Address: Threadneedle Street, London EC3V 3LL

Website

Phone: 0207 618 2480

350m from Cannon Street

100m from Bank

The Royal Exchange was the brainchild of London Merchant Sir Thomas Gresham. In 1565 he offered to build a ‘comely bourse’ based on the Antwerp Stock Exchange if a site could be provided. Gresham’s idea was to have a trading floor, offices and shops surrounding a central courtyard where merchants and tradesmen could meet and carry out business.

The project went ahead and on 23rd January 1571, Queen Elizabeth I opened it, awarding it Royal status and naming it the Royal Exchange. It was soon a hive of activity and fully justified Gresham’s reasoning.

In 1666 the Great Fire of London destroyed the building, but by now it was of such importance that it was quickly rebuilt with King Charles II laying the foundation stone, this being witnessed by diarist Samuel Pepys.

This second Royal Exchange was completed in 1669 with most of the property being occupied by insurance firms Lloyds and Royal Exchange Assurance. It traded successfully for 170 years before fire struck again in 1838. As with the previous setback, new plans were soon drawn up, with the new design following, pretty much, the original design. It was designed by William Tite. Prince Albert laid the foundation stone and Queen Victoria opened the third Exchange in 1844. A statue of the Duke of Wellington on a horse was unveiled and remains today.

A large collection of paintings were hung in 1892, portraying the history of the Exchange and these can be seen today. In 1991 the building was refurbished, being reopened by Queen Elizabeth II. Further development in 2001 saw a string of luxury shops incorporated.

The building can be found today between Threadneedle Street and Cornhill.

For the discerning traveller and historian, this area provides some of the best London sites.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.