Royal Exchange: Elizabethan centre of finance

The Royal Exchange is a large classical building situated on the junction of Cornhill and Threadneedle Street. It was founded by Thomas Gresham in 1568 as a meeting place for London merchants to transact business. Prior to this, trade had taken place in the open air surroundings of nearby Change Alley.


Although the Exchange still stands on the site it was founded, today's building is the third to bear this name. The first two were burnt down, first in the Great Fire of London and secondly in 1838, when the Exchange's bells were said to chime the popular Scottish folk song ‘There's nae luck about the house' before succumbing to the flames. The oddly appropriate ditty was one of seven the bells were programmed to play.


The third incarnation, which stands today, was opened by Queen Victoria in 1844 and is now a luxury shopping centre.