Exterior of Royal Exchange
Interior of Royal Exchange during 2002 Cow Parade
The Royal Exchange in the City of London was founded in 1565 by Sir Thomas Gresham to act as a centre of commerce for the city, where merchants and tradesman could do business. The site was provided by the Corporation of London and the Worshipful Company of Mercers. The design was inspired by a bourse Gresham had seen in Antwerp.
Gresham's original building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. A second exchange was built on the site, designed by Edward Jarman, which opened in 1669, and which was destroyed by fire in January 1838
The third Royal Exchange building still stands on the site and adheres to the original layout - consisting of a rectangular structure surrounding a central courtyard where merchants and tradesmen could do business. This building was designed by Sir William Tite, 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, and is now an exclusive shopping centre, with a central seafood restaurant owned by Terence Conran.