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Royal Exchange

Royal Exchange (56)

Facing the Bank of England, what was once the home of the London Stock Exchange until 1939 is today the site of a luxurious shopping centre. Founded in 1565 by Thomas Gresham, it is the oldest institution in the City. It was created to centralise the commercial operation in the city.

The original building was constructed as an exact replica of those that housed the Stock Exchanges of Antwerp and Venice. It consisted essentially of a large central courtyard surrounded by galleries in which the business was carried out between traders. On being officially opened by Queen Elizabeth I in 1570 it was given the title of “royal”.

Like many of the buildings in the City area, the original headquarters of the Stock Exchange was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1666, only to be quickly rebuilt. The project was entrusted to the architect Edward Jerman. However, Jerman’s work, which opened in 1669, was not destined to last and was once again destroyed by flames in 1838.

The building you can see today is the work of William Tite and was completed in 1844, the year in which it was opened by Queen Victoria. Of great elegance and beauty, the neoclassical portico of Tite’s building is supported by Corinthian columns over which we can see a pediment with diverse sculptures by Richard Westmacott, among which features an allegorical representation of Commerce.

Although it ceased to operate as a stock Exchange in 1939 and is today known for being the place where you will find exclusive shops with labels such as Hermès or Paul Smith, during the 80s the Royal Exchange was used as the headquarters of another economic institution: the London International Financial Futures Exchange.

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