Let there be light
Take a look inside the heart of the Corn Exchange, and you’ll be dazzled by a spectacular glass atrium. Originally created to give natural light to the traders, the dome now provides a magnificent focal point for the many eating destinations that spread throughout its tiered structure.
Exploring the atrium puts you at the very centre of everything the Corn Exchange has to offer. The bright, spacious dining areas beneath the impressive glass dome give the feel of cosmopolitan al-fresco dining. And when you’ve finished craning your neck to take in the sensational architecture, you can take your pick of the restaurants and enjoy it all over again from your seat.
The Corn Exchange has always been home to trade. From the 16th Century corn market that grew up on Fennel Street, to the building of the Corn Exchange itself. It’s since evolved into a bohemian flea market in the 70s, before becoming the Triangle Shopping Centre.
The glass atrium is more than just an impressive architectural feature. It played an essential role in providing the good light merchants needed to check the corn’s colour and quality. Now the same warm abundant light let’s you savour the array of colours on your plate instead.
Beautifully crafted inside and out
On Cathedral Street you can take a step back in time and immerse yourself in Manchester’s rich past. Whilst in the gothic quarter, nestled next to the cathedral, take your senses on a journey from the medieval cobbled streets to the fragrant, cutting-edge Asian cuisine served by Pho and Mowgli.
When you venture down this quaint cobbled street, sandwiched between the Corn Exchange and the gothic cathedral that gave this street its name, you almost forget that you’re just around the corner from the hustle and bustle of Manchester city centre. But even though the surroundings are quintessentially English, the cuisine on offer certainly isn’t – with its tantalising array of Asian flavours served up by Pho Vietnamese food and Mowgli Indian street food.
There’s no mystery to where Cathedral Street got its name, but its 700 year heritage nestled between both buildings is still filled with secrets and marvels.
The piers that support the cathedral’s tower date all the way back to 1380 and while much of the exterior of this Gothic wonder is a 19th century reconstruction, the craftsmen were scrupulously faithful to the original building.
Long before the IRA bombing of 1996, Cathedral Street was rocked by a direct hit on the building during the Manchester blitz courtesy of the Luftwaffe. It was December 1940, and although there was significant damage and many of the beautiful windows were lost forever, many of the woodcarvings miraculously survived.
Bursting with flavour
The Fennel Street location is home to Byron Burgers and the Brazilian delights of Cabana. Here, in our inviting glazed extension, you’ll find a captivating mix of the old and the new, and a dining experience that reflects the secluded charm of Cathedral Gardens.
As well as overlooking Cathedral Gardens, Chetham’s School of Music and the National Football Museum, the glazed extensions of Fennel Street offer a window into two of the Corn Exchange’s favourite eating destinations – the irresistible burgers served up at Byron and Cabana’s traditional Brazilian BBQ.
While there is some evidence that Fennel Street’s origins may be pre-Norman, by the mid 1500s it was one of Manchester’s major town centre streets, and the site of the original corn market.
No one really knows where it got its name. While some think it is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word "vennel", which means a gutter or ditch, or from "funnel", as there was a deep well nearby, it’s just as possible there was a field of fennel herbs in the vicinity.
The corn market was held in a courtyard, and trading began with the ringing of the market bell outside the Dog and Partridge Pub (don’t go looking for it though, the National Football Museum stands there now instead).
From Shambles, to Selfridges
Exchange Square is Manchester’s bustling commercial heart. Against this vibrant backdrop, we have an eclectic mix of different cuisine on offer in a beautiful setting perfect for people watching. You’ll soon be able to hop off the tram right outside too, with a new tram stop due to open as part of Metrolink’s second city tram crossing.
One of the city’s busiest and most vibrant public spaces, there’s always something going on in Exchange Square. And better still, it now hosts the bulk of the Corn Exchange’s eating destinations - from the homegrown flavours of Banyan and Cosy Club, to Wahaca’s Mexican street food, Tampopo’s Pan Asian delights and Italian offerings from Vapiano, Zizzi, Salvis, Pizza Express and Gino D’Acampo – My Restaurant.
Once upon a time a Roman moat flowed to the south of the Cathedral and into the River Irwell. ‘Hanging Ditch’ was so named because it was where the fullers hung out their sheets to dry.
By 1996 it was a bustling road, one of two completely devastated by the IRA bomb. Many of the buildings were so badly damaged they were cleared and a pedestrianised square was erected there. Exchange Square is now bordered by a cluster of 17th century buildings known as the Shambles, as well as Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, and running through the centre is a water feature commemorating the ancient moat.