Borough Market and a couple of other bits

Sunday, December 15th 2013

This morning we had the weekly shopping to do, as usual. First, we had breakfast at Pret and then trundled the shopping trolley round to Sainsbury’s. It wasn’t a very nice day, as far as the weather was concerned, but, nothing daunted, after putting away the shopping and having a cup of tea, we went out again.

The Merchants Hall
The Merchants Hall
Nothing to do with the Livery Companies

We went to look for a shop we wanted to to visit but it wasn’t where we thought it was. Never mind, we found it eventually and on the way, I noticed this building in Essex Road. It was the name, The Merchants Hall, that caught my attention. London, especially the City area, is dotted with “halls” belonging to the ancient Livery Companies. I briefly wondered whether this was another such, though that seemed unlikely. In fact, it is just commercial premises, currently available for purchase or rent, and the name is fortuitous. There isn’t actually a Worshipful Company of Merchants, the nearest in name being the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors

Spiral staircase Spiral staircase
Spiral staircase
Southbank Centre

We next took a bus to Waterloo and went into the National Theatre on the Southbank. The annual exhibition of photography, The Press Photographer’s Year 2013, was being held. Despite the title, not all the pictures captured high drama and some were almost poetic in their rendering of scenes of nature. They confirmed my view that pointing the camera and clicking the shutter release is only part of the work of producing a good photo. The concrete spiral staircases at the Southbank always fascinate me. Painted in bold colours, they are made to be a “feature” of the site and while they are purely utilitarian I find them slightly sinister: their solid design means you cannot see what is waiting for you round the bend.

Borough Market
Borough Market
Nestling under the railway bridge

On the way home we passed through the Borough and went to have a look at Borough Market. One of the oldest and best known food markets of London, for both retail and wholesale, Borough Market has existed since ancient times. In fact, no one knows how old it is though it dates from well before William the Conqueror set foot on British soil.

Fill your basket with fruit and veg
Fill your basket with fruit and veg

The market, which has occupied different sites in the area at different times, recently suffered a good deal of disruption owning to the rebuilding of London Bridge Station. The market nestles under the railway bridge and a new bridge has been added to reduce the station’s famous bottleneck. While it was being built, the market had to be partially closed.

Crowds of people come to buy...
Crowds of people come to buy…
…or just to look

The market seems to be back on form again and today it was crowded. We were not the only people taking photographs and tourists were well represented.

Come and look...
Come and look…
…come and buy

Along with the well established big stalls, there are small ones, perhaps specializing in a single product from a single farm or market garden.

A cheese stall
A cheese stall

It is accepted that potential customers may sample the goods on display. Some bolder people take undue advantage of this and we know one person who sometimes “samples” enough to make a free lunch.

Markets are...
Markets are…
…such interesting places!

The market isn’t patronized only by “foodies” or the chefs of local restaurants. Anyone with a taste for quality goods can come here and find plenty of choice.

…Borough Market style

Borough Market is gearing up for Christmas and is decorated throughout with these wreath-shaped cornucopia displays. Are these real fruits and vegetables or clever imitations? It’s hard to tell and doesn’t really matter.

Food stalls
Food stalls
Traditional and not so traditional food on sale

As while as buying food to prepare later, you can eat on the spot and stalls sell a range of food and – yes! – some is vegetarian!

In the lap of Southwark Cathedral
In the lap of Southwark Cathedral

Borough Market sits in the lap of Southwark Cathedral, as it were, and this other famous landmark of the area is a brooding presence as you visit the market stalls. It too is worth a visit, whether or not you are religious, because, like the market, it is an ancient establishment with a lot of history behind it. That, however, will be for another day!

Copyright © 2013 SilverTiger,, All rights reserved.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington (N London) with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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2 Responses to Borough Market and a couple of other bits

  1. WOL says:

    I miss the open air markets. We don’t have them in my city, just the odd guy by the side of the road selling produce out of the back of his pickup. They are a lot more fun that a supermarket, and they have a wide and often unique variety of foods you won’t find on supermarket shelves. — And, a fully enclosed stair is one that can’t be jumped off of, a trade-off that has to be balanced against it’s potentially claustrophobic effect.

    • SilverTiger says:

      Markets are a tradition in Britain and there are market s in most larger towns and also in some of the smaller ones. Some markets have a history going back centuries and others are relatively new. Take-up is sporadic and while some markets are flourishing, others are struggling to survive.

      There are street markets, such as Chapel Market near us, which opens every day except Monday, and covered markets, such as Borough Market. The street market sellers have to set up and take down their stalls every market day whereas the stalls in the covered markets can be more permanent and thus come to resemble shops. Street markets enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the shops in the street, customers moving naturally from one to the other, while covered markets often find that high streets and shopping centres (malls) are in competition with them.

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