Leadenhall Market: A Historic and Vibrant Destination in London

Leadenhall Market is an iconic destination situated in the heart of London’s City. The marketplace boasts a rich history dating back to Roman times and is currently celebrating its 700th anniversary. Today, the market is a contemporary shopping precinct that features trendy bars, cute cafes, restaurants, and shops.

Visitors to Leadenhall Market can immerse themselves in the historic Victorian-era covered building and experience the market’s unique atmosphere. The marketplace is also a famous Harry Potter filming location, which adds to its charm and appeal. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or a Harry Potter fan, Leadenhall Market has something for everyone.

Key Takeaways

  • Leadenhall Market is a historic marketplace located in the heart of London’s City.
  • The market boasts a rich history dating back to Roman times and is currently celebrating its 700th anniversary.
  • Visitors can enjoy a unique shopping and dining experience in a historic Victorian-era covered building that was also used as a Harry Potter filming location.

The 700+ Year History of Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market has a rich history that dates back to 1321, making it one of London’s oldest markets. The market has always been associated with food, particularly meat, poultry, and game. It is believed that there was a bazaar area in the market since it was the center of Roman London in the 1st century.

Leadenhall Market’s Medieval History

In the 14th century, Hugh Neville owned the Manor of Leadenhall, which was named after the hall’s leaden roof. Poulterers and fishmongers began meeting on the site to trade their meats. The market became a boisterous center of commerce in the City of London, messy, crowded, and lively, quite different from the quaint cobbled environs we see today.

In 1408, the former Lord Mayor, Dick Whittington, acquired the market’s lease and began turning it into a more commercial space. The site was given to the City of London Corporation in 1411 by Dick Whittington, and they have been looking after it ever since.

By the end of the 15th century, the market had introduced a granary, a weighing mechanism for wool, a chapel for the site’s vendors, and a monopoly on the leather trade in the city. Leadenhall had become a well-established center for commerce in London but was partially destroyed in the city’s Great Fire in 1666. When it was rebuilt, it was decided that it would be covered rather than open-air, and it remains like that today.

Leadenhall Market in the Victorian Times: Redesigned by Horace Jones

In 1881, the city architect, Horace Jones, redesigned the market, and it was redeveloped to include wrought iron and glass rather than stone. Much of the ornately decorated interior and cobbled laneways that you see preserved today is from this very redesign, making it one of London’s most gorgeous places.

Old Tom

Of all the characters Leadenhall Market has seen over the years, there’s one in particular that stands out – a curious goose who went by the nickname of Old Tom at the beginning of the 19th century. Old Tom escaped the chop and went on to live to 37 years old, which is pretty impressive whichever way you look at it. Old Tom particularly liked hanging around The Lamb Tavern, one of the market’s long-standing spots, but he was fed by many of the market traders and became something of a market mascot – so much so that you’ll still find references to him in the market today.

Leadenhall Market Today

Today, Leadenhall Market is a vibrant place that includes boutique retailers, restaurants, wine bars, and pubs. It is one of the more popular places for shopping and eating in the City and has added another feature to its name as a popular film set, most recognizably in Harry Potter. Leadenhall Market’s rich history and stunning design make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in London’s past and present.

Leadenhall Market – A Harry Potter Filming Location

Leadenhall Market, with its picturesque Victorian-era laneways, served as a filming location for several movies, including the Harry Potter series. The market was used as the exterior of Diagon Alley, the wizarding world’s shopping hub for Hogwarts’ students, and The Leaky Cauldron, the popular wizarding pub. Apart from Harry Potter, other movies such as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, Hereafter, and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider have also been filmed in the market. Its unique architecture and vibrant atmosphere make it a popular destination for tourists and movie enthusiasts alike.

Best Restaurants in Leadenhall Market

Cheese at Leadenhall

Cheese at Leadenhall is a great place to enjoy a casual lunch with friends. They offer over a hundred artisan cheeses to try along with high-quality wines. The restaurant has laneway seating, which allows customers to sit and watch the world go by while enjoying a platter of cheese, olives, and charcuterie. The restaurant is open from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 8 pm.

Broker’s Wine Bar and Restaurant

Broker’s Wine Bar and Restaurant is the perfect spot for people watching, as it’s situated above the crossroads inside the market. The restaurant offers a bird’s eye view over the bustling market lanes below. They specialize in international wines and also hold a number of events throughout the year from art exhibitions to wine tastings. The restaurant is open from Monday to Friday, from 10 am to late.

Luc’s Brasserie

Luc’s Brasserie is a French brasserie restaurant that offers a great menu of traditional French dishes at reasonable prices. The menu changes seasonally, but the French take on cooking stays the same, honed to a fine art by Luc’s 30 years of experience. The restaurant is closed on Fridays and weekends, but it’s open from Monday to Thursday, from 12 pm to 3 pm and 5 pm to 9 pm.

The Regis Snackbar

The Regis Snackbar has been serving the Leadenhall lunch game for over 90 years. It’s a staple for many people that work in the City of London for various reasons. They offer great sandwiches, baguettes, and wraps that customers can eat in or take away. The restaurant also serves full English breakfasts to get the day going. The portions they serve up are not small, making it a great place to grab some food to put you on for a big day. The restaurant is open from Monday to Friday, from 7 am to 2:30 pm, and it’s closed on weekends.

Giorgio at Leadenhall

Giorgio at Leadenhall is a sophisticated Italian restaurant that prides itself on authentic subterranean food. They offer freshly made pasta and seafood dishes that usually steal the show. The restaurant also has an extensive wine list to match the dishes. The restaurant is open from Monday to Friday, from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm and then 6 pm to 9:30 pm. It’s considered one of the best restaurants in Leadenhall Market.

In summary, Leadenhall Market offers a variety of restaurants that cater to different tastes. Whether you are in the mood for French, Italian, or a quick bite, there is a restaurant for you in Leadenhall Market.

Best Shops in Leadenhall Market

Waterstones Bookstore

Waterstones Bookstore is one of the last remaining specialist bookstore chains in inner London, and it prides itself on outstanding service and exciting bookshop events. The store is open from Monday to Friday, from 8am to 6.30pm. Visitors can sit and ponder some of the latest titles in store, making it a refuge from the crowded market. The bookstore also hosts a number of events and book signings throughout the year.

Windsor Flowers

Established in 1982, Windsor Flowers is a family-run florist that is open from Monday to Friday, from 6.30am to 5pm on Monday and 8.30am to 5.30pm from Tuesday to Friday. It is the preferred supplier for some of the most respected businesses in the area, such as The London Guildhall, Mansion House, and St Paul’s Cathedral. Visitors can poke their head into the store to enjoy vibrant colors and beautiful aromas.

Barbour Clothing

Barbour Clothing is a classic British brand founded in 1894, and it is right at home in the Victorian-era Leadenhall Market. The store is open from Monday to Friday, from 9.30am to 6.30pm. With a brand history going back generations, their iconic and original wax cotton jackets are still top sellers. It’s the epitome of traditional British style.

London City Shoe Shine

For something a little different, visitors can head to London City Shoe Shine. The guys from this shoeshine shop have been shining shoes since 1991 in Leadenhall Market. The store is open from Monday to Friday, from 10am to 4pm. For an authentic Leadenhall experience, visitors can drop off any of their leather or suede to be brushed up by the guys here.

Bars + Pubs in Leadenhall Market

The Lamb Tavern

The Lamb Tavern is a historic bar and restaurant that has been operating since 1790. It spans across three levels with a stunning old interior and serves a variety of meals from traditional British pub favourites to light lunches. The tavern also offers classic real ale to complement the meals. The operating hours are Monday to Friday from 11am to 11pm and Saturday from 10am to 6pm.

Old Tom’s Bar

Old Tom’s Bar is a fully preserved old bar with antique décor located down the stairs from the cobblestone lanes of the market. It is one of the trendier and more boutique Leadenhall Market bars. The bar offers an extensive drinks menu that includes gin, craft beer, and cocktails, as well as old English favourite snacks and light meals. The operating hours are Monday to Friday from 11am to 11pm.


Rocca is a family-run bar that has been in business for over 40 years. It evolved from an Italian grillhouse that the family of Italian immigrants opened in Leadenhall Market back in 1978. Today, Rocca is a welcoming bar that still serves up great Italian wines, beers, and cocktails. The bar also offers a menu of very reasonably priced Italian dishes to enjoy while drinking. The operating hours are Monday 7am to 8pm, Tuesday 7am to 9pm, Wednesday and Thursday 7am to 11pm, Friday 8am to 8pm, and weekends closed.

New Moon Pub

New Moon Pub is one of the more traditional Leadenhall Market pubs. It is an old dark wood bar located on the edge of the covered market. The place is overwhelmingly popular with some patrons preferring to stand outside on a summer evening with their pint rather than battle with the crowds indoors. The operating hours are Monday to Friday from 11am to 11pm, Saturday from 12pm to 7.30pm, and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm.

Leadenhall Market: Practical Tips

Leadenhall Market is a great place to visit during the week if you want to experience the full range of choices offered by its businesses. However, it is open 24/7, so you can still walk through its historic halls on weekends. If you plan on eating at one of the many restaurants in the market, be prepared for a potentially busy experience during lunch and dinner services, as the market services many of the large office buildings in the area. Arriving half an hour before you’re hungry can help ensure that you won’t have to wait too long for a table.