East End Markets – Part 1

One thing that London has an abundance of is markets. On weekends, it seems that Londoners and visitors from everywhere hang out in them, no matter the weather.

The closest market to us is Smithfield, down the bottom of St John Street. It’s not really a ‘hanging around’ kind of market, but a serious wholesale one that buys, sells, probably even butchers, meat of all kinds. Like most wholesale markets, most the action takes place in the early hours of the morning. I’m not one to wake up so early (unless it’s from jet lag) so unfortunately I can’t tell you what it’s like.

I can however tell you about its history. Smithfield has been a livestock and butchers market since medieval times. Livestock used to be driven down St John Street to be slaughtered, although livestock weren’t the only things being butchered. Smithfield has also long been an execution spot, being not too far from the Tower of London. William Wallace (of Braveheart fame) was executed here, and many other deemed a heretic or dissident – quite a few during Tudor times.

Smithfield Market

Nowadays there aren’t any crowds crying out for blood, just a line of semi-trailers in the middle of the night, waiting to unload their meaty goods.

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