- Royal Exchange (London)
The Royal Exchange in the
City of Londonwas founded in 1565by Sir Thomas Gresham to act as a centre of commercefor the city. The site was provided by the City of London Corporationand the Worshipful Company of Mercers, and is roughly triangular, formed by the converging streets of Cornhill and Threadneedle Street. The design was inspired by a bourseGresham had seen in Antwerp.
The Royal Exchange was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth I who awarded the building its Royal title, on
January 23, 1571.
Gresham's original building was destroyed in the
Great Fire of Londonin 1666. A second exchange was built on the site, designed by Edward Jerman, which opened in 1669, and which was also destroyed by fire in January 1838.During the 17th century, stockbrokers were not allowed in the Royal Exchange due to their rude manners, hence they had to operate from other establishments in the vicinity, like Jonathan's Coffee-House.
The third Royal Exchange building still stands on the site and adheres to the original layout - consisting of a four-sided structure surrounding a central courtyard where merchants and tradesmen could do business. This building was designed by Sir
William Tite, features pediment sculptures by Richard Westmacott (the younger), and was opened by Queen Victoria on October 28, 1844, though trading did not commence until January 1, 1845.
The Royal Exchange ceased to act as a centre of commerce in
1939, although it was for a few years in the 1980s, home to the London International Financial Futures Exchange, LIFFE. It is now a luxurious shopping centre.
Shops in the Royal Exchange include
Hermès, Molton Brown, Paul Smith, Haines & Bonner, Tiffanyand Jo Malone.
The Gresham Grasshopper
The big Gresham Grasshopper can be seen on the Royal Exchange's
weathervane. This commemorates the founder, Sir Thomas Gresham, whose crest it was. The device was later borrowed by Shem Drowneatop the famous Faneuil Hallin Boston, Massachusetts, in imitation of the Royal Exchange.
* [http://www.theroyalexchange.co.uk/ The Royal Exchange London website]
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