth: For those who enjoy wandering around beautiful churches followed by a coffee and a slice of cake, a visit to St Mary Woolnoth is an absolute must. This early 18th-century ecclesiastical building is constructed in the beautiful Baroque style, and in the entryway, you’ll soon discover an independent café.

St Mary Woolnoth Church and Coffee Shop, City of London, London, England

St Dunstan in the East: Though much more of a secret London attraction just a few years ago than it is today, St Dunstan in the East is now a public garden and all that remains of a 17th-century Christopher Wren renovated church. Today, the quiet green space is an oasis in the heart of an area otherwise filled with towering skyscrapers and cobbled lanes.

Monument to the Great Fire of London: If you’ve ever studied London history then no doubt you’ll have heard of the Great Fire of London. A 16th-century great fire that allegedly started in Pie Lane and ravaged throughout the city, destroying most of the wooden buildings in the process, the Monument stands as a memorial to this tragic event. Today, for just a few pounds, you can climb the spiralling stairs to the top, where you’ll be rewarded with one of the best views of London!

Enjoyed reading this guide to Leadenhall Market, London’s Victorian hidden gem of an arcade? Pin it now, read it again later:

Leadenhall Market Guide, How to visit A London 14th-Century Covered Marketplace in the City of London, London, England that was once the heart of Roman London

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