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The History of Markets in London

At the Market

A walk through London’s history…

Urban Makers at Old Spitalfields Market, Pedddle

The history of markets in London is vast, and there are some fabulous markets and events running all across the city, regularly, to this day. Not just your traditional markets, but everything from indoor markets and food courts to vegan fairs, to gatherings of artisan crafters and makers.

London is not only our vibrant capital but was also once Britain’s epicentre of commerce, and the history of markets in London can be traced back to Roman times (but markets are likely to have taken place even before then).

Check out our blog on visiting markets in London to see what London has to offer today or scroll on down to read more about the history of markets in London.

The History of Markets in London

The History of Markets in London

The first wares were sold at a site near the Roman Forum, which was near where the beautiful Leadenhall Market now stands. In fact, some markets at Leadenhall run to this day! Check out SoLo Craft Fair, who are running markets there in summer 2024.

Markets in London developed over the years in the Cheapside area, expanding in the Middle Ages to where Borough Market now stands.

In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, regular markets became more established in Britain and grew in popularity, no longer just for essentials like farmer’s markets, but as a place to visit and meet people. In the 1680s, London’s Spitalfields market was established, and with it grew a strong sense of community – something that is treasured amongst its stallholders to this day. 

Nowadays, Spitalfields is home to the wonderful Urban Makers markets, which take place on Wednesdays and at the weekends

During the 19th century, social commentary became popular – as seen in the great literary works of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and many more iconic writers. Markets became a way of meeting people, and many famous literary works include colourful descriptions of market traders and the type of goods sold, which in turn highlighted what London life was like. 

With more and more pop-ups on the scene, London’s markets remain a hub of activity and commerce to this day, and although the markets are on hold during this period of social isolation, we are sure they will return bigger and better than ever. 

Looking for modern pop-ups across London? Check out this blog to see what’s coming up.

Keeping history alive 

Vintage markets take place all over the country, and what better way to keep history alive than by celebrating beautiful vintage products? You can shop online from most of Pedddle’s stallholders, so you can still get your market fix whilst on lockdown. 

If you’re missing the markets and still want a taste of history to enjoy, why not browse through Mr G Loves Miss B’s selection of vintage goods? You can find everything from old binoculars and Italian painted trays to vintage typewriters and quirky or retro homeware. Vintage Whatnots is a family-run vintage and antiques store, where every product has its own story, so you can take a piece of history home with you. Find them on Pedddle to see what’s on offer!

Looking for other markets in London?

There’s every kind of market you can think of, from the vintage markets mentioned to vegan markets, craft markets, food markets and much, much more.

Check out what’s coming up next…

Upcoming Markets in London

See all markets in London