Day 3. Spitalfields Market and Shoreditch, London

Our day started with a visit to Spitalfields Market and on the way there we stopped to take a look at one of the 13 cast iron statues marking the boundaries of the City of London.  The dragon symbol is thought to have been derived from the legend of St. George.

City of London Boundary Marker
City of London Boundary Marker

Moving on we soon arrived at Spitalfields, a short walk from Liverpool Street station.  It’s one of London’s oldest markets which from its small beginnings in the 17th century, grew to become a major centre in London for the sale of fresh produce.  Over the last 20 years it has been sympathetically transformed and is now home to an array of upscale independent stallholders offering hand crafted gifts, clothes, artwork and jewellery.

Old Spitalfields Market
Old Spitalfields Market

It’s a lovely, vibrant place for a wander as the surrounding streets are home to fashion stores and quirky boutiques, some based in the historic former Fruit and Wool Exchange.  There’s food for every budget too from restaurants to street food trucks serving up a wide variety of tasty dishes.

Spitalfields Market, London
Spitalfields Market, London

Dotted around the market area are a collection of 21 life sized bronze elephants installed just over a year ago by artists Gillie and Marc.  This installation named Herd of Hope represents a mother and 20 orphaned elephants embarking on a journey across London when the family become separated.

The Herd of Hope, Spitalfields, London
The Herd of Hope, Spitalfields, London

Outside the main courtyard of the market we spotted another interesting installation ‘Together Forever on Wheels’ by the same artists.  The rabbit headed woman and a dog headed man setting off on a motorbike ride made us smile as we wandered by.

Together forever on Wheels, Spitalfields, London
Together forever on Wheels, Spitalfields

Not far from Spitalfields Market on Fulgate Street is Dennis Severs House, the Georgian terraced house that he owned and lived in until his death.  Since 1980 the house has been open to visitors telling the story about an imaginary family of Huguenot silk weavers in 18th and 19th century Spitalfields.  (Tours £15 Thursday-Sunday from 12.00 noon).  The house was closed when we visited but I’d like to have an opportunity to visit sometime.

Dennis Severs House, Spitalfields, London
Dennis Severs House, Spitalfields, London

Our morning stroll continued onto Shoreditch, a vibrant creative hub in the East End of London.  Brick Lane lies at its heart with this narrow street becoming a mecca for artists and bohemians thanks to its colourful street art, vintage shops and enticing street food.  The area attracts both locals and tourists who come to its Sunday market to browse its stalls cram packed with bric-a-brac, clothing, jewellery and gifts.

Brick Lane, London
Brick Lane, London

From there we made our way to Aldgate East underground station but just as we were approaching we noticed Whitechapel Gallery located next door in a historic building.  Admittance is free so we stepped inside to take a look.  One of the exhibitions was entitled ‘Travel Bureau’ so that seemed the perfect gallery for us to explore.

Whitechapel Gallery, London
Whitechapel Gallery, London

After leaving the gallery we took the District and Circle line to St. James’ Park which we then strolled through towards Buckingham Palace before continuing across Green Park to Piccadilly.  The Royal Parks are delightful whatever the time of year and lovely green spaces to enjoy a picnic in on warmer days.

St James' Park London
St James’ Park London

We’d come along to Piccadilly as we’d pre-arranged a timed entry slot to visit the Royal Academy.  As we were slightly early it was the perfect excuse to pop into Fortnum and Mason, the luxury department store opposite.  It’s always a treat to look around the store admiring its fine crystal, porcelain and large selection of teas.

Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly, London
Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly

It was then over the road to the Royal Academy based in Burlington House.  It’s home to Britain’s largest established art school and renowned for putting on world class exhibitions of arts from around the world.

Royal Academy, Piccadilly, London
Royal Academy, Piccadilly

We’d come to see the exhibition Late Constable spanning the final 12 years of one of Britain’s best loved artist’s life until his untimely death in 1837.  The exhibition included paintings, drawings and sketches.

Royal Academy, Piccadilly
The Royal Academy

Afterwards, we explored the building which is absolutely beautiful with its grand staircases and marble pillars.  Its stylish cafes, restaurant and gift shop are open to non ticket holders and a lovely place to stop off for coffee or lunch.

Late Constable exhibition at the Royal Academy
Late Constable exhibition at the Royal Academy

From Piccadilly it was just a short walk onto Leicester Square where we were just in time to view the Swiss Clock and Glockenspiel chime 3.00 p.m.  The clock originates from the Swiss Centre which was demolished in 2008 sadly taking the original clock with it.  A replica has since been installed which is 10m high featuring a selection of moving figures representing traditional Swiss farmers with a rotating alpine scene.  It’s a lovely sight to see in such a lively part of the West End.

Swiss Clock, Leicester Square, London
The Swiss Clock in Leicester Square

The area around Leicester Square is famed for its theatres and restaurants and we enjoyed having a wander around as it was falling dark before finding somewhere to eat dinner before taking the train home.

Leicester Square, London
Leicester Square, London

We’d loved being tourists in our own capital city spending time exploring many of London’s iconic landmarks.  I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts as whether you live in the U.K. or elsewhere, London is always an exciting city to visit and impossible to tire of.

Our weekend in London was supported by Visit London and as always all views and opinions are entirely my own.

 

If you have enjoyed reading this post you may also like:

A weekend in Greenwich

Regent’s Canal Walk: King’s Cross to Paddington

 

If you use Pinterest please consider sharing and pinning the image below:

Spitalfields Market & Brick Lane, London

 

48 thoughts on “Day 3. Spitalfields Market and Shoreditch, London

  1. We visited several lovely London markets, but not Spitalfields. In fact, the whole of the East End is something we’ll have to tackle on one of our future London trips. Looks like you had a lovely day with so many varied experiences. I love the Gillie and Marc statues, they seem fun and playful, while dealing with such immense concepts as hope and having coffee on a Vespa 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Marion. Hope that you are enjoying this spell of nice summer weather.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking an interest in this series of posts on London, Leighton. We had a lovely weekend, it just sped by too quickly. I’ll look forward to reading about your week long stay in due course too as I’m sure you visited some places unfamiliar to me! The weather is indeed gorgeous, let’s hope the settled spell continues awhile for us all to enjoy. Have a great weekend, any plans? M.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh Marion, I wish I could say my London posts from last month could be out within the next… two years maybe? Seems unlikely, with all the stuff that remains unpublished. This Sunday we are heading up to my uncle’s in Carnforth… IF he is clear of COVID by Sunday morning. Sigh. How about you?

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  2. Wow, Spitalfields Market looks so charming with the lights! Never heard of it, but it looks to be a lovely little place to wander around and window shop (or stall shop, however you call it). I’ve passed through Leicester Square, and I recall getting fish and chips at one of the restaurants there, but that was about it (and the fish and chips were overpriced and mediocre– I learned my lesson not to get them in London!). Another wonderful day exploring London, and I’m glad it was a fruitful trip!

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    1. Spitalfields / Shoreditch are lovely places for a wander especially at weekends Rebecca. I know what you mean about Leicester Square, there are some really nice restaurants dotted around but care needs to be taken as some are too touristy. Hope you have a great weekend.

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  3. You certainly covered a lot of ground that day Marion. Amazing what you can see when you put one foot in front of another. We have never been to Spitalfields. The Market and whimsical art make the whole place interesting. Thanks for sharing your local day out. Allan

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  4. I LOVE the fact that you can spend the day taking in beautiful views and learning more about a place instead of what we do this end of the world. Most times people, myself included end up partying and drinking because there’s nothing else fulfilling to do. I’ve added London on my bucket list before my passport expires, it looks like such a beautiful place from the pictures you shared 🙂

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  5. Oh, I love a market … and the Old Spitalfields Market looks like a wonderful place to visit! And how amazing are those elephant statues (and the idea behind it). And I love the Swiss Clock – how lovely! I enjoyed your tour through London Marion – thanks for taking me along!

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      1. I always enjoy reading your posts Marion as they’re so informative, though I don’t always comment. I worked not far from the Whitechapel and I held a number of off-site events here, plus I loved its exhibitions. Not necessarily stuff you would hang on your lounge wall but always thought provoking.

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