It turns out that one of the oldest markets in London also doubles as the stage for one of the oldest settings in the Harry Potter films - and fans can, indeed, visit. It's no secret that many places throughout England were perfect for setting the scene in these magical films and did so incredibly well. There's an air of magic in a place that has so much history and architectural wonder, and the city of London is arguably one of the greatest in the world for both.
There's one location, in particular, that appeals to both Potterheads as well as history buffs, and that would be none other than Leadenhall Market. With an origin that dates all the way back to the 14th century, it's incredible to know that this market is still standing, let alone operating. And the best part? Its ornate halls were featured quite prominently in the wizarding movies that changed the world for the better.
A Brief History Of Leadenhall Market
This indoor market's cobblestone walkways made for a perfect setting in the Harry Potter films but in real life, it's a fully operating market. Visitors will be delighted to find a number of award-winning pubs as well as family-friendly restaurants, and more shopping than one would expect in such an antique building. Simply walking down the halls of this market is an experience in itself, and its history seems to come to life through its ornate architectural detailing.
Although the market was renovated in 1881 (which explains many of its more Victorian-era features) it originated back in what would have been Roman-era London, during the 14th century. During this time, the market strictly sold meat, poultry, and game, as there was no need to have retail shopping - nor did that exist yet. The building itself was built atop a Roman Basilica and some of the earliest examples of mosaic flooring from that era were taken from the site of the market and donated to British Museum. During this time, it was known as the largest market just north of the Alps, and, according to Leadenhall Market's website, covered square footage that was far more than even Trafalgar Square.
Originally, the market was known as a manor before undergoing many changes before it became what it is today. The biggest undertaking followed the Great Fire, which nearly destroyed the market were it not for the renovation efforts during the 19th century to restore it. Its location in London's present-day Financial District makes it an incredibly popular place to shop and grab a bite to eat.
Also Known As Diagon Alley
Leadenhall Market may have started out as having one purpose during the Roman era, but it certainly evolved to mean far more to the city of London. It wasn't until the early 1990s that the market saw a surge in eateries and shops following a final restoration in 1991; this also caught the attention of many filmmakers. The market's stunning Victorian features, including cobbles and intricate roof structure, have been the setting for many movies, including The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Hereafter, and Love Aaj Kal. However, the most famous film that utilized its halls was none other than Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
This was the very first movie in what would soon become a seven-movie series, and several locations throughout Leadenhall Market were used and are still easily recognized by fans today. The market, and its normally busy walkways, were used to create an atmosphere when Harry Potter and Hagrid begin their walk to The Leaky Cauldron. The interior of the market and its many passageways were used as the inspiration for Diagon Alley, which, as many fans will notice, has a very similar atmosphere. While watching the movie, fans with a keen eye can probably pick out the exterior scenes that were shot just outside of Leadenhall Market as Harry takes in Diagon Alley for the first time.
Inside of the market, fans will be delighted to know that the blue door that marks the entrance of an optics shop down Bull's Head Passage still exists, and can be seen in person today. Why is this so significant? It was the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in the Goblet of Fire. This entrance also doubled as the main entryway through which witches and wizards gained access to Diagon Alley - however, in real life, it will only lead to the optics shop. Sorry, Muggles!
Leadenhall Market Hours & Address
- Hours: The market is open 24/7, with individual shops and restaurants operating on their own hours.
- Address: London, England, EC3V, United Kingdom