The Royal Stock Exchange, the historic London Stock Exchange

Thomas Gresham, who founded the London Stock Exchange in 1565, was impressed by the Antwerp Stock Exchange. Gresham had a store on Lombard Street.

The site was donated by the City of London Corporation and the Worshipful Company of Mercers, who currently still control it jointly. It has a trapezoidal shape and is bordered by Cornhill and Threadneedle Street, which meet at the junction of Bank in the city centre.

Gresham’s building was adorned with grasshopper emblems modified from the family crest, and within were corridors such as the Grocers’ Walk, Silkmen’s Walk, and Druggists’ Walk.

Following Elizabeth I’s visit in January 1570, the Stock Exchange was renamed the Royal Stock Exchange, and it was in this capacity that Gresham famously toasted a toast to the Queen with a glass of wine containing a diamond.

The stock exchange became one of the places where new kings and queens were officially declared, but after a brief period of prosperity, it devolved into a haven for prostitutes and crime.

After the Royal Exchange was destroyed in the fire of 1666, Christopher Wren proposed a structure that would be the focal point of the new city, but the idea, like most of its plans, was abandoned. The structure was damaged by fire again in 1837 and had to be rebuilt.

The modern Stock Exchange, immediately identified by its massive portico of eight Corinthian columns constructed by William Tite in 1842, remained open until 1939, when commercial operations halted. The Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance Company thereafter took over the building.

In 2001, the previous building structure was transformed into a retail mall with upscale boutiques such as Fortnum & Mason; certain design shops are now housed within its ancient walls.

Once inside, climb one of the corner staircases and go around the balcony to see the paintings from late 1666 that adorn each wall niche and reflect significant events in the city’s history. This is not to be mistaken with the London Stock Exchange, which is located near St Paul’s Cathedral.



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