Old Spitalfields Market is a covered market in East London featuring cool independent shops and traders mixed with high-quality street food stalls. Around the market floor, you’ll find a melting pot of restaurants and retailers making this one of the most exciting markets in London.
A market with long traditions
Most properly known as Old Spitalfields Market, this covered marketplace occupies a block of space in Spitalfields, bordered by Lamb Street, Commercial Street, and Brushfield Street. There has been a market on this site since 1638 when Charles I issued a license for the sale of consumables at this location which at that time was a rural patch of land on the outskirts of London. Since then, the market has been modernised with a Norman Foster office building on the west side of the market, but it still retains many of its character as a lively market.
Highlights at Spitalfields Market
- The falafels from Pipel, hearty, crispy and delicious
- Visit the market on Antique Thursday and find some real gems
- The chicken rice rolls from Rice Brother are amazing
- Yifang Fruit Tea offers an amazing variety of milk tea from Taiwan
- Collectif is a retailer selling funky Brit clothes and accessories
- The vinyl market, every second Friday
- At Cafe Caribbean, you can get deliciously juicy jerk chicken
Unique quality shops at Spitalfields Market
Many unique shops and stalls line the area, extending from the main Spitalfields area, across Commercial street, right down Brick lane and towards Petticoat Lane which also rightly boasts a great market. Thursdays specialise in vintage and antiques, Fridays are perfect for fashion and art, but Sundays are by far the best days to catch everything. You’ll find wonderful wooden hand-carved furniture, beautiful hand-painted china sets, a wide selection of vintage and designer clothes at a smidgen compared to high street brands (I mention no names), fascinating artwork and photography (with the artist usually there to talk to), stunning hand-crafted jewellery and unique accessories.
If you need a break or some nourishment, take your pick from the quaint cafes, trendy pubs or cultural food stalls (e.g. Ethiopian, Caribbean, Sri Lankan) en route. Commercial street is bursting with quirky boutiques and clothes shops, and Brick Lane is a fantastic place to wind up your shopping experience, equipped with relaxing cafes, shisha bars, and lively street music.
Starting with fruit and vegs
The existing buildings at the market were built in 1887 by the City of London Corporation for the wholesale fruit and vegetable trade. This wholesale market moved to another location in Spitalfields in 1991, and is now known as the New Spitalfields Market.
Visiting Spitalfields Market is a treat for the senses; the sights and sounds and smells jump right out at you from the start. The Lamb Street shops are a paradise for the fashionista; you will find chic agnès b. couture right next to the funky FairyGothMother shop that specialises in outrageous corsets.
The market has several art galleries featuring original artwork and photography, much of it locally-themed, and shops carrying handmade crafts. There are also stalls at the market that are hired by local vendors and carry a variety of goods.
On Thursdays the market stalls offer antiques, and on Fridays, the emphasis is on fashion and art. Sundays are popular days for the market; there is no particular theme and you never know what you might find.
Sunday brunch at Spitalfields Market
There is no shortage of restaurants at Spitalfields Market. If you fancy something traditional, Square Pie has a dizzying array of meat and fish pies. Curry lovers will be pleased to know that along with the usual Indian fare, Thai and Malaysian curry shops can be found at the market. In fact, the food area offers everything from pasta and panini to goulash and falafel, so come hungry.