EC3 London

Lombard Street

Lombard Street is at the heart of the commercial City and follows the line of a Roman road that entered the City of London at Aldgate. It continued along what became Fenchurch Street, crossed over today’s Gracechurch Street and continued along what became Lombard Street.

Grasshopper

Old signs, like the Grasshopper, the Cat and Fiddle and the sign of the Anchor, hang outside several of the buildings.

Signs were used as identifiers by businesses in medieval times when most people couldn’t read.

Cat & Fiddle sign

The medieval signs are long gone but signs were resurrected on Lombard Street to celebrate the coronation of Edward VII in 1902.

Jewish money lenders were England’s bankers following the Norman invasion of 1066, but Jews were expelled from England by Edward I in 1275.

Edward then granted land, part of today’s Lombard Street, to goldsmiths from Lombardy. They were skilled and experienced bankers and many of the banking terms we still use today originate from the goldsmiths of Lombardy.

TSB sign

Lombard Street became the centre of UK banking and remained so well into the 20th century. A list of banks in Victorian times identifies several along Lombard Street.

The list includes Barclays Bank who trace their origins to two Quaker goldsmiths who set up in Lombard Street in 1690 and in the 18th century they were located at the Sign of the Spread Eagle at 54 Lombard Street. Today the spread eagle remains Barclays Bank’s coat of arms.

Between Lombard Street and Cornhill are a network of old alleyways like Change Alley and St Michael’s Alley, once home to coffee houses which were the meeting places of merchants who came together, often from the same trades, to discuss business.

One of the best-known Coffee Houses was Edward Lloyd’s, a meeting place for those involved in maritime business. Lloyds had started in Tower Street but moved to Lombard Street in 1691 and eventually became global insurance company Lloyd’s of London.

Lomard Street

From 1678 the headquarters of the General Post Office was located at Lombard Street and remained here until 1829 when a new purpose-built facility opened in St Martin le Grand, EC2. Post Office Court, at the western end of Lombard Street, commemorates the presence of the GPO.

Today at one end of Lombard Street stands the church of St Mary Woolnoth, at the other end a TK Maxx and in between are a variety of offices, a gym, a Sainsbury’s and the church of St Edmund, King and Martyr.

For more information about the signs in Lombard, see How London’s Banks got their Logos.