Smithfield Market has a long, varied history. Whether you want a glimpse into the grisly past of England's capital, or just some excellent fresh meat to throw on the barbecue, Smithfield is a fascinating location.
Highlights and Features
- Livestock has been traded here for almost 1,000 years. It is now the largest EU-approved wholesale meat market in Europe.
- Start early, around 7am, to watch buyers and sellers interact. The market opens at 3am Monday to Friday. It is closed at weekends and on bank holidays.
- The area was used for jousting, tournaments and St Bartholomew's Fair in early medieval times. Wat Tyler, a leader of the Peasants' Revolt, met his untimely end here. It was also a place of execution for over 200 unfortunate souls who did not share Mary Tudor's religious views.
- The market is in the City of London, just a few minutes' walk from Farringdon and Barbican Tube stations. Once a month, qualified guides lead walking tours.
- Other local buildings of interest include St Bartholomew's Hospital and Farringdon Road, site of one of the last central London slum buildings.
- The architect who designed the new 1860s building in the market also designed Tower Bridge.
The 90 minute tour covers all aspects of the market including:
The fabric of the market which has evolved over a thousand years
The long and turbulent historcal past of Smithfield
The growth of the infamous cattle market
The gaiety of Bartholomew Fair which was the largest fair in 16th century London