There’s something special about a bustling, modern-day market within the confines of centuries’-old architecture. It’s the perfect picture of how history persists, and destinations transform. Times may change, but some things just have that magical staying power.
Stepping into the cobblestoned streets of Leadenhall Market in London feels like something out of a movie set. That’s because it acted as the set of Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron in the Harry Potter movies. It’s where the characters went to shop for their magical school supplies, spell books and wands.
Wander down the path leading through Bull’s Head Passage, and you may find the blue door of an optics shop that looks familiar if you’re a fan of the films. At the time of filming, it was an empty shop, perfect for the set of the Leaky Cauldron in the fourth movie. While none of the alleys and doors lead you to a magical world, adventuring through the market’s streets comes close to it.
Built as far back as the 14th century and reconstructed in 1881, this Victorian market is one of the oldest in London. But its foundation dates even farther back than that. When the Romans began conquering Britannia in 43 CE, their reach stretched into the land that now stands as Leadenhall Market. Before it was London’s oldest market, it was the site of the Roman Londinium, where they established a Forum and Basilica. Leadenhall Street, Bishopsgate and Cheapside all follow old Roman routes.
By 1600, Leadenhall had become a thriving food market. This is where everyone came to bargain for poultry, cheese, eggs, butter and other foods, as well as leather, wool and cutlery. Its 19th-century rebuild gave the building its signature red and green roof over intricate arches. Today, Leadenhall continues to be a lively marketplace, bursting with restaurants, pubs and shopping boutiques.
Throughout the year, Leadenhall hosts seasonal events, like holiday festivals and art exhibitions. It also holds ongoing tours, like the Legends of Leadenhall, a series of fictional stories based in history, and spooky ghost walks at night, where you learn sinister tales about witchcraft and other eerie happenings.
Explore the streets of the historic Leadenhall Market with overnights in London on the following luxe-adventure voyages.
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