Despite the name of the market its 400-year history was not based around the leather trade.The name was derived from the name of a local merchant Le Vrunelane. After many other derivatives it changed from Lovrelane, to Liver Lane then to the current branding Leather Lane.

Leather Lane market was born from a bad gambling debt owed by a king whose love of the high life came to epitomise his rule. Charles II, who returned from exile after the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658, owed £500 on two horses. According to a stall-holder at the Chancery Lane market, his pitch is a direct result of the King being a bad punter. George, the stall holder explains how the son of tyrant Charles I lost a wager and in return gave us a bustling street market. “This is a king’s market,” says George. “King Charles owed £500 on two horses but didn’t have the money to pay it. So the bloke said to him, I tell you what, you give me a charter to set up a market over there across the way and give me one penny on each customer and we’ll forget all about the debt. If they ever wanted to close it down, they couldn’t go asking Parliament. No, they’d have to ask the Queen herself.”

Leather Lane was right in the middle of what was know as “Little Italy”, a distinct colony of Italians that emerged at the beginning of the 19th century. These originally were skilled craftsman working as artists decorators and instrument makers. These were followed by Political refugees such as the Giuseppe Mazzini and Gabriele Rosetti. St Peter’s Church at the end of Leather lane was se up to serve the Italian community. Jame Greenwood in 1881 referred described how he “may be threading his way through the unmistakably English crowd that throngs the Leather Lane market” and having progressed but a hundred yards one “has altogether lost sight of his native land, and is stranded on a foreign shore”.


         

  

              

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