In a Retail Tradition Dating Back 1,000 Years
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FROM THE SQUARE in the market town to the permanent covered markets of the cities, England is awash in street markets and marketplaces—many in existence for centuries under grant from the monarch. Perhaps nothing so illustrates timeless England as its markets. Here are 10 great market visits to catch if you happen to be in the neighborhood.
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1 BOROUGH MARKET, LONDON
London’s premier food market, held Thursday-Saturday, lies just south of London Bridge. Comestibles beyond imagination from around the world, varieties of olives, mushrooms and cheeses you’ve never seen, patisseries, artisanal delicacies from jams to patés,mountains of weird and wonderful produce and more.
2 NORWICH MARKET
From artisanal breads to watch repair, antique tools and seafood fresh from the North Sea: You’ll find it all in the warren of colorful stalls that fill the piazza of Norwich city center. The narrow lanes of semi-fixed booths are crowded daily at England’s largest permanent street market.
3 OXFORD COVERED MARKET
Tucked unobtrusively off the bustling High Street not far from Carfax Tower, Oxford’s daily covered market is easy to miss, but should not be. In addition to the customary butchers, fishmongers and upscale market bic-a-brac, you’ll find the most fabulous delis and market food options anywhere in the kingdom.
4 LUDLOW MARKET
The acknowledged foodie town of the Marches is the place to go to market. Produce, meats and artisan foods from the surrounding district take pride of place; flowers, country crafts and neighborliness complete the scene. Then, pick a nice place around the square for lunch. You can’t go wrong in Ludlow.
5 BERWICK STREET MARKET, LONDON
The archetypal London street market has been hawking fruit, vegetables and general market goods in the heart of Soho six days a week since the 18th century. Shops and delis line the street. Here’s a great reason to visit Soho and see a bit of living history.
6 DORCHESTER MARKET
Wednesday is Market Day in Dorset’s county town. The market place lies just south of town center, where more than 500 pitches set up, including 150 under cover in the old cattle market. Great local farm produce, of course, as well as second-hand goods and antiques. It’s a granddaddy of country markets.
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7 NEWGATE MARKET, YORK
Between Parliament Street and the Shambles, York’s Newgate Market features 110 stalls in Europe’s largest pedestrianized market square. A kaleidoscope of street traders offers meat, dairy, produce, foodstuffs, antiques, clothing, household goods and more, seven days a week.
8 WALLINGFORD MARKET
The pretty Thames-side market town in South Oxfordshire always seems to have a market going of some sort. In addition to Wallingford’s general market, there are farmers’ markets and those devoted to local produce. Worth visiting by itself is the market square; ‘tis an undiscovered gem.
9 DURHAM MARKET
Durham has it both ways. The Durham indoor market hosts 50 traders and 14 food outlets in the Victorian market hall in the city’s center. Just outside, the market place hosts monthly farmers’ markets as well as periodical Continental markets and food festivals. Hard to beat.
10 SALISBURY CHARTER MARKET
Tuesdays and Saturdays are market days in the shadow of Salisbury’s 15th-century Poultry Cross. Some 150 traders deal in everything from locally smoked trout and local wines to haberdashery, kitchenware and Mediterranean vegetables—where they’ve been holding markets regularly since 1227.