History of Langbourn and the Ward Club

Langbourn is one of 25 Wards of the City of London, electing an Alderman to the Court of Aldermen and 3 Common Councilmen (the City equivalent of a councillor) to the Court of Common Council of the City of London CorporationLangbourn Ward has for centuries been the home of bankers, merchants, goldsmiths and other trades whose dignitaries wielded great power over the finances of the Kings as well as that of Cromwell’s Commonwealth.

It could be supposed that Langbourn means “A long ‘Borne’ of sweet water” as stated by John Stow in his 1598 survey of London.  However there is no evidence that there was ever any water here.  The crest displayed by the Club is the crown of St Edmund the King and Martyr above the City shield and below the crossed arrows shot at him by the Danes.

The Church of St Edmund the King and Martyr (Robert Hooke and Sir Christopher Wren) is the Parish Church situated in Lombard Street and together with St Mary Woolnoth (Hawksmoor) they are the only two churches still standing in the Ward.  Historically, the Ward also contained four other churches: St Nicholas Acons (destroyed in the Great Fire 1666), All Hallows Staining (demolished 1870), St. Dionis Backchurch (1878), and All Hallows Lombard Street (1939).

The boundaries before the recent changes were nearly the same as they were 700 years ago when the Wards were frequently known by the names of their most influential Alderman.  It is a small Ward; a long thin area, running in a west-east direction.  Historically, Lombard Street and Fenchurch Street were the principal streets, forming the cores of the Ward's West and East divisions respectively.  Boundary changes in 2003 and 2013 have resulted in most of the northern sides of these streets remaining in Langbourn, whilst the southern sides are now largely in the wards of Candlewick, Bridge, Billingsgate and Tower.  Three changes to the boundaries of Langbourn took place in 2013; all of the southern side of Lombard Street, with the notable exception of the guild - or Ward - church of St Mary Woolnoth, is in Candlewick; the ward of Walbrook now includes the northern side of Lombard Street from number 68 to Bank junction. In turn, Langbourn expanded by taking another part of Leadenhall Market from Lime Street ward.  Langbourn Ward at present borders eight other wards (Walbrook, Candlewick, Bridge, Billingsgate, Tower, Aldgate, Lime Street, and Cornhill); historically no other City Ward is bordered by so many neighbours.

However Langbourn Ward remains strategically placed in the City, running from the Mansion House end of Lombard Street over Gracechurch Street and down Fenchurch Street towards Billiter Street. It also encompasses a large area of that Jewel of the City, Leadenhall Market.

Sited as it is, Langbourn Ward has always been important and influential:  its earliest name of Langbord or Longbrod suggests a market place where goods were laid out on long boards or trestles.  Lombard Street was occasionally referred to as Langbourn Street and the Ward has also been known as Lombard Street Ward. What is certain however is that both the Lombard Bankers and the Florentine Merchants, moneylenders to Kings Edward I, II, and III settled and traded here, the latter, in 1318, being granted a great tenement between Lombard Street and Cornhill.

It is interesting to note that in 1693 there were 3,210 persons occupying 512 households and engaging in 110 different “servicing” trades.  With the rise in the popularity of Coffee Houses in those days, it is remarkable that there were fifteen of these meeting places in Langbourn Ward. The most notable being the one close to the corner of Abchurch Lane on the south side of Lombard Street (1691-1785) originally owned by Mr Edward Lloyd, who was to give his name to the Lloyd’s of London insurance market.  He was also a vestryman of the Church of St Mary Woolnoth.  Much later we can claim Sir Henry Irving attended Dr Pinches’ School in George Yard.


Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market dates back to the 14th century and is situated in what was the centre of Roman London. Originally a meat, poultry and game market, it now features a variety of vendors as well as commercial shops, restaurants, cafés and pubs.

In the early 1300s the Manor of Leadenhall is listed as belonging to Sir Hugh Neville. Within a few years the area around the manor became a popular meeting place first for poulterers, and then cheesemongers. In 1411 Lord Mayor Richard 'Dick' Whittington gifted Leadenhall to the City and in 1440 Lord Mayor Simon Eyre replaced the manor hall with a public granary, school and chapel and donated it to the citizens of London.

The market was enlarged to provide a site for selling poultry, grain, eggs, butter, cheese, herbs and other foodstuffs. Over the next 200 years Leadenhall Market became a centre of commerce and further markets were added for wool, leather and cutlery. In 1666 Leadenhall Market suffered only a small amount of damage in the Great Fire. Rebuilding after the Fire, the market became a covered structure and was divided into the Beef Market, the Green Yard and the Herb Market.

In 1881 the City's architect Sir Horace Jones, who was also the architect of Billingsgate and Smithfield Markets, redesigned Leadenhall. His designs replaced the earlier stone structure with wrought iron and glass and was relatively unscathed during the Second World War.

The Poultry Market remained at Leadenhall until well after WW2, when most of the shop units were let for the sale of meat, fish or provisions. In the succeeding years the shops were also being used for general retailing and leisure.

In 1972 the Market was given Grade II heritage listed status and by the end of the 20th century Leadenhall Market had evolved into one of the City's principal shopping areas.

It is hard to imagine the noise and smells of a 19th century market when you look at the beautifully clean and vibrant Victorian buildings of today, as depicted in the drawing on the right

All the Public Houses have survived and there are many new cafés and restaurants including the one constructed from the former underground Gentlemen’s lavatory!

As well as the connection to Dick Whittington, Leadenhall Market has played host to a few other famous names.  During the 18th century 'Old Tom' was a celebrated character in Leadenhall. He was a gander who managed to escape his fate of being slaughtered along with 34,000 other geese. He became a great favourite in the Market, even being fed at the local inns. After his death in 1835 at the age of 38, he lay in state in the Market and was buried on site.

Part of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (the first film in the blockbuster series) was filmed in Leadenhall in 2000/2001. The Market was used to represent the area of London leading to the popular wizarding pub The Leaky Cauldron and magical shopping street Diagon Alley. Leadenhall Market is a popular choice as a filming location and can be seen in many other movies including: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus; Hearafter; and Love Aaj Kal. The pop group Erasure also filmed their music video for Love to Hate You in the market in 1991.

Its cobbled walkways and glass Victorian roof make it an attractive place to shop, eat and drink or simply relax.

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 10:00 to 18:00 (contact individual shops for their opening times)

Much of the information below was originally submitted anonymously by Hannah Gould and Christine Dyer Simpson when the first History of Langbourn Ward Club was written.  It has been updated by Mr F G (Dicky) Bird, who has kindly edited and coordinated the information for the revised History of Langbourn Ward Club in time to celebrate its 125th Year in 2015, with some assistance from others whose names are listed in the book.  (For information on purchasing a copy, please contact The Honorary Clerk).