Spitalfields Market is a busy and bustling space, and always well worth a visit when you make a trip to London. The teeming market has dozens of stalls and traders, as well as a wide selection of stores and boutiques around it, and the unique charm of the market can’t be found anywhere else in the capital.
The market has its own long-standing history, and has played an important role in the evolution of the East End of London over the centuries, as well as being a must-visit destination today. So if you’re planning a stay at the Montcalm Royal London House - City of London, read on first to discover more about Spitalfields Market, and find out all you need to know.
The history of Spitalfields Market
The market standing at the area known as Spitalfields has long been a part of London’s history. In fact, if you’re enjoying one of the great hotel packages London and decide to take a bit of a history lesson through the capital’s past, you’ll soon discover that the origins of Spitalfields Market date all the way back to the 17th century. King Charles I first gave a license to the area to sell a variety of items, including fish and fowl, and fruits and vegetables, and some form of market has remained in the area ever since.
Spitalfields itself has long been an important commercial part of the capital, and played a vital role in the growing silk industry through the 17th century onwards. Huguenots from France came to the City of London as refugees, settling around the area of Spitalfields, as well as other neighbourhoods in East London, and through them, the dominance of master weavers began to take root in the area. A few decades later into the 18th century, the Huguenots were followed by Irish weavers, themselves escaping a drop in the Irish linen industry, which in turn led to revolts and riots between the two rival communities.
Nowadays, you can see an echo of the area’s origins in the textile industry, in the modern day version of Spitalfields Market. While you won’t find any traditional silk weavers there any time soon, you will find a wide variety of artisans and independent designers, all showcasing some stunning clothing and accessories.
Visiting the market
The contemporary version of Spitalfields Market is open seven days a week, throughout nearly the entire year. While it’s open every day, you’ll often find a range of different sellers throughout the week, providing plenty to discover whenever you go. Best of all, it’s a completely covered market, situated within a grand historic space, so that you can enjoy a comfortable place to shop, wander and meet friends, whatever the weather is like outside.
The main daily market runs everyday apart from Wednesday and Saturday. For five days a week, you can explore the main Traders Market of Spitalfields, which contains an exceptional variety of goods.
While it runs most commonly, it’s no less special. You’ll find a great range of products, from delicious street food when you need a tempting snack, to stylish fashion picks, quirky gifts and wonderful works of art. It’s a lovely place to explore whether you simply fancy browsing, or if you’re hunting for a gift to take back home.
The market space is enormous, with many of the traders having been there for several years. If you’re curious about how the history of Spitalfields has changed in recent times, many of them will be able to fill you in, with plenty of insightful details about the local area. And if you need a bit of a recharging break after a busy day at the market, check out some soothing spa packages London, where you can unwind at ease, after a long day of browsing the market stalls.
What to find in the market – pick up some delicious food
Spitalfields Market isn’t just one single market. You’ll actually find a variety of traders there, depending on which day of the week you happen to visit, and being a leisurely walk from the Montcalm Royal London House, it’s definitely worth going there more than once, to make the most of all that the market has to offer.
If cooking is your thing, head to the Producers Market on Wednesdays, where Spitalfields attracts a variety of traders, all showcasing exceptional treats and condiments. The market is perfect for cooks and bakers as you’ll find a great range of exotic and unexpected ingredients, including freshly made bread, jams and chutneys and unique ingredients.
For anyone who loves to discover new things to eat, the must-visit day has to be Friday. This is when Spitalfields is host to the “Startisans Market” – gathering together some of the city’s finest gourmet artisans, who showcase delicious and exciting foods of all kinds of flavours and cuisines. While there are plenty of great restaurants near Finsbury Square where you can enjoy a sit-down meal later in the day, Friday lunchtimes are best spent perusing the many mouth-watering treats on offer at the market.
You’ll find everything from tantalising slices of pizza and delicious vegan fare, to oozing cheese toasties, scrumptious cakes and doughnuts, and street food inspired by dishes from all over the world. The food market is only on from 10.30am to 3pm on Fridays, and you’re sure to leave feeling sated and content. While you can always find some great food in Spitalfields throughout the week, the Friday offerings change every week, and always promise some new gourmet discoveries worth treasuring.
Find some stylish new fashion picks
If you’re staying in the city over the weekend, check out some great London city hotel deals and indulge in a style makeover, with a visit to the Style Market at Spitalfields, on Saturdays. The perfect place for anyone who wants to stay ahead of the latest trends, find unique and innovative items by leading and emerging designers, and find some new fashion inspiration, Saturdays sees the space of Spitalfields filled up with a huge variety of traders specialising in clothing and accessories.
You’ll find everything from quirky, printed t-shirts, beautiful dresses, sharply tailored suits and jackets and stylish outwear, as well as a wide variety of vintage clothing, shoes, accessories and jewellery. There is something for all kinds of tastes, styles and budgets, making it an excellent place to visit if you want to fill the gap in your wardrobe, or find a gift for a stylish friend.
It’s also a great place to people watch and get some style inspiration. With the market attracting thousands of people to its many stalls, keep your eyes peeled to check out visitors’ own stylish outfits, to take away some style cues for yourself.
Discover some contemporary art
One weekend a month, Spitalfields Market hosts an extra-special treat, where you can find all kinds of fantastic contemporary artwork and craft from designers and artists, both from London and further afield. The Arts Market is a great place to find a new piece for your home, or a unique gift for someone, and there is an eclectic range of items to choose from.
Take your pick from paintings, drawings and prints, as well as fantastic sculptures, ceramics and smaller accessories. With pieces of various sizes and prices, there is something for all budgets and tastes. One thing is for sure, you aren’t likely to find any of the pieces in the market in a typical store on the high street, so it’s the perfect place to head to when you want something one of a kind.
As well as all of these popular markets, those searching for something a little more extraordinary won’t come away disappointed either. The market also regularly features visits from antique traders, rare and collectable items, and vintage records sellers, with sellers coming from across London and around the country with some of their best selections of items for sale.
Beyond Spitalfields Market
Spitalfields Market has a wealth of treasures everyday, but it’s also well worth exploring the variety of stores, restaurants and activities around the market area too. As well as the usual market traders, you’ll also find an exceptional selection of boutiques and stores on the periphery of the market building. You can find some top name brands residing as permanent stores here, including the French designer brand, Chanel, iconic outdoor manufacturer, Belstaff, and the New York-based designer boutique, rag and bone. As well as these, you’ll also encounter various other stylish accessory, jewellery and home ware brands, showcasing a great range of exceptional contemporary pieces.
The market space also has a variety of restaurants, bars and cafes, which reside permanently in the area. These are a great alternative to the various food stalls in the market itself, and provide somewhere comfortable to sit and enjoy a delicious drink or meal, which is ideal when you’re in the market with friends. These include the fantastic Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, which always serves up an excellent brew and baked treats, or enjoy a plate of delicious Asian-inspired cuisine at the popular restaurant chain, Wagamama.
Some of the permanent food and drink spaces here have even evolved out of the market’s stalls themselves, finding a long-term space after enjoying great popularity with the market’s customers. Check out Wheelcake Island, purveyors of deliciously fluffy Taiwanese pancakes, which feature a delicious variety of creamy, tempting fillings oozing out from the inside. Choose from treats such as Nutella-filled pancakes, caramel or matcha green tea, for a unique and exotic burst of flavour. They’re also the perfect accompaniment to a fresh cup of coffee.
Spitalfields is also just a short walk away from the legendary area of Brick Lane, itself famous for its own busy Sunday market, as well as a wealth of fantastic restaurants and shops. If you’re in the area, it’s a great idea to pop down to Brick Lane to check out the exceptional vintage boutiques, while grabbing a delicious snack or drink from one of the local spots nearby.
Events at Spitalfields
Throughout the year, you’ll find all kinds of interesting events on at Spitalfields Market to take part in. As the market hosts a variety of speciality traders every day, you’ll often find niche events taking place related to the theme of the market. You may find particular types of antiques or vintage sale events at certain times, for instance, or a focus on contemporary art and crafts from the city.
During popular periods, such as the summer months or festive times, Spitalfields also embraces the holiday spirit, and you will find live music, workshops and other exciting activities to enjoy in and around the market. If you’re curious, it’s worth keeping an eye on the market’s official website and calendar, where they feature upcoming events that will take place in the area.
How to get there
Spitalfields Market is located on Brushfield Street and easy to get to from the Montcalm Royal London House. Just a short, ten minute walk away from Shoreditch High Street station, you can see the busy area of the market and identify it by the brick red building of the exterior.
The market is open daily, and starts trading in the morning. Some of the traders may close up shop in the afternoon, while others are open until later in the day. Most commonly, food stalls will tend to wind down a little earlier, especially during busy periods such as at weekends or during holiday seasons. If you plan to get something to eat or drink there, it’s best to head out a little earlier in the day.
If you plan on going anywhere else in London after your visit to the market, you can easily access the London Overground or the Tube from nearby stations. Shoreditch High Street has regular trains towards Liverpool Street, from which you can catch both the Tube as well as train services taking you around London.