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fruit and vegetable market in the grimy Georgian streets near the Southwark Cathedral,
or Smithfield in late December. Leadenhall Market is built on land purchased from Sir
Richard Whittington, and the market has been held since the early fifteenth century. The
present market dates from 1881 and is perhaps best approached from its main entrance in
Gracechurch Street. Poultry and dairy products are its main business. Leadenhall Market
is solid and reassuring, and it asserts the Victorians' belief in the virtues of cast iron. The
entire market with its adjoining alleys is of the greatest interest to the London virtuoso.
The ironwork is highly elaborated with ornament and the griffins which support the City's
coat of arms, the colour scheme being yellow, dull red, and gold - discreetly sober. One
of the most attractive buildings is the Lamb Tavern, here , with its large hanging lamps
and engraved glass. All is Victorian here, apart from the human element and the delivery
vans. Large policemen are a feature of Leadenhall Market, and cockney women, authen-
tic Gerts and Daisies, are to be found rubbing shoulders with city gents taking the air at
lunchtime. There are modern versions of Young Smallweed, old, old men with years of
smoking behind them and the butchers whose bald heads shine under the electric lights. If
the butchers' and poulterers' shops are like a Dutch still-life, the gardening and seed shops
(especially in the spring) are reminiscent of the brilliant intricacy of colour found in an
early Millais. People slowly circle round the flowering standard cherries and rose bushes,
meditating over boxes of herbaceous perennials. It is always good to see these green bor-
der plants in the dusty heart of the City in spring. (You can smell as well as see and feel
the coming of the spring to London.)
Snack bars are an essential item in and around Leadenhall Market, and the market men
and van drivers are on easy terms with the waitresses and proprietors who supply inex-
haustible quantities of tea. Other shops include small newsagents, Dowlings Restaurant,
drawing attention to itself by a hand pointing to the interior where marble-topped tables
are still in use, and a pet stores. Here are the various plastic toys which the English be-
lieve to be a source of amusement to budgerigars: there is something touching in the idea
of a nation losing its Empire wholesale and at the same time devoting itself to budgerig-
ars, but the thought reminds me sharply of the Roman decadence when any amusement
sufficed, provided its charms were sufficiently fleeting. I like the notice displayed in the
window, 'Engraving can be arranged here'. There is a formal quality about the 'arranged',
a politeness implying a refusal to rush things. Architecturally, Leadenhall Market is one of
the many Victorian variants of neo-Classic, the style that the nineteenth-century architects
picked out of the breakdown of tradition; not monumental Classic, like St George's Hall,
Liverpool, simply Victorian Market Classic, with trimmings.
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