1566

Known as the father of English banking, wealthy merchant Sir Thomas Gresham establishes The Royal Exchange as London’s first purpose-built centre for trading stocks. It is modelled on the Bourse in Antwerp, the world’s oldest financial exchange, where Gresham had been based as a royal agent.

1571

The Royal Exchange is officially opened by Queen Elizabeth I, who awards it a royal title and a license to sell alcohol.

1660

The enterprising Thomas Gresham adds two additional floors to the original trading floor to house retail businesses, effectively creating Britain’s first shopping mall, as pictured in this image from c.1660.

1666

The original The Royal Exchange is destroyed, along with one-third of the city, in the Great Fire of London. A second site opens in 1669, designed in a Baroque style by City surveyor Edward Jerman. This second The Royal Exchange thrives with merchants and brokers.

1838

In a dramatic twist, Jerman’s The Royal Exchange is also destroyed by fire, most likely caused by an overheated stove in Lloyd’s Coffee House on nearby Lombard Street.

1844

An architectural competition to design the third (and current) The Royal Exchange is launched. The winner, Sir William Tite, reverts to the original layout of the building, but includes an imposing, eight-column entrance inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. The building is officially opened by Queen Victoria in 1844.

1901

The proclamation of King Edward VII takes place on 23 January 1901 at The Royal Exchange, mere days after the death of Queen Victoria. Throughout its history, the building served as an important rallying point for the Empire.

1941

Trading is suspended following the outbreak of World War II. The Royal Exchange survives, albeit with damage caused in 1941 by bombing during the Blitz. After the war, the traders move out, leaving the building in a state of disuse for several decades.

1953

The Mermaid Theatre had a home in the courtyard of The Royal Exchange in 1953 until it was relocated in 1959 to a purpose-built building in Puddle Dock, Blackfriars.

1982

In the 1980s, The Royal Exchange briefly returns to its trading past when the London International Financial Futures Exchange moves in. During this time, the rotting Victorian roof is replaced and two floors of new offices are added.

2001

The Grade I-listed building is extensively remodelled by architects Aukett Fitzroy Robinson in 2001, transformed into a luxury shopping and dining destination. Though an entirely different building from his original design, the modern-day The Royal Exchange pays homage to its founder in its gilded copper grasshopper weathervane – a symbol taken from the Gresham family crest.

2015

Today, The Royal Exchange continues to remain true to its retail roots. Unique in the City, it remains one of London’s finest landmarks.