There are plenty of famous market halls in London, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more stunning one than Leadenhall Market in the eastern City. Constructed in the Victorian Era, the beautiful architecture wouldn’t be out of place in a regal palace and has been used as a location in plenty of films.
I can’t believe that it took me eight trips to London to actually check out this magnificent place. I suggest you don’t make the same mistake and put it on your list for your next visit to London. Read on for everything you need to know about visiting beautiful Leadenhall Market.
History of Leadenhall Market
A food market has been established on this place in the 14th century, although you could trace its history as a public meeting and trading place back even further, as it stands on the place of Roman London’s Forum and the streets surrounding the market follow the old Roman roads.
After more than 500 years of continual existence, the decision was made to refurbish the market in the 19th century, which led to the construction of the wonderful arcade you can visit today.
Nowadays, smart shops and cafés have taken the place of the food vendors, and the place likely is considerably cleaner, quieter and less chaotic than it used to be a few hundred years back. Still, traces of the place’s history as a food market can still be seen by observant visitors.
Visiting Leadenhall Market
Stepping into the covered arcade of Leadenhall Market feels a little bit like traveling back in time. To see what I mean, just take a look at the western gateway of the market along Gracechurch Street. The entrance to the arcade imitates dutch merchant houses from the 17th century, which sit incongruously between modern glass-and-concrete office towers.
Traversing the arcades with their cute shopfronts and bright skylights feels quite unreal, especially if you come here in the morning or evening to avoid the masses of people taking selfies. The current appearance of the arcade dates to the 1880s, when it was refurbished by Victorian architect Horace Jones.
When exploring the market, don’t forget to look up once in a while, to check out the ceiling decoration, like the central dome imitating a starry night sky. Apart from that, there are many cute architectural details, which can be spotted by observant visitors, including small decorative silver dragons flanking the arcs of the entranceways.
Leadenhall Market as a Filming Location
The striking apperance of Leadenhall Market has led to its being featured in a multitude of movies, from Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” to Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter”. Its most famous appearance arguably was as the gateway to Diagon Alley in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone“.
While visiting London, Harry and Hagrid walk through the market arcade and out the southern gate on Lime Street Passage, before walking into the Leaky Cauldron Pub. To find the entrance to the fictional Pub, follow their steps by exiting the market through the southern gateway and turn right into Bull’s Head Alley.
The door is the one of Number 4, which nowadays seems to serve as a Migraine Clinic. I guess Harry Potter wouldn’t be completely out of place here, considering his frequent headaches radiating from his scar.
How to get to Leadenhall Market
The closest tube station is Monument on the District and Circle Line. From there, it’s a 5-minute walk north along Gracechurch Street to get to the western entrance to the market hall.
Is there an Entrance Fee to Leadenhall Market?
Nope – Leadenhall Market is one of many great attractions in London that are completely free.
Leadenhall Market Opening Times
Obviously, the businesses close at night and most of them only open during the week, but there are no opening times for the arcade and Leadenhall market can be visited 24/7.
This also means that visiting on the weekend or in the evening/early morning gives you a chance to experience the place without masses of other people around.
Restaurants and Pubs in Leadenhall Market
While it might not be the cheapest place in London to grab some food or a drink, it’s certainly one of the most atmospheric spots. If you feel peckish while visiting the market, you have plenty of options, from the Italian bistro ‘Rocca’ to the gastropubs like the ‘Lamb Tavern’ or the ‘New Moon’.