I had an awesome day today visiting Leadenhall Market with some very good friends who made it all the more a merrier experience. Visiting Leadenhall Market has been on my London Do-List for a while and I was saving it for Christmas. Although I have lived in London for a very, very long time and I have been to this area several times, somehow, I never quite made it to this historic place. I am indeed very happy that I did today 😊
What is special about Leadenhall Market?
- It’s history!
Leadenhall Market has a history dating back to Roman London in the 14th century, where its origin was as a meat, poultry and game market. Its use has gone through many changes over the centuries and most importantly it survived the Great Fire in London in 1666. More recently, in 1991, Leadenhall Market underwent extensive renovations but the eye-catching Victorian architecture of brightly painted wrought iron beams of the main roof was preserved.
It is a large covered area which has evolved to be a modern retail hub, providing a wide range of shopping and a variety of dining options.
Visiting this beautifully clean and vibrant Victorian setting at Christmas is even more special. It is lit-up bright with Christmas lights and a 20-foot high Christmas tree takes the centre-stage of this Victorian market setting.
Looking at it today, shoppers with Christmas shopping bags, modern dining, Christmas crafts, music and the aroma of mulled wine, it is hard to imagine the smell of meat and poultry that this Victorian market once was!
- The Shoe-shiners of Leadenhall Market
I was fascinated to discover that Leadenhall Market is home to talented actors who run the London City Shoe Shine Co. in between their engagements. They have been shining shoes in this Victorian setting since 1991, come rain or shine! Although, if the leather shoes are wet on a rainy day, you will probably not find the shoe-shiners sitting at their station – wet leather cannot be polished!
They work in pairs and I suppose this afternoon was no different to any other, where there was a steady flow of customers, mostly regulars, I suspect, as Leadenhall Market is situated in the centre of the banking industry and bankers were traditionally their most regular customers. I saw a window of opportunity to steal a quick chat with them, with an assurance that they remain anonymous. It was an interesting chat, one of them have an upcoming role in a movie while the other is involved mainly in theatre performances. Soon, two customers arrived, and I stayed to watch briefly. I was captivated with the use of the old-fashioned shine-box method – where the customer raises one foot onto the footplate for it to be shined and then the other shoe gets done afterwards. These modest shoe shiners exuded a relaxed sense of style and their buoyant energy in a carefully crafted skill of vigorous hand-movement, first brush, then focusing on the toe for extra shine – a pair of shiny shoes will always set a man apart as a man that knows how to take care of himself – appearance matters! Definitely! Don’t you think so?
In any case, this was a memorable experience for me as this sort of traditional and artistic endeavours are rare these days and it seems befitting to the Victorian architectural atmosphere that exists in the Market.
- Popular filming location
For the ardent Harry Potter fans, you will be delighted to know that part of the first blockbuster of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was filmed here. At Leadenhall Market in 2000/2001. This was another reason why Leadenhall Market was one of my top-things to do this Christmas. My kids and I were loyal fans of the Harry Potter series and, although my kids have gone on Harry Potter tours, I have not. For those who watched the first blockbuster movie, you will recall the area of London which led to the wizarding pub, the magical shopping street of Diagon Alley and the Leaky Couldron – Leadenhall Market was used to represent this area of London in the movie.
Leadenhall Market has also been used as a filming location in other movies for example:
- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy;
- The Imaginarium of Doctor Pernassus;
- Love Aaj Kal
There is a good range of shops here and you can explore top brand names such as Barbour, Reiss, Hobbs and many more.
To soak-up the festive atmosphere and for a taste of City-folks lifestyle, head over here to experience from either fine dining, mid-range dining or to take-aways and sandwiches. There is Cheese of Leadenhall for cheese lovers and for wine lovers, the Brokers Wine Bar is an excellent choice.
This vibrant Victorian architectural masterpiece is a “Must-see” for any visitor to London – the cobbles and the sparkling clean intricate iron-works will have you in awe, for sure 😊
Opening hours – Public areas are open 24/7 for 7-days a week.
For shops and restaurants, opening hours varies, please check individual stores.
Address: Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 1LT
Trains – London Fenchurch Street Station (8-minute walk)
London Cannon Street Station (8-minute walk)
Liverpool Street Station (13-minute walk)
Moorgate Station (13-minute walk)
Underground – Monument Station (4-minute walk)
Bank Station (6-minute walk)
Aldgate Station (8-minute walk)
Moorgate Station (13-minute walk)