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Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market in London

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Nestled amid the towering structures of the City, Leadenhall Market invites visitors on a fantastic journey back in time to explore Victorian England.

Its iconic glass and wrought-iron galleries have been the backdrop for a host of famous films… including, of course, Harry Potter!

Follow the guide to discover this hidden gem in the heart of the City.


Contents:
👉 Leadenhall Market at a Glance
👉 Exploring Leadenhall Market (Architecture, Shops & Restaurants, Harry Potter Highlights)
👉 Visitor Information

💡 The Captain’s Tips 💡

Want to know more about the history of London? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the capital. The tip you leave is entirely up to you!

Looking for a hotel in London? Be sure to check out the Captain’s article: Where to stay in London? Tips & Recommendations.

Leadenhall Market at a Glance

While Leadenhall Market today occupies a stunning Victorian building from the 19th century, its history stretches back much further.

Roman Period
1st Century AD – 5th Century AD

With origins dating back to Roman times, Leadenhall Market is indeed one of the oldest in the capital (which boasts several historic markets, such as Covent Garden, Spitalfields Market, and Borough Market).

During ancient Rome, the current market site was the forum — the public square — where locals gathered for political or judicial matters and, of course, to trade.


Middle Ages

Leadenhall Market officially came into existence in 1321. Initially specializing in the sale of poultry and game, it gradually expanded to include vendors of other foodstuffs (meat, butter, cheese, grains, fish) as well as leather and wool.

In 1411, Leadenhall Market became the property of the City of London Corporation and remains so to this day.


17th Century

By the 17th century, Leadenhall Market had become a bustling hub for Londoners. It was so central to city life that a school and chapel were built on the site.

In 1666, the market was partially destroyed in the Great Fire of London, which ravaged the city. It was subsequently rebuilt as a covered market.


18th Century

The Lamb Tavern opened its doors and remains one of the most iconic pubs in London today.


19th Century

The Leadenhall Market we know today is the work of architect Sir Horace Jones, famous for designing Tower Bridge. His aim was to transform the market into a major tourist attraction – a goal he successfully achieved!

The original stone building was replaced by a glass and wrought-iron structure. The market’s popularity led to rapid expansions.


20th Century

Throughout the 20th century, the market diversified, welcoming a variety of retail shops.


Today

Leadenhall Market’s stunning Victorian decor has been featured in numerous films, including the legendary Harry Potter series.

Today, the market is a popular spot for City workers and tourists alike, who come to enjoy a tasty meal, a pint, or a shopping spree beneath its iconic Victorian glass roof.

🐤 Old Tom, the Market Mascot 🐤

In the 19th century, a gander from Belgium repeatedly escaped the butcher’s knife at Leadenhall Market. This lucky goose, named Old Tom, became a beloved mascot for the market’s merchants, who cared for and fed him until his death at the ripe old age of 38.

Today, a bar named Old Tom’s Bar honors his memory. A commemorative plaque nearby pays tribute to this one-of-a-kind goose.

Exploring Leadenhall Market

After this brief overview of the iconic London market’s history, it’s time to dive in! What should you see and do at Leadenhall Market? Come along—let’s explore!

The Architecture of Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market has become a must-visit spot for those passing through the English capital, largely due to its stunning Victorian architecture.

The market is housed under a beautiful wrought-iron and glass roof inspired by Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The cobblestone lanes are lined with shops featuring charming brown and cream-painted façades.

Take a moment to admire the impressive main entrance on Gracechurch Street. With its red bricks and narrow gables, it reflects the Dutch style popular in the 17th century.

The market is full of breathtaking architectural features: its dome and grand lantern, wrought-iron columns adorned with dragons, and the ornate shopfronts. It’s truly a feast for the eyes.

Shops & Restaurants

Today, Leadenhall Market boasts around twenty diverse bars and restaurants, as well as a dozen shops.

It’s the perfect place for a foodie break after exploring nearby landmarks like the Tower of London or Tower Bridge. There’s no shortage of options, with a variety of cuisines to choose from: Argentine, Lebanese, Korean, burgers, and snacks of all kinds. The market offers both upscale and casual spots. The choice is yours!

You’ll also find several pubs where you can enjoy a pint in true London fashion, including the iconic Lamb Tavern, which has been open since 1780.

Leadenhall Market

As for shops, Leadenhall Market still hosts some traditional food vendors (cheesemongers, butchers), along with clothing stores (such as Barbour and Hobbs), a florist, and a bookshop.

Leadenhall Market at Christmas

If you’re visiting London in the weeks leading up to Christmas, be sure to stop by Leadenhall Market. The shops in this famous Victorian market are decked out in festive decorations, creating a spectacular sight!

Harry Potter & Leadenhall Market

Fans of the famous wizard with glasses will recognize Leadenhall Market as one of the filming locations for the Harry Potter movies. It was here that scenes for Diagon Alley were shot. J.K. Rowling, the author of the series, is said to have drawn inspiration from Leadenhall Market for the famous wizarding shopping street.

Head to Bull’s Head Passage and stop in front of the blue door of the optician’s shop. Does it look familiar? This store — unoccupied at the time — served as the set for the famous Leaky Cauldron!

⚡ Are you a Harry Potter fan? Check out this selection of the best tours and activities related to the famous wizard.

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Visitor Tips

Getting to Leadenhall Market

Head to the heart of the City, just a stone’s throw from the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Sky Garden, and the Gherkin. While the main entrance to the market is on Gracechurch Street, you can also enter via Whittington Avenue or Lime Street.

The nearest public transports options are:

  • Tube: Monument (Circle and District lines), Bank (Central, Northern, Waterloo & City lines), Aldgate (Circle and Metropolitan lines), and Moorgate (Northern, Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines).
  • Bus: Routes 25, 35, 47, 48, 149, 344, 388.

Leadenhall Market Hours

Leadenhall Market is open 24/7, but most shops and restaurants operate from 10 AM to 6 PM, the peak hours in the bustling City.

If you enjoy a lively atmosphere, it’s best to visit Leadenhall Market during the week. On weekends, especially Sundays, the market is much quieter as City workers are off, and most shops and restaurants are closed.

👉 Skip the lines: book your tickets and visits in advance!

👉 Find the perfect place to stay in London!


👉 Looking for recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ top tips for London!

🛏️ Accommodation: Hotels.com + Captain Ulysses’ detailed article: “Where to Stay in London?”

🎟️ Activities: GetYourGuide | Civitatis | Tiqets.

🎫 Citypasses: London Explorer Pass | London Pass

🚐 Transfers : Airport transfers

🚌 Local Transportation: Hop-on hop-off buses (with audio guide)

✈️ Getting to London: by plane: Skyscanner | by train : Eurostar


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