At a ripe old age of more than 1,000 years, Borough Market is London’s longest-standing food market. It will also keep you on your feet for a fair amount of time (there are many stalls to peruse and even more mouths to feed) so before you head in, nip to Monmouth Coffee Company for a caffeine hit.
Local farmers and fishermen have been selling their produce on the south side of London Bridge since 1014, scooting over to Borough High Street in the 13th century. Fast-forward past a bad patch and a stint as a wholesale market and you reach the 1990s, when the traders acquired some new neighbours (enter Monmouth Coffee, Neal’s Yard Dairy et al) who set up shop in nearby empty warehouses. It was their arrival, along with the revival in artisan foods (and the support of some friendly trustees), that transformed the market into a food mecca.
The sacks of grain and bleating livestock may be gone but there’s still an array of produce, from poultry and fresh seafood to cured meats, seasonal vegetables and splendidly smelly cheese. Plus, many of the stallholders continue to be producers themselves: don’t miss the family-run winemakers and seventh-generation oystermen.
As hand-dived scallops from Dorset are sold alongside tea from Sri Lanka, what started as a British story is now a truly global affair.
Borough Market is open Monday to Saturday. 8 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TL.
Photo: Hannah Hoskins.