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The Royal Exchange

Bank London EC3V 3LR

Founded in 1565 by Sir Thomas Gresham as a trading centre, and officially opened by Queen Elizabeth I, who awarded the building its regal title on 23 January 1571, the Royal Exchange was considered the pinnacle of City tradition for centuries, a centre for merchants and tradesmen to meet and conduct business. (Interestingly it once excluded stockbrokers due to their rude manners.) But the original building was destroyed in the Great Fire and then its successor burnt down in 1838. This third Royal Exchange closed down in 1939 and reopened in 2001 as a luxury shopping and restaurant complex with the same layout as the original; the large central courtyard now has the Grand Café, which offers all day dining including afternoon tea. Like so much of the city, it’s only open during the week, but makes a good place to come for a coffee or a cocktail while pondering a purchase from one of the numerous luxury brands that have outlets here – from Hermès to Tiffany and Jo Malone. Stockbrokers, whose manners have improved a bit, are naturally very much welcome these days.

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