Discover London’s top 5 flea markets
While London is known for its designer boutiques and world-class department stores, you may want to take a different approach to finding a unique souvenir of your visit. The city’s flea markets are a treasure trove of genuine antiques and quirky memorabilia that you won’t find anywhere else.
Return home with a vintage map, a new piece of vintage clothing or a rare addition to your record collection at one of these historic markets.
Bermondsey Antiques Market
Londoners have been trading goods at this market in Bermondsey Square since 1855 and there are some real gems to be found. The most sought-after items go quickly, so it’s worth sacrificing a lie-in and getting to this market as close to opening time as possible.
Some of the treasures you are likely to find are rare pieces of chinaware, cut glass vessels and silverware that simply cannot be bought in most shops. A vintage map or an 18th-century painting could be just the piece that you are looking for to complete a room when you return home.
Bermondsey Antique Market is held each Friday from 06:00 to 14:00.
Brick Lane Market
Brick Lane Market is not just one set of stallholders, but a conglomeration of several markets that turn Sundays in the East End into a hive of activity. Among the attractions are the UpMarket, which takes residence inside the Old Truman Brewery, as well as streets performers and an abundance of delicious food.
Perhaps you will find a piece of art deco furniture, unlike anything that is made today, or some fine silk in a vibrant colour. Leaf through the piles of retro vinyl and see if you can spot an old favourite or something unusual to expand your collection.
Stop by Brick Lane Market between 10:00 and 17:00 on a Sunday.
Greenwich has held a royal charter for a market since 1700 when it was signed for 1,000 years. Much has changed since then, including the location, the building of a wooden roof and now a steel-framed canopy over the stalls, as well as a focus on arts, crafts, vintage clothes, antiques and old books, instead of live animals, fruit, vegetables and meat.
Regular stallholders include antique and vintage living specialists, a historic headwear company, a camera collector and a jewellery showcase. So whether you are after an elegant brooch to compliment an evening outfit or a retro camera to snap pictures of Buckingham Palace, you are sure to make a charming find.
Greenwich Market is open daily between 10:00 and 17:30, but specialises in antiques and collectables on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Once a month, the vintage market stays open until 23:00.
Another market that has split its offering into themed days is the Jubilee Market in Covent Garden. The bunting and brass signage set the tone for the Grade II-listed building, which has been welcoming traders since 1904 and continues to host specialist stallholders, who will be happy to help with any enquiries and unearth the most interesting of treasures, if you have something specific in mind.
The vendors at the Jubilee Market are experts in their respective fields, many of them having sold their wares at the location for decades. Look out for some of the local legends that have become well-known at the market, such as ‘John the Hat’. Fine porcelain, delicate tableware, vintage comics and precious jewellery can all be found on the antiques day.
Make your way to the Jubilee Market on a Monday between 05:00 and 17:00 if it is antiques and collectables that you covet. The weekend arts and crafts market is held from 10:00 to 18:00.
Old Spitalfields Market
The original 1887 market hall and shopping precinct next door have had a renovation to create the sprawling modern-day Spitalfields Market. While it is safe to say that it can be all things to all people, with lots of stalls on offer, there are still some vintage gems to be discovered. Visit on a Friday to stock up on your '60s psychedelia and '80s reggae, as this is when the vinyl market is held.
Get yourself a pair of genuine vintage spectacles, a rare designer piece or a Liberty print shirt that will make you stand out from the crowd. If it is antiques that you are looking for, then Thursdays are the best opportunity to have a good rummage. This is when the specialist traders and collectors descend on Spitalfields; but as always, the earlier you arrive, the better your chance of snapping up a distinctive item to remember your trip to London by.
Old Spitalfields Market is open every day from 10:00 to 17:00 and an hour later on Saturdays.
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