Headed into London with our travel passes again, we like these because not only does it allow us to use trains, buses and the Tube but it also gives us 2 for one deals. But today we were going to check out Borough Market and wander the Southbank. While we were at we we had to get some photos of the Shard, it costs way too much to go to the viewing platform, £25 but at least we could get some cool pictures of it.
Borough market has been around in different forms for around a 1,000 years. The best date historians can figure out is around 1014. It has always been at the south end of London Bridge, which was the only route across the river from the 990’s until later centuries. Borough in Southwark has been home to the market for millenium due to its connections to both the north and south side of the City. A major artery for traders, military and folks coming to London it served as a respite for many and a place to hawks goods for others.
For a long time there were two recognized marketplaces around Borough. The smaller of these started in the grounds of St Thomas’ Hospital, at the southern entrance to London Bridge. In 1215, the hospital relocated to what is now St Thomas’ Street, and the market moved with it. The larger market sold a wide range of produce and traded on Wednesdays and Fridays was on the busy main highway near the foot of the bridge. Both markets caused major “traffic jams” and irritated the “crown” because they undercut the trading of the Cities own vendors. It wasn’t until 1406 that Henry IV granted the City authorities control over everything including taxes on both markets near the bridge.
In 1406, after some serious lobbying, Henry IV granted the City authorities “assay and assize of bread, wine, and ale and other victuals and of any other things belonging to the clerk of the market of the King’s household”. Southwarks’ market became, to all intents and purposes, an extension of London.
As London grew however the nature of the market meant that significant traffic and chaos grew around it and being in the middle of the road didn’t help. But in 1676 a huge fire swept through Borough destroying the market. The protests against the market meant that a new market must be re-located and land was acquired away from the main roads to build a new market. By 1757 the new and improved Borough Market was up and running.
Borough Market today has its roots firmly planted in the revival of interest in artisanal foods that began in the 1990’s. Some of the first pioneers at Borough were Neal’s Yard Dairy which has to be absolutely the best cheese shop in London and Brindisa which specializes in Spanish foods.
In 1998 a three day Food Lover’s Fair was held which showcased around 50 of the best producers in Britian. The event was a huge success and as a result the decision was made to hold a regular retail market at Brough on the 3rd Saturday of the month. This quickly changed to a weekly market with its popularity and success bolstered by endorsements from virtually every Chef in Britain.
Thanks in part to the encouragement of these traders, Henrietta Green was asked to hold a three day Food Lovers’ Fair at the Market in November 1998, which gathered together around 50 of the best food producers in Britain as part of the annual Southwark Festival. The event was a roaring success, with many traders selling out within hours.
Borough Market today is packed with vendors and shoppers, drinkers and those who come here just to eat. The oyster and porter shops are packed with oysters being sold for a £1 each, people spill over the sidewalks clutching their pints and snacking on all manner of delicious international and British foods. The stalls range from fishmongers to truffles and everything in between and everyone offers samples to tempt you. You can sit at the restaurants under the bridge and have a pitcher of Pimms or Sangria along with you chorizo on a bun or have a good old pint with your Scotch Egg.
Laura at Savoured Journeys has a fantastic blog piece about what to eat at the market that you really shouldn’t miss. Here is a quote from her piece.
“In Borough Market, you’ll find a few different kinds of food options. The places in this list can most accurately be defined as street food. There is a very nice line up of street food options along the outside wall of the market. There are probably about 10 stalls there, where you can stand in line for a sandwich or take-away plate of food. A few more street food options can be found throughout the market. If you can buy it outside and take it to go, we’re considering it street food.” from the Savoured Journeys website What to eat at Borough Market.
From the Market we took a bus down to Southbank to check out what was happening in that area. As usual it was packed with folks enjoying the views, having a slap up lunch or just taking in the buskers in their allocated spots entertaining the crowds. Southbank Centre takes up 21-acres on the South Bank of the Thames. Southbank Centre includes Royal Festival Hall,Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, the Hayward Gallery, and The Poetry Library. As well as these venues, there are restaurants, cafes, bars and shops to enjoy.
Southbank Centre is a world-famous arts centre was created in 1951 for the Festival of Britain, Southbank Centre draws on its heritage as a festival site, with art and activities inside and outside. There is a wide range of cultural events from spoken word to music and dance. There is even a skate park in the centre with a view of the Thames.
In 2015 the Southbank Centre Food Market began it showcases some of the best street food and produce available. The Market has quickly become one of London’s favourite foodie destinations. It is open each weekend and at Christmas time becomes a wonderful Christmas Market in the style of the European Christmas Villages.
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