18/52 – Spitalfields Antiques Market
For seven days a week, Spitalfields, nestled in the heart of Shoreditch, plays host to a huge market selling everything from t-shirts, furniture, jewellery and bags to Sushi, fruit and flowers. The market itself is inside a huge shopping space surrounded by boutique cafés, shops and restaurants, and is just five minutes from Rough Trade Records on Brick Lane, making it a perfect detour if you’re exploring the area.
Above: These little noodle bars smell amazing! They’re not too pricey either if you’re after a mid-market snack.
On Thursdays, the market specialises in Antiques – and I would have to say that Thursday is definitely the best day to visit Spitalfields, if only to lose yourself among the labyrinth of traders, and poke through the most amazing collection of furniture and curiosities. Walking into the market on a Thursday morning (opening hours are from 8am until 6pm) feels to me like stepping into a ‘proper’ old-school London market – the kind of flea market/portobello road vibe that I always expected from London markets but never quite found, until now.
Above: These collections of ‘bits and bobs’ are irresistible. I love looking through everything and finding little treasures like lockets which still have faded pictures inside, or thimbles with little love notes engraved on the side.
The whole place becomes a total wonderland filled with the most weird and wonderful stalls selling everything you could think of, including glass jars and vases, old maps, vintage magazines, furniture, quality vintage clothes (lots of fur coats), retro homewares, jewellery – I even found the bones of a human foot lurking at the back of one of the hoards, and two stuffed guinea pigs gave me the fright of my life as I peered inside an antique suitcase. It’s genuinely incredible, and I could spend the whole day browsing through everything that was on offer.
Above: Unbelievably creepy human face masks, next to some charming vintage madeline tins. A boar’s head is a steal at just £200 😉
Most of the stalls don’t give price tags (I’m not even sure how you’d put a price on ‘an antelope’s foot turned into a coat hook’!), so feel free to bargain for the items you want. Smaller items seemed very reasonably priced, and even the bigger pieces such as furniture were really competitive, given that most of them are high quality, one of a kind pieces. Even if you’re not planning on buying anything, take some cash with you, because you never know what might steal your heart, and your debit card will be no good here! It’s definitely worth chatting to the owner of each stall, especially if you have something particular in mind for your home. They are so knowledgable and even if they don’t have what you’re after, they will often be able to point you in the direction of someone who does (a life saver in a market as tightly packed and maze-like as this one). I got so much inspiration from looking through everything that was on offer, the bright colours and bold look of some of the retro magazines is so beautiful, and some of the more unique pieces had so much style – I adore this sassy couple (and their mermaid friend is beyond gorgeous!)
Above: Coat hooks made from feet, anybody? (Is it bad that I actually think these are kind of beautiful?)
I really really had to force myself to resist some of the lovely vintage pieces. If there was more room in my bedroom (or any surfaces as yet uncluttered) I would have brought home so much! Even the vintage clothes, which I normally find overpriced, really caught my eye. They are still expensive, at £10-£15 for a shirt, but there was some really nice stuff, and no need to wade through piles of slightly smelly clothes to get to the good pieces, everything was displayed and curated with care and pride. #lovely
Just outside Spitalfields (on the brick lane side, exit next to the Lomography shop) is a big Urban Outfitters, Office and a Topman outlet. Nearby BoxPark is another great shopping destination for indie brands and niche designers, (and seeing as you’re headed that way you might as well drop in and get a bagel from Brick Lane Beigels). The nearest tube station for Spitalfields Market is either Liverpool Street (which has great underground and overground transport links), Shoreditch High Street, (which is right next to BoxPark), or Aldgate East. I would highly recommend visiting the market on a Thursday for the antiques, but don’t forget to check the website for any special events, or to find out which markets run on which days.
Above: the label for this tin absolutely cracked me up, ” Nice tin with plain but cheerful child “