Markets and Street Life, London
Smithfield Meat Market.
Smithfield, London's largest meat market covers an area of over 10 acres. Smithfield or 'Smoothfield', as it was known in the Middle Ages, was a 'plain, grassy space just outside the City walls, famous for its horse market. In 1173 William FitzStephen, clerk to Thomas Becket, described the area as 'a smoth field where every Friday there is a celebrated rendezvous of fine horses to be sold.' Sheep, pigs and cattle were also traded here. In 1305 the going rate for oxen was 5s 6p each. The City of London was granted the tolls from the market by charter in 1400 and Bartholomew Fair was held here from 1123 until its suppression for rowdiness and debauchery in 1855.
Smithfield was also used for tournaments, jousting and sporting events, and in 1357 a royal tournament was held here and attended by the Kings of England and France. In 1384 another royal tournament was held in honour of Edward III's mistress Dame Alice Perrers and lasted seven days. Wat Tyler came here with his rebels in 1381 to meet Richard II. He was stabbed by Lord Mayor Walworth and executed in front of St Bartholomew's Hospital.
Smithfield was a place of execution for over 400 years, until the gallows were moved to Tyburn in the reign of Henry IV. Many witches and heretics were burned, boiled or roasted alive. In 1305 Sir William Wallace was put to death here and a memorial to him stands on the corner of Giltspur Street and Little Britain. In 1410 Henry, Prince of Wales (later Henry V) attended the execution of John Badly and tried in vain to make him recant; in 1538 John Forest, Prior of the Observant Convent at Greenwich, was put in a cage and roasted alive for refusing to recognise the King's supremacy. Between 1554 and 1558, during the reign of Mary Tudor, over 200 martyrs were burned , and as late as 1652 a woman was burned here for poisoning her husband. Excavations outside the church of St Bartholomew the Great in 1849 uncovered burnt stone and charred human bones - many of which were taken away as relics. Today, black cabs park where the stake once stood and lorries arrive offloading animal carcasses for the meat market. But those who work here say that sometimes, early on misty mornings, the smell of burning flesh drifts across the square and agonised screams rend the air.
By the early 17th century the area was notorious for duelling and fighting and was commonly known as 'Ruffian's Hall'. In 1615 the area was paved and provided with sewers and railings in an effort to bring order. The City of London Corporation formally established a cattle market on the site in 1638 under Royal Charter.
Over the next 100 years the City grew to surround the market and at the beginning of the 18th century complaints were made against unruly cattle and drunken herdsmen. Drovers used to amuse themselves by stampeding cattle on the way to market; the tormented beasts took refuge in shops and houses. (This is thought to be the origin of the phrase 'a bull in a china shop'). The Lord Mayor of the time issued a proclamation against these 'loose idle and disorderly person's' in 1789, but the situation had not improved by the middle of the 19th century. Cattle were still being driven through Sunday congregations and slaughtered in the market. Facilities were lacking, blood flowed through the streets and entrails were being dumped in the drainage channels. Charles Dickens gives an accurate description in 'Oliver Twist':
'The ground was covered, nearly ankle-deep, with filth and mire; a thick steam perpetually rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle...the unwashed, unshaven, squalid and dirty figures constantly running to and fro, and bursting in and out of the throng, rendered it a stunning and bewildering scene, which quite confounded the senses'.
Despite it being inadequate, the market was not moved until 1855 when the sale of livestock and horses was transferred to the Metropolitan Cattle Market in Islington. Between 1851and 1866 Horace Jones built a new market which had an underground railway linking Smithfield with the main railway stations. It was called the London Central Meat Market and was opened in 1868 with further additions being made in 1875 and 1899. The poultry section of the market was burned out in 1958 and a new market hall was erected in 1963 at a cost of £2,000,000.
Today the market employs around 1,500 people and sells over 150,000 tons of meat every year. It has its own police force and some of the areas pubs are licensed from 6.30 am.
Old Spitalfields Market is one of London´s attractions. It is a beautiful inside market located in a beautiful Victorian market hall.
In AD 300/400 on this site was a Roman cemetary. In 1682 the first market opened here, John Belch, a silk thrower, of which there were many in this area, was the first one to open a food market here by King Charles II. For centuries it was a food market, with meat, fish, fruits and vegetables. In 1991 the wolesale fruit vegetable market moved to a new market, New Spitalfields market in Sherrin Road in Leyton, London.
There is a market here every day of the week, but on weekends it is just crowded, one can almost not visit it or enjoy it as it gets so crowded. And seeing that it is a famous market then it is a bit more expensive than other markets I have visited.
Here one can buy various things, lot of clothes stall, both new, designer and vintage clothes, antique and various items. Also collectior´s items, f.ex. records.
There are a lot of restaurants here and cafés as well.
The entrances to the market are called gates and I am sure the names of the gates have got a lot of history, Huguenot Gate, John Balch Gate, Spitfire Gate, Punchinello Gate, Sherrin Gate, Montagu Gate, Wollstonecraft Gate and Mulberry Gate.
In 2011 Old Spitalfields market got the prize of "Best Private Market" in the UK.
Opening hours: Sunday-Friday from 09:00-17:00. Saturday: 10:00-17:00. On Sundays there is a general market here as well. On various week-days there are various markets, on Thursdays: antiques and vintage clothes and on Fridays: art and fashion.
Broadway Market is the largest indoor market in South-London - way down in Tooting Broadway. Next to it is Tooting Market. These two indoor markets are ever so vibrant, I love going there. I spent 1 months and 3 weeks in Colliers Wood, the next stop to Tooting Broadway. Colliers Wood is not such a "happening" place, so I spent a lot of time in Tooting Broadway, where you get a feeling of being in the center of London, it is so busy and bustling and there are endless red double-deckers on the main streets - a pure London feeling - so far south in SW17.
The inhabitants in Tooting Broadway are mainly immigrants and here is the centre of the Muslim Indian community in South-London. It is said tha one can get the best curry in London here in Tooting Broadway, I didn´t try it though.
Broadway Market has been open since 1936 (Tooting Market since 1930) and there are ca 100 stalls here at Broadway Market, with myriad of food-stalls with multicultural cuisine, clothes stores, shoe-stores, jewellery shops, a stall with suitcases, hairdressers, barbers, fishmongers, butchers etc.
One can get palm-reading at Broadway Market - with the promise of casting away all deamons of all religions. The palm-readers are a bit aggessive in pulling passers by in, or maybe it is just a cultural thing, it must just be their way. I didn´t go for it, I don´t want to dabble in casting out deamons in an indoor market...
The only thing that bothers me about the market is that it is rather smelly and cold. It is big and there are some heaters in it, but the smell is off-putting. There are fishmongers and butchers here, so I guess that is where the smell is coming from. By the pet-shop it just got overwhelming.
Apart from that it is fun visiting the market - and the surrounding streets with its myriad of shops.
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday: 09:30-18:30 on Wednesdays from 09:30-17:30. Sunday: closed.
Borough Market is one of London's most well known and historic produce markets. There has been a market on this site since the Romans. During the week it sells to the food industry, but on Saturdays it is open to the general public and is popular with restauranteurs, gourmets, locals, trendys and tourists.
You can buy all kinds of fabulous food here, bread, cheese, meat (you will find boar meat sausages, rabbit, venison burgers etc etc... ) as well as fish, oysters, and all kinds of fruit and veg as well as cakes and sweets and chutnies and oooohhhh the list is endless and you won't leave empty handed. Almost every stall has a taster plate, where you can try a bit of sausage or cheese or bread or whatever before you buy, but you won't be disappointed, the quality of produce available here is superb.
Be warned though, just about everything on sale here is made, grown, produced by the traders themselves and they come from all over the country to sell, these are not supermarket prices. It's not cheap, but you won't find better quality anywhere else in the UK.
Towards the end of the day some of the fruit and veg is sold off cheaply, it's worth hanging on.
The website is fantastic, check it out for more details.
One of the markets at Portobello Market is Portobello Green Market. It is located at the northern end of Portobello Market - further away in Notting Hill. I always enter the market from Notting Hill Gate station and walk down to the Portobello Green Market - which takes one all the way through the main market area.
At Portobello Green Market one can find a great selection of vintage and new clothes. There is an excellent selection of vintage fur-coats here, with quite a few stalls specialising in vintage fur. There are more than 800 stalls here and it can get really crowded.
On different days of the week there are different stalls here. On Fridays mostly vintage, antigues, retro. On Saturdays designer clothes, accessories and fashion. On Sundays clothes, books and CD´s and records.
This is such a lively area of the market. Walking further north is the end of the market with vintage clothe´s stalls lining the street. Opposite Portobello Green Market is Acklam Village Market, with more vintage clothes and the restaurant stalls.
Walking down the path, with myriads of stalls, to leave the market, one can get stuck and has to follow the crowds. But one is stuck anyway and the long walk up to Notting Hill Gate station takes quite a while, so I sometimes leave Portobello Road Market here behind Portobello Green Market.
Opening hours: Friday-Sunday from 07:00-18:00.
Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill is by far the most popular market in London - if not in the world. There has been a market here since 1870. Back then it was only a Saturday market.
To get to the market I take the tube to Notting Hill Gate and from there are good directions to which exit to take to Portobello Road Market and where to find it. One has to walk for ca 5 minutes to get to the market.
Portobello Road Market is such a varied market, one can buy almost everything here, bric-a-brac, antique, vintage clothes, vintage fur-coats, fashion clothes, food etc., etc. There are some lovely Antique Arcades here. My sister loves antique and I know she would love visiting Notting Hill and Portobello Road Market. I hope we will be able to visit it together one day.
On Saturdays Portobello Road Market is almost painfully busy. You have to be there to understand how unbelievably busy it gets. I do visit it on Saturdays from time to time, but I am a fast walker and almost feel trapped in here. I prefer visiting it on a normal weekday, although the whole market isn´t open, then there are several stalls open and it is much less busy. All the stores are open on weekdays and food-stalls, restaurant and cafés, so it is also fun visiting it on a weekday and I have made some bargains there.
I add some photos from how busy it can get on Saturdays - compared to what it looks like on a weekday. It is the same street on both photos. One can see the numbers painted on the street where the stalls are located on Saturdays.
One part of the market is called Portobello Green Market and the organic international food-market opposite PGM is called Acklam Village Market (see my additional tips on Portobello Road Market).
There are stores on both sides of Portobello Road - after you cross Westbourne Grove. The only part of Portobello Road, which has almost no stores, is the part leading from Pembridge Road to Westbourne Grove. There are many cafés and restaurants on each side of Portobello Road, but the stalls almost hide them completely - especially when it gets so crowded. But if one wants to take a break one can go behind the stalls and try to find a seat in a café or a pub - or just browse in the stores behind the stalls.
The main Portobello Road Market is open on Saturdays from ca 07:00-17:00, although some of them are open a bit longer and very few people arrive so early in the morning. The official hours for the market are: Monday-Wednesday: 09:00-18:00. Thursday: 09:00-13:00. Friday-Saturday: 09:00-19:00. Closed on Sundays.
Borough Market is a foodies paradise! This historic market dates back to 43AD, though has only been trading on its current site for around 250 years. The market is filled with stalls selling a huge range of products - a mix of gourmet items and 'ordinary' items. There are a few different sections to the market - Crown Square, the Green Market, the Jubilee Market, and the shops and restaurants which surround the market.
The market is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It is a very popular place and is always very crowded, especially on a Saturday. Friday lunch times are also very hectic, with all of the nearby office workers descending on the market to buy their lunch. If you are in the area on a Friday, queue up with the suits and buy your lunch - it may take a while, but it is worth the wait.
Things you can buy/see at the market include:
-the freshest fruit & vegetables
-full range of meat and poultry, including whole (headless) deer caught that morning
-bread, pastries and cakes
-cheese, cheese, cheese
-hot meat sandwiches, filled baguettes, excellent coffee
-excellent bacon and other deli products
We have made it our mission to taste-test all of the different chocolate brownies for sale at the market - after extensive research I can report that the best ones actually come from a small shop on Stoney Street (which borders the market), called Konditor & Cook.
Have also had some excellent fresh pasta from the markets, tasty bread and an amazing Treacle Pudding.
Thursdays: 11am to 5pm
Fridays: 12pm to 6pm
Saturdays 9am to 4pm
London as a city probably has more landmarks and features instantly recognisable world wide than any other city in the world. While some of these are major buildings and monuments some are items of a rather more mundane nature. Everyone knows about London’s red buses, its black taxis and the Tube.
Anyone who has visited London, or the UK generally, will also be familiar with the countries famous red telephone boxes and letter boxes. Indeed both items have been exported worldwide and can still be seen in active service in most of the few remaining outposts of Empire. I must say my recent sighting of the red letter letter box at Georgetown’s Post Office on Ascension Island rekindled nostalgic memories as I journeyed towards the UK.
I digress, not unusual for me.
Here I want to tell you a little about the British telephone box or more specifically about the red ones commissioned by the General Post Office (GPO) which managed telecommunications prior to its split into British Telecom and the Post Office in 1981 and the privatisation of British Telecom in 1984.
The first thing to note is that while they all look the same they are not.
In 1921 Britain's first standard kiosk (phone box), the imaginatively named Kiosk No 1 (abbreviated to K1) was designed by the GPO itself. While there were over time a few K1 models it was not especially well liked and a competition was held to find a replacement.
A number of designs were received and the then recently established Royal Fine Art Commission was summoned into action. The Commission was formed in May 1924 by an Act of Parliament with the purpose of examining questions of "public amenity or artistic importance referred to it by government departments and other...bodies".
A design by Giles Gilbert Scott was selected by the Commission and K2 came into being. Over 10,000 K2’s were installed mainly in London and of these just over 200 remain today. The remaining K2’s are Grade 2 heritage listed structures. My main photograph is of a K2. K2s were costly to produce and not rolled out beyond London. The prototype K2 box can be found in the entrance arch of the Royal Academy at Piccadilly. It is made of wood. Is it real? I don’t know.
Various other largely unsuccessful models ( again imaginatively named - K3, K4 and K5) followed the K2.
In 1935 King George V celebrated his Silver Jubilee and to commemorate this the GPO commissioned the now Sir Giles Gilbert Scott to design a new kiosk - K6 eventuated. Approximately 60,000 of these were installed across the UK and around 10,000 exist and it is this K6 which has come to represent the famous red telephone box. Picture 2 attached shows two K6s outside the British Museum. Just over 2,000 K6s are heritage listed, of which more than 90%, are actually K6 variants.
The last K6s were installed in 1968. Prior to the breakup of the GPO in 1981 K7 came out (only a handful installed) as did the rather plain K8 (around 11,000). British Telecom produced a rather pedestrian offering in 1985 and installed around 100,000 up to 1996 by which stage the advent of mobile phones and increased vandalism had sounded the death knell for further public phones of the street variety, at least. What remains now seem to be more there for street decoration than making telephone calls.
It is possible that you will come across a black telephone box when you visit London (picture three). These are in fact painted K6s. In the 1980s British Telecom sold a number of kiosks to the private sector but retained its monopoly on the red colour and thus had them painted black.
Should this review have excited an interest in Britain’s red telephone boxes you should start your further research here - http://www.the-telephone-box.co.uk/. Additionally this site includes detailed pictures pointing out the distinguishing features of various boxes for any prospective phone box hunters among you.
There is a market in Elephant & Castle by the shopping center, called "The Elephant & Castle market" - there are others in this area, but this is the market where I go often and have bought quite a few items. F.ex. 2 pullowers, the design of which I love. I had bought 2 exactly the same in Punky Fish in Notting Hill and thought the price was a bit steep, but bought them anyway. Only days after to find the same pullowers in Elephant & Castle market half the price - so I bought 2 more. That is why I own pullowers in 4 different colours ;)
The market is located in a "cavern" by the shopping mall, which incidentally is the oldest mall in London. The first photo I add is of the red elephant by one of the entrances of the shopping mall. There are so many ethnic stores in the mall, to me it looks like an indoor market. I remember visiting it 25 years ago and it looked different back then. And of course there are the usual stores here, Tesco Metro and Poundland etc.
The underground is by the Mall and behind it is the train-station, so this is quite a busy area.
Both the market and the mall make this area quite an interesting place to visit. If it weren´t for this roundabout from Hell with the tunnels that lead to everywhere and nowhere - but that is another tip for warning and dangers in London ;) Of course Londoners are used to it, but for us visitors, who don´t live here it can get quite confusing.
The market is open on Monday-Saturday from 10:00-18:00. Sunday: closed.
Love Borough Market but don't love the crowds - perhaps Broadway Market is for you! Broadway Market is a farmers market located between Bethnal Green and Hackney, just south of London Fields. It is open from 9am-5pm every Saturday.
Ok, it is tiny compared to Borough, with no where near the selection of goods, but it is growing on a weekly basis and soon they hope to have 120 stalls each week. Even so, we were pleasantly surprised with the selection of goods available, recognising some of the vendors from Borough, and discovering some new ones as well. We found it a lot easier to browse and shop here as there was room to move.
The shops lining the street are also worth a browse. Perhaps you a feeling peckish and have a hankering for a some hot jellied eel, or need to buy a gift, or want to relax in one of the small cafes and watch the market activity.
Broadway Market has a great community feel to it and I know we will venture back again soon - looking forward to seeing it grow and prosper.
There are two indoor markets on Tooting High Street down in Tooting Broadway in South-London.
One of them is Tooting Market, which has been in operation for over 80 years, or since 1930. Here one can find all kinds of shops and restaurants. The inhabitants in Tooting Broadway are mainly immigrants and here is the centre of the Muslim Indian community in South-London.
Tooting Market is a bit smaller than Broadway Market, which is next door to it, but it has a good selection of restaurants and clothes stores. It is a bit on the steep side though, I have bought cheeper clothes in Notting Hill than I have in Tooting Market. When I first visited the market I thought it would be a bit cheeper than the markets in central London, seeing that it is a bit far away from the center of London - in SW17. I especially liked one store in here, but the clothes were just too expensive...
I talked to the owner of the store while I was trying on the clothes, and she told me that the owner of the market didn´t put enough heating in the market and that they were freezing. This was in December. She said that she had got pneumonia from standing there in this cold all day long - and had to spend some time in hospital. I felt so sorry for her, as it was really cold in there. In other parts of the markets I had seen some heaters, but they were only by the entrance.
There are Chinese, Thai, Portugues and international food stalls by both entrances. And a Caribbean food store.
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday: 09:30-18:30, Wednesday: 09:30-17:30. Sunday: closed. These are the opening hours for the next door Broadway Market, but I think they are the same for Tooting Market as well.
Well worth a visit - Tooting Broadway is ever so vibrant. I went there every day for a month and three weeks while staying in Colliers Wood, which is next stop to Tooting Broadway.
It s not everyday fun in the world of street entertainers. This one looked like he really had enough that day. Who can blame him??? It must have been one of the hottest day of the year in London and imagine how we would feel with all that paint and clothing in these temperatures!
Queensway is one of the streets in London which are buzzing with life with lots of shops and bars and the oldest department store in London, Whiteley shopping center (see my tip).
Queensway is in Bayswater so all the surrounding streets are crowded with hotels and guesthouses. I once stayed in Pembridge Palace hotel, which is one block from Queensway (see my tip).
There is an inside market in Queensway, Queensway market, which is quite interesting, I have added photos on the market here. It has got many small stores and even a corridor called Psychic Mew where you can talk to mediums and get tarot and rune readings.
There are not many places in London where you can buy fake brand-names like Dior and Chanel etc. but in this market there is a store which sells only fake brand-name clothes. What I found interesting is that there were so many Russians there and some of the store signs were written in Russian as well. There is a Russian café there and a Mediterranean café, a Brazilian shop, an Afro-market and Arabic stores, so this indoor-market is quite international.
There is almost everything in there, a hairdresser, food-store, jewellers, Internet, electronic repair, a computer market, antique etc. etc. So this makes for an interesting visit and I always check it out when in London.
Shepherd's Bush market is in an area in London called Shepherd's Bush. I stayed in a hotel close to this area for 2 weeks in May 2010 so I visited this market and area often. This is an ethnic market, with many Indian and Muslim shops and outside stalls. There are also African stalls there. I expected this market to be much bigger though. There are household goods, clothes, halal food and many jewellers there. Many of the shops had a strong mouldy smell, no offence.
The market is in between Uxbridge Road and Goldhawk Road, both roads are lined with shops, mostly Indian shops and Arabic shops and there are so many Indian fabric stores in Goldhawk Road that I have nowhere in London seen so many shops of this kind in one street. Uxbridge Road has got many Indian stores as well and very good Arabic food stores.
In 2012 I stayed for 1 month and 3 weeks in Colliers Wood in South-London, and the next stop to Colliers Wood is Tooting Broadway, I saw the same thing there, Indian stores all over. And then again in other areas, f.ex. Bethnal Green in East-London.
Shepherd's Bush is a very lively area and much cheaper than down-town London. But after they built Westfield shopping centre in this area in 2008 the prices are going up.
I stayed again in Hammersmith/Shepherds Bush in February and March 2013, love it here.
The market is open everyday (closed Sundays) from 9:30-17. Thursdays 9:30-13:30.
The market has been here since 1756 but there has been a market around this site since the 13th century.
You can find a wide range of vegetables, fruits, cheeses, meats, seafoods.
It is faired that it faces extinction from time to time due to developments.
It s situated by london bridge and is open on fridays from 12pm to 6pm and saturdays from 9am to 4pm.