Physical marketplaces are important cultural artifacts that demonstrate the importance of economic exchange for the pace and improvements of everyday living. And as Rachel Black said in her ethnographic account of Turin’s Porta Palazzo, “What other public spaces still bring together such an important cross-section of a cit’s population? What places allow for open discussion of just about any topic?” (2012, p. 38-39)
This tour can be conducted on foot, but links to virtual resources are also provided.
Portobello Market, W11 1AN
The world’s largest antique market, in the famous Notting Hill. It’s main trading day is Saturday but the area also contains numerous permanent shops. Follow on Instagram to see details of virtual fashion markets on Fridays.
Brick Lane Market, E1 6QR
Containing bric-a-brac as well as fruit and vegetables, Brick Lane market is part of London’s East End and close to the world famous cluster of curry houses. The market is is open on Sundays and can get very busy! For more information see here or here.
Smithfield Market, EC1A 9PS
Smithfield Market is technically called “London Central Markets” and is located in Farringdon. It is one of the largest wholesale meat markets in the world and the site has hosted livestock for over 800 years.
There is a 90-minute tour that costs £12.50. You can book a tour here: https://www.cityoflondonguides.com/tours/smithfield-market-tours-monthly
Fun fact: Scottish revolutionary William Wallace, otherwise known as “Braveheart”, was killed at Smithfield in 1305.
Borough Market, SE1 1TL
Borough Market is one of the oldest and largest food markets in London, dating back to the 12th century. The present buildings were built in the 1850s and house an eclectic mix of speciality foods. Open Monday – Saturday.
London Metal Exchange (LME), EC2A 1AJ
The London Metal Exchange (LME) originates from 1571, but was formed in 1877 and moved to its current location in 2016. It remains one of the few physical trading floors for a major commodity market – activity is conducted within an open outcry “ring”, which gets its name from when traders would mark out a ring using chalk on a coffeehouse floor. For more on its history see here.