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Old Spitalfields Market in London

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In East London, within the Tower Hamlets district, the Old Spitalfields Market is one of the most popular spots in the English capital.

Nestled in a beautiful Victorian building amidst towering skyscrapers, this historic market entices both tourists and locals with its vibrant and flavorful atmosphere. You’ll find trendy shops, artisan stalls, street food vendors, and world cuisine restaurants all under one roof.

The best part? The market is covered, providing a cozy refuge from London’s notorious drizzle!


💡 The Captain’s Tips 💡

Want to know more about the history of London? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the capital. The tip you leave is entirely up to you!

Looking for a hotel in London? Be sure to check out the Captain’s article: Where to stay in London? Tips & Recommendations.

Old Spitalfields Market At A Glance

A Brief History of Spitalfields Market


The Birth of Spitalfields Market

The history of Old Spitalfields Market dates back to the 17th century. In 1638, King Charles I granted John Balch a “royal charter” allowing him to hold a market on Spital Square on Thursdays and Saturdays. Thus, Spitalfields Market was born.


An Immigrant Neighborhood

The market quickly grew, becoming one of London’s largest fruit and vegetable markets.

Originally a rural area, it soon attracted a growing population, including waves of immigrants: Huguenots from France and Irish weavers in the 17th century, Jews fleeing Russian pogroms in the 18th century, and more recently, a large community from Bangladesh.

When writer Charles Dickens visited the area in the mid-1850s, he described it as plagued by poverty, deprivation, and disease.


Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

In the 19th century, Spitalfields Market experienced a long decline. In 1876, Robert Horner, a former porter who had worked at the market, purchased the lease and constructed the Victorian halls we know today.

Fifteen years later, the City of London bought Spitalfields Market and expanded it.


Recent History

By the 1990s, the infrastructure of Spitalfields Market, still operating as a wholesale fruit and vegetable market, was in a deplorable state. The City of London relocated the market to the suburbs, renaming it “New Spitalfields Market.”

In the 2000s, private investors bought the nearly abandoned Old Spitalfields Market, completely renovating the Victorian building and expanding the market into what it is today.


💡 Did you know? 💡

The first victim of Jack the Ripper was discovered at Spitalfields Market.

Old Spitalfields Market - exterior

Old Spitalfields Market by the Numbers

  • Over 300 years of history
  • More than 40,000 visitors each week, with peak crowds on Sundays
  • Over 100 diverse stalls
  • Around 40 different dining options

Visiting Old Spitalfields Market in London

Like Covent Garden Market in central London, Old Spitalfields Market has evolved from a food market into a hub for shops and restaurants.

Nestled in a beautifully restored and expanded Victorian hall, surrounded by modern skyscrapers, Old Spitalfields Market is a must-visit for foodies, shopaholics, and curious explorers.
Let’s dive in!

Shops and Stalls at Spitalfields Market

Visitors are spoiled for choice with a mix of permanent shops and temporary stalls to satisfy their shopping desires.

Permanent Shops — Among the permanent shops at Old Spitalfields Market, you’ll find well-known brands like American Vintage, Dr. Martens, Flying Tiger, Lululemon, Aesop, and & Other Stories, alongside independent retailers. The market also hosts a hair salon, an optician, and even an artisan chocolatier.

Stalls — The market features over a hundred small stalls offering a variety of treasures: fashion, jewelry, accessories, cosmetics, crafts, artworks, collectibles, souvenirs, and organic products.

Schedule — The vendors vary throughout the week. On Thursdays, the market hosts an antiques fair, Fridays bring an art market, and on the first and third Fridays of each month, there’s a record and vinyl fair.

Spitalfields Market - London

Street Food Stalls and Restaurants at Spitalfields Market

Attention food lovers: Spitalfields Market is a paradise for your taste buds!

This covered market boasts nearly forty dining options, ranging from street food stalls to sit-down restaurants.

What’s on the menu? Burgers, fish & chips, kebabs, donuts, as well as Vietnamese, African, Indian, French, and Thai specialties. In short, there’s something for everyone!

In the dining area, you’ll find large communal tables where you can enjoy your culinary finds. If you prefer, the market also features several restaurants where you can sit and savor your meal.

Just a short walk south of the market, you’ll find The Gun, an iconic pub that has been open since 1860. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a pint in true English tradition!

Old Spitalfields Market - streetfood

Events

Old Spitalfields Market regularly hosts a variety of events, including concerts, exhibitions, and tastings.

Visitor Tips

Getting to Old Spitalfields Market

Old Spitalfields Market is located in the Tower Hamlets district in East London, just a stone’s throw from Brick Lane and Spitalfields City Farm.

The nearest public transports options are:

By Tube:

  • Liverpool Street: 5-minute walk
  • Shoreditch High St.: 7-minute walk
  • Aldgate East: 8-minute walk
  • Moorgate: 14-minute walk
  • Old Street: 16-minute walk

By Bus:

  • Brushfield Street (Route 67)
  • Primrose Street, Stop J (Routes 8, 26, 35, 48, 78, 135, 149, 205, 242, 388)

💡 Good to know 💡: The majority of Old Spitalfields Market is accessible to people with mobility issues.

Opening Hours of Old Spitalfields Market in London

Old Spitalfields Market is open every day of the year:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday: 10 AM to 6 PM
  • Thursday: 8 AM to 6 PM
  • Sunday: 10 AM to 5 PM

Please note, the hours for individual shops and restaurants may vary.

👉 Skip the lines: book your tickets and visits in advance!

👉 Find the perfect place to stay in London!


👉 Looking for recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ top tips for London!

🛏️ Accommodation: Hotels.com + Captain Ulysses’ detailed article: “Where to Stay in London?”

🎟️ Activities: GetYourGuide | Civitatis | Tiqets.

🎫 Citypasses: London Explorer Pass | London Pass

🚐 Transfers : Airport transfers

🚌 Local Transportation: Hop-on hop-off buses (with audio guide)

✈️ Getting to London: by plane: Skyscanner | by train : Eurostar


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