The Royal Exchange

c3ce7-grasshopperroyalexchangeJune 7th –  According to de Loriol, on this day in 1566, the first stone of the original “Royal Exchange” was laid.  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”.

Gresham

Gresham

The exchange, modelled on the bourse in Antwerp, was the brainchild of the City financier and philanthropist Sir Thomas Gresham (1519-79) (see also further Gresham postings here and here).  Incidentally, Gresham also founded Gresham College, by bequest.  He is buried in the church of St Helen, Bishopsgate.

The old Royal Exchange

The old Royal Exchange

The building 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”.

The new Royal Exchange

The new Royal Exchange

A replacement was built in 1669, and burnt down in 1838; a second replacement, in turn built in 1844. The grasshopper on the top of the building is Gresham’s insignia.

The site is passed on a number of our standard walks and themed specials.

Gresham's grasshopper symbol atop the Royal Exchange

Gresham’s grasshopper symbol atop the Royal Exchange

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Our Guided Walks” section of our web-site.  Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

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