Friday, 7 June 2013

Royal Exchange

June 7th  According to de Loriol, on this day in 1566, the first stone of the original “Royal Exchange” was laid.  The building was the brainchild of the financier and philanthropist Sir Thomas Gresham, and was modelled on the bourse he had seen in Antwerp.  

Much to the disgust of native Londoners, the architect was a foreigner.  On a related note, a  census taken in the City on this day in 1567 revealed the presence of 
“40 Scots, 428 Frenchmen, 45 Spaniards, 140 Italians, 2030 Dutch, 44 Burgundians, 2 Danes and 1 Liegois”.

The original “Royal Exchange” was burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666.  An eye-witness, one Thomas Vincent, wrote:
“The Royal Exchange itself, the glory of the merchants, is now invaded with much violence.  And when once the fire was entered, how quickly did it run round the galleries, filling them with flames; then descendeth the stairs, compasseth the walks, giving forth flaming volleys, and filleth the courts with sheets of fire.  By and by, down fall all the kings upon their faces, and the greatest part of the stone building after them, with such a noise as was dreadful and astonishing”.

A replacement was built in 1669, and burnt down in 1838; a second replacement, in turn built in 1844.  
The Royal Exchange today - built in 1844

The grasshopper on the top of the building is Gresham’s insignia.

The “Royal Exchange” is visited  on our Friday afternoon walk “Tower to Temple – The Heart of the City”.

Our Friday afternoon walk starts at Tower Hill tube station at 2pm, and finishes at Temple tube station. It lasts approximately 2 hours.

This walk can also be booked privately for other days and times (please note that this particular walk is best experienced on week-days, because the Inns of Court are inaccessible at the week-end)

Reservation is required for both scheduled and private walks. To book a place, please email  or ring 020 8998 3051

Further information about this and our other walks is available on our website

And for updates, news and promotions, why not visit (and 'Like') the Lost City of London Facebook page

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