With a long and impressive history, Borough Market is one of London’s oldest and largest markets, selling speciality foods to more than 4.5 million visitors annually
- Brace yourself for the world’s hottest chilli, the 1.5 million Scovill-rated Carolina Reaper, which is lying in wait for you at the Spice Mountain shop
- Dive into Gelateria 3BIS to cool down with some authentic Italian ice cream after the Carolina Reaper
- Check out the Grade II portico which was re-sited to Borough Market from the old Royal Opera House’s Floral Hall in 2004
What to see and do
Try to decide which street food you’ll eat
There are so many options from all over the world in Borough Market that you might find choosing difficult. One good idea is to visit the market with a few friends so that you can all pick out something different and share it around. There’s Iraqi, Cypriot, British, Italian, Spanish, Malaysian clay-pot, Thai, salt-beef bagels and so much more.
Wander about, get lost, then find your bearings
It’s easy to get lost in this sprawling and noisy marketplace but at least you’ll have plenty of food and drink to sustain you! You’ll be able to spot the various architectural features of the market’s building, especially the old market’s glazed roof, which you’ll find on Stoney Street, and the 1932 art deco entrance on Southwark Street.
Talk to the traders about their wares and sample a few
As an artisanal and specialist food market, you can be sure that each stallholder is more than happy to chat to you about their products. Very often, there’ll be samples already laid out for you to try but if there’s not, you can always ask for a cheeky swig or sliver of something that you fancy.
Did you know? (4 Interesting Facts)
- Although the earliest known record of the market is from 1276, it’s probable that it existed since the 990s or even earlier. Trading first happened at an area next to the original London Bridge before migrating further down the high street and Borough Market has been at its current site since 1756.
- The early bird catches the worm. However, it must be a bird that’s in wholesale rather than retail. Borough Market opens at 2.00 am on weekdays for wholesalers to buy stock. The public market opens at 10.00 am on weekdays and 8.00 am on Saturdays.
- Look out for an old bell. A bailiff used to ring a bell to sound the start and end of the day’s trading. This duty was still one of the market rules when the current market started back in 1857 and you can still see the bell in Middle Road.
- Borough Market has hit the screens a few times. The market has appeared in several films, including Bridget Jones’ Baby – Bridget’s flat is the one above the market’s Globe Tavern. Some important scenes in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels were filmed in the market.
- 1000: Shortly after the construction of London’s first medieval bridge, the road that’s now Borough High Street connected the walled city of London with the traders to the south.
- 1270s: London’s markets and traders saw the early Borough Market as tough competition and so London City authorities banned its citizens from crossing the bridge into Southwark to buy “corn, cattle or other merchandise,”.
- 1406: Henry IV allowed London traders to sell “bread, wine, ale and other victuals” at the Borough Market, which smoothed things over somewhat.
- 1550: Edward VI sold Southwark to the City of London for £1,000, which created the Ward of Bridge Without. This magical-sounding place had the market at its heart.
- 1600s: Borough Market traders came under increasingly strict and regimented regulations in order to promote fair pricing and to maintain the quality of goods.
- 1754: A parliamentary bill ordered the market to stop trading by March 25 1756 as it was blocking the only major southern road into London. Local residents decided to start a new market away from the high street and raised £6,000 to buy an area of land known as The Triangle – the market’s new home.
- 1800s: Industrialisation led to a population boom and the market even had its own railway line by 1862. Borough Market became more of a wholesale provider, selling fruit and vegetables to the city’s greengrocers.
- 1970s: The proliferation of supermarkets, as well as the construction of the New Covent Garden market, caused Borough Market to fall into a steep decline.
- 1990s: The growth of interest in artisanal and organic foods led to specialist producers moving into abandoned warehouses in the area and in 1998 a three-day Food Lovers’ Fair was held at the market.
- 1998-onwards: The huge success of the fair led to the establishment of a monthly retail market, which went on to become weekly and then daily. Borough Market was once more a bustling and vibrant bazaar, attracting
Facilities and accessibility
As Borough Market is entirely at ground level, there are no stairs or lifts in the public areas. Be aware, however, that the floor surfaces vary and some may be harder to traverse than others if you have mobility issues. Some parts of the market are cobbled and the passageways vary in width from 1.5 metres to four metres.
There are four fully-accessible toilets, each with an emergency pull-string, within the market. You don’t need a Radar key.
Communal seating is available within the market hall and in Borough Market Kitchen during trading hours.
The nearest tube station is London Bridge on the Jubilee line.
All dogs are welcome throughout the market as long as they’re well-behaved and either on a lead or in a carrier. Some of the bars, cafes and shops might not allow them in, however, so always check before you enter.