Open House – Leadenhall Market
Over London Open House weekend Tina Baxter and her friend Gina led walks around one of the City of London’s finest buildings – Leadenhall Market
The iconic Leadenhall Market built by Sir Horace Jones in 1881 is a jewel in the City of London’s private tenanted portfolio. Thursday’s it is crammed with city types enjoying ‘Thursday is the new Friday’ at the pubs, bar and restaurants. During the week it is a convenient walk through from one City street to another and has been for centuries.
During Open House weekend it is perfect cross roads to link modern day icons with the Victorian. Easy access to Leadenhall Street to the ‘Cheesegrater’ and the Gherkin, also to Fenchurch Street to the ‘Walkie Talkie’, Monument and Lloyd’s Registry as well as Lloyds of London (sadly not open this year).
The credentials of Leadenhall as a market place go back at least 1500 years, it was built on the site of the Roman Forum and Basilica, remains of which can still be found under the hairdressers, Nicholson & Griffin, not open at the weekends, but welcome visitors during the week. The medieval period, which we know is long, introduced Richard Whittington, Simon Ayers (both Mayors of the City of London) and the footprint of master mason John Croxton’s version of a market, with church, school and granary. Including fortifications to keep out the rabble during times of rationing and famine. Of course, the name of the site comes from a mansion owned by Sir Hugh Neville recorded in 1309, which had a lead roof, hence the naming, who for reasons not known opened his gardens and orchards to ‘foreigners’ to sell their wares, meat, fish and herbs. These folk were not from overseas, they were not Freemen of the City so had to seek special permits to trade. Finally the site was made officially the site for ‘out of towners’ to sell all manner of goods.
There are many other stories to tell ancient and modern, the runaway gander and of course the connection with Harry Potter and other films. We had a great day guiding, staring with 12 people at 10am, and ending up doing walks on the hour up to 2pm, the last walk on Saturday we ended up with 60+! The groups were wonderful, avid listeners who soaked up the history and stories with relish!
There is a plan in progress with the regeneration company involved with Leadenhall to arrange regular walks with the City of London guides during November and December and to continue into 2018. For the time being a couple of dates to note:
22nd October – Nomad Cinema present Harry Potter ‘The Philosophers Stone’
17th November – Lord Mayor turns on the Christmas Lights
22nd November – Christmas Market (W,T,F & Sat)
Look out for the ‘Leadenhall Walk’ by Tina Baxter during November.