Sir Horace Jones
- Original design
- Sir Horace Jones, 1881
The 2018 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2019 programme mid-August.
Leadenhall Market has been a market site since Roman times when it was part of the site of Londinium's forum, the major market for the provincial capital.
In the fourteenth century it became a market place again when the lead roofed mansion which gave the area its name, became a market place for tenants of the Neville family. In 1409 the real life Dick Whittington, Lord Mayor of London, purchased the site and soon after it passed to the Corporation of London who have been running the market for almost six hundred years.
For a period it rivalled Smithfield as a meat and poultry market but in the nineteenth century the hide and meat market were incompatible with the financial city and the City Architect, Sir Horace Jones, was instructed to design a 'respectable arcade' for the poultry market.
The current ornate glass roofed building was constructed in 1881 at a cost of £99,000 though infrastructure works to the surrounding approaches cost a further £148,000. Jones had already designed the City markets at Smithfield and Leadenhall but was influenced at Leadenhall by Mengoni's Victor Emmanuel Galleria in Milan for the design of the new Leadenhall arcade. Its crooked ground plan however reflects the constraint of the medieval rights of way within which Jones had to work.
The style of the building is mixed with its Gracechurch Street frontage designed in the style of 17th Century Dutch houses while the crossing has an octagonal base rising to a square dome. Pevsner, in his 'Buildings of England' comments on the lettering at the entrances “as gloriously commercial as a circus poster” and of the City's “dragons cheekily squeezed in”. There is a wealth of stamped and carved detail picked out in rich colours and many of the shops retain the spiked racks for hanging game.
The market was extensively restored in 1991 and received a special mention in the Civic Trust Awards 1994. The Corporation of London maintains the market in its historic appearance.
Pevsner's 'The Buildings of England' describes the remains of the basilica of the second century Roman forum as “a pier from its south arcade, found in 1987, set over broader masonry foundations, survives in good condition in the basement of no. 90 Gracechurch Street”.
The forum was the commercial centre of Roman Londinium and that of the second century was constructed between AD 120 and AD 125 on the highest part of the City. Its northern side was the great basilica which served as town hall and law courts. It was 170 foot long and was constructed from ragstone with brick bonding courses. The structure had arcades forming aisles and an apse at the eastern end and would resemble a church. It was in fact longer than St Paul's Cathedral and the largest structure of its kind north of the Alps.
The whole complex was demolished in about 300 AD and the pier is now a scheduled ancient monument.