Rediscovering Some of London Markets

22 April 2009

These photos are from a London markets story that I shot for a US travel magazine a few months ago – I love visiting any sort of markets, and London is certainly not short of interesting ones. I had fun meeting lovely people as well as finding new favourite spots, so wanted to share some of them here.

Columbia Road Flower Market

Every Sunday, this East End street becomes packed with flowers and plants. It’s so colourful and characteristic – you can buy everything from seeds to trees and it attracts a broad demographic from young to old. (It gets extremely busy in the summer, so you should head there early unless you’re specifically looking for closing-time bargains.) I actually shot this market for a Japanese lifestyle magazine last year – and it was lovely to go back to some of the shops and see their owners too.

Although it is a flower market and just finding some fresh blooms for your home is fun, there are many great shops along the street that you also shouldn’t miss. One of the latest additions is Ryan Town – a beautiful little shop selling work of artist Rob Ryan. I’ve been a huge fan of his work and it puts a smile on my face every time I stop by.

Vintage Heaven has loads of lovely kitsch housewares but just going to see the delightful owner, Margaret, is worth the trip :) At the back of the shop you’ll find a cosy cafe – you can enjoy cream tea and other homemade cakes, served on varied mismatched china pieces – that are also for sale.

L’Orangerie (162 Columbia Rd) is another shop that I just can’t leave empty handed – the owner Catherine collects beautiful accessories from all over Europe which are not only eclectic and colourful but also affordable.

If you’re a cupcake fan, don’t miss Treacle – I’m not really a cupcake person myself, but can’t pass this cute shop without a quick peek. My other favourites are Elphick’s, Two Columbia Road and B. Southgate.

Although you can have fun all day just wandering around Columbia Road, I also recommend checking out Old Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane to soak up the East End sprit :) Oh and try to get to Cheshire street if you can – there are some cute little shops like Mar Mar Co., Shelf and Labour and Wait there.

Most shops in the area are only open at weekends, so check their opening hours before you head out.

Broadway Market

Broadway hosts another lively East End market – I’ve wanted to visit this place for a while and I’m glad I finally had a chance.

You can tell straight away that the market has a distinctive character – both the sellers and the shoppers. As Tamami (who has a lovely cake stall in this market but unfortunately wasn’t there when I went) puts it, “It has a village-like atmosphere, full of ‘real’ London charm.“ and I couldn’t agree more :)

Although it’s primarily a farmer’s market, you’ll find all sorts of things here – I especially liked an art book stall whose owner was a photo expert – and told me off for spending money on expensive camera gear instead of good books :)

If you’re into vintage stuff, check out a lovely shop called Stella Blunt (75 Broadway), I’m a fan of her eclectic collections. Opposite, the Cat & Mutton serves delicious rustic food.

Alfies Antique Market

This has been my favourite market for a long time – I used to live in the neighbourhood and always loved to browse, although there aren’t many things I can afford – this is a place for serious collectors.

You’re likely to be welcomed by one of stall owners along lines of ‘wander around and get lost’ :) This indoor market is a maze of antiques and a huge variety of vintage furniture, clothing and memorabilia. I normally have my eye on furniture or collectables, but this time I needed to take some photos of something different – covering a pin-up shoot.

I didn’t know much about pin-ups (Matthew seemed to know better and was more excited about the job than me :)), but I had great fun!

The Girl Can’t Help It has a massive collection of mid 20th century vintage clothing – it’s so much fun just browsing and the perfect place to find something for a glamour photo shoot. (speaking of vintage clothes, I can’t get enough of Mad Men – I love everything about them.)

We had a gorgeous model, Tasha, on that day for a shoot – for me, it was just fascinating to watch her preparing – she had her hair done at Nina’s Hair Parlour, and make-up at Issidora’s Powder Room next door. Once she was ready, glamour photographer Tony at Casting Couch took over for the shoot with help from stylist Shona. I was a bit worried that I might feel out of place, but everyone was relaxed and having fun – thanks again everyone for the help!

Borough Market

You probably won’t need an introduction for this famous food market located near London Bridge. It attracts massive crowds on Saturdays – I must confess I preferred it when it wasn’t so busy and touristy… but when I have a chance to go, I still stock up on yummy goods at the Ginger Pig, Neal’s Yard, Brindisa and Monmouth Coffee etc. It’s certainly worth visiting if you’ve never been – you’ll see a huge diversity of produce from Europe and the UK which is definitely one of the good reasons to live in London.

There are many more great markets in London that I haven’t yet had a chance to visit – hopefully I can write about them sometime, and please let me know your favourites too!

Places    Misc    71 comments    Permalink

  • Thank you always for lovely posts.


    Posted by cocopuff1212 | 22 April 2009 #
  • I stumbled upon Columbia Road Market by sheer chance last sunday. It was like entering a fairy tale.

    Posted by Jökull | 22 April 2009 #
  • Hello Keiko san!
    Trust me for not trading the day you were visiting my market…! Such a shame – I’ve been hoping to meet you for ages y’know! もしまた機会があったら今度、ゆっくりお茶でもしましょう、ね? xxx

    Posted by tamami | 22 April 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    great post as always!

    I am off to London this weekend. Thanks for posting these lovely markets. They are most on my lists on this trip. You have very good eyes indeed : )

    Posted by kaewlery | 22 April 2009 #
  • Hey,

    I would have liked to visit the flower market while I was in London this time – a friend of mine lives nearby and said I’d love it, which I’m sure I will. Well next time then. I, too, liked Borough back when it wasn’t mobbed with tourists like it is now, but let’s face it I’m one of them, so what can I say… :p Hope all is well with you. x

    Posted by chika | 23 April 2009 #
  • Beautifully capture as usual. Will remember this places next time I go to London. I just so painful sometimes to go to market and can’t buy the produce because I stay in the hotel.

    Posted by elra | 23 April 2009 #
  • Awww… as a big fan of markets, your article and photos make me wanna fly to London! (in fact I’m thinking of another bullet travel now;) Really inviting!!

    Posted by akane | 23 April 2009 #
  • Hajimemashite Keiko-san!
    I recently have been introduced to your work and it is absolutely wonderful. The images you capture are fantastic. You capture my two favorite loves…Japanese desserts and photography. I makes me miss the childhood summers I spent in Nagoya with my Oba-chan. Every few days, we would walk to the local bakery and pick out a few delicious pieces. The delicacy of taste and presentation can’t be beat. Thank you for sharing your talents.

    Posted by Yumi | 23 April 2009 #
  • Keiko… I just love Love LOVE your photos! And it looks like you’ve had a great time meandering the markets. Been lurking on your websites for a few years now finally have the courage to ask – what your camera kit comprises of – specifically, what lens do you use? Please keep sharing your lovely images of life.

    Posted by Zamina | 23 April 2009 #
  • Your photos make me miss London so much! (Especially the Borough Market.) Just gorgeous.

    Posted by Elle | 23 April 2009 #
  • that was really worth the wait! thanks again for superb photographs, I always enjoy looking at your blog.

    Posted by 3 | 23 April 2009 #
  • I only know the faboulus Borrough market, so thank you for these others places !!

    Posted by Mercotte | 23 April 2009 #
  • Stunning photography- as always. Your images are truly beautiful. The fashion shots remind me of the photos by Jacques Henri Lartigue. Classy and elegant. I love your market shots and the interiors of the shops and cafes always look so inviting. Thank you for sharing your photos.

    Posted by Kirsten | 23 April 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko!! Welcome back :)
    This reportage is absolutely wonderful!!! I’d like to fly immediately there…
    I was waiting for some new photos… it worth the wait!!!
    Ciao from chiara

    Posted by chiara.u | 23 April 2009 #
  • Thank you for the walk. I’ve travelled thanks to your photos. I miss London!

    Posted by Dominique (de vous à moi...) | 23 April 2009 #
  • Great post! The information is very useful. I need to make a tour to all these since living in London. Thanks for sharing, Keiko!

    Posted by mycookinghut | 23 April 2009 #
  • Thanks for sharing Keiko, the pictures are wonderful, it’s really make my day, so fresh and beautiful!

    Posted by eugeniagina | 23 April 2009 #
  • breathtaking!

    Posted by aran | 23 April 2009 #
  • Makes me want to confirm a ticket to London immediately! Thanks Keiko!!! Love it. This will help me plan my itenary for my next visit to London. Lovely post. :)))

    Posted by Nur Suraya | 24 April 2009 #
  • It looks wonderful Keiko. So much to see and get lost in.

    Posted by barbara | 24 April 2009 #
  • You make London seem much nicer than it really is! Amazing what good photography can do. ;)

    Posted by Murasaki Shikibu | 24 April 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko san,
    I always get really excited when you update your blog!!!!!
    Hope all is well!!!!


    Posted by joyce | 25 April 2009 #
  • Absolutely amazing pictures! I’ve been to a few of these spots, but not all so I’ve added the ones I haven’t to my must see before I move back home from London list. I’m a bit food market obsessed so I’ll have to check out some of the markets with other inspirations.

    Posted by gastroanthropologist | 25 April 2009 #
  • YAY! An update! :)
    Once again, beautiful pictures and great article. Reading your words took me back to the time when I used to live in London, a few blocks away from Portobello Market. I really miss the city! Hopefully I’ll be visiting sometime this year…


    Posted by Foodie Notes | 26 April 2009 #
  • Keiko,
    I always stop in for a look, inspiration, beauty all reign here! As well you know a mutual friend in Turkey, Dilara Erbay!
    I got that pastry book, the one in Japanese, thankfully it’s got some French in it too, works!

    Posted by Jeremy | 26 April 2009 #
  • I love your long detailed posts! Can’t wait to visit some of these places on my next trip to London.

    Posted by doris | 26 April 2009 #
  • Hi all – thank you so much for your kind notes as always.

    Cocopuff-san – フランスのどのあたりに越されるのしょう、落ち着いたらぜひ遊びにいらしてくださいね。

    Tamami-san – will email you soon, really looking forward to seeing you!

    Kaewlery – have a great time!

    Elra – I know exactly what you mean, I feel the same every time I travel :)

    Akane-san – もしかしてイギリスに来られるのかしら、ぜひ知らせてくださいね。

    Yumi-san – thank you and I hope I can share more about Japanese desserts here…

    Zamina – I use a Canon 5D with mostly 50mm and 90mm. When I travel I use 135mm too.

    Kirsten – I’m totally honoured!

    Barbara – I hope you can come visit sometime!

    Murasaki shikibu – oh I love London ;) I wouldn’t say everything is fantastic, but there are many great things here.

    Foodie Notes – hopefully I can write about the market sometime too!

    Jeremy – how lovely you know Dilara, I’m hoping to go back to Turkey sometime soon. Great you’re enjoying the book, let me know if you need any help.

    Posted by keiko | 27 April 2009 #
  • Love your website and photos. I will visit again.

    Posted by Emma | 27 April 2009 #
  • Dear Keiko,

    lovely lovely post as always can’t wait to visit Columbia market and revisit some of the others. Seeing u asked, woudl love to see something on country markets not too far from london ?
    take care
    liz from paris

    Posted by liz | 27 April 2009 #
  • I love your work!I shall return for a virtual walk soon!

    Posted by kostas | 27 April 2009 #
  • Gorgeous pictures! I live in London, and love markets..though I haven’t had the chance to visit many of them. The Columbia Road Flower Market being one. But once I read about enjoying cream tea in the back of Vintage Heaven, I’m sold! Dragging my boyfriend there whether he likes it or not!

    I’m surprised you didn’t cover Portobello Market. I work very close by and there are so many nice stalls and shops. Anyway, thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures.

    Posted by may | 27 April 2009 #
  • Another stunning post. Your blog makes me super happy! I can only hope that one day my photographic eye will be as amazing as yours. :)

    Posted by Olivia | 28 April 2009 #
  • I love love love your pictures!!

    This post made me regret not visiting London much recently.
    need to go to Ryan air and Aerlingus website for cheap ticket!

    Thank you for shareing London market info.

    Posted by milismilis | 29 April 2009 #
  • I love Markets! Your pictures are amazing! Last summer I visited London for a short stop over heading to Greece. I went to the Portobello Market and had a lovely time even with the rainy and cold weather in August.

    Thank you for providing a simple glimpse into some of London’s markets through your eyes.

    Posted by Shelu | 29 April 2009 #
  • Hi! Inspired by your wonderful reportage in London I’ve been wandering around Turin, my city!! Look at the result and tell me, if you want :)

    Posted by chiara.u | 30 April 2009 #
  • Can I just say I adore your blog, the food is amazing, the pix are so pretty! I just can’t help starting my own food blog hoping one day, it could be looked up with yours!Just check my blog out! And if you like it, do visit often and maybe leave me a comment there!=)

    Posted by Sweetpea | 30 April 2009 #
  • What a lovely post Keiko! You’ve inspired me to go to more London markets. It’s funny how lazy one gets living in the city, whereas if I were visiting London as a tourist, I would have gone to all these within a week!

    Posted by Helen Yuet Ling Pang | 30 April 2009 #
  • Ps I went to Vintage Heaven today for tea – I really love it there – especially the tapestries on the walls of the cake shop.

    Posted by Lynne, Tea for Joy | 3 May 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko san!

    I always enjoy visiting your blog!!
    It make me feel that I am in London, although I have never been there!!

    I hope all is well for you!

    Posted by junko | 4 May 2009 #
  • your blog is so nice :)

    i am daniel :) – anybody from indonesia here ?: :)

    Posted by daniel kwang | 5 May 2009 #
  • Having been to all of these markets (except Broadway) I love the perspective that your photos give on them – London looks fabulous through your lens!

    Posted by Gourmet Chick | 5 May 2009 #
  • Keiko, tx u for taking me on a tour to this amazing markets. Ive never been to London but u took me there for sure. Tx u again for your lovely pictures, recipes, words… :)
    Love from Uruguay!

    Posted by Carola | 6 May 2009 #
  • HOW GORGEOUS AND INSPIRING. I will use this post as my sole guide the next time I return to that fabulous city. I’m aching for the trip…

    Thank you for sharing!

    Posted by Michelle @ | 7 May 2009 #
  • The photos are absolutely fab! I love the Borough market too!

    Posted by Glitzer | 7 May 2009 #
  • Come to Singapore & shoot please! It will be great to see it through your eyes.

    Posted by May L | 7 May 2009 #
  • Amazing fhotos!!!
    This should be printed all over det world!

    Greetings from Norway

    Posted by Anniken Zahl Furunes | 7 May 2009 #
  • こんにちは。

    Posted by yuna | 7 May 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    This is another amazing collection of market pics! Absolutely love!

    Posted by Venus | 8 May 2009 #
  • Wow! Those look like great places to go, great photos as usual! I wish our Markets here in Calgary had that kind of diversity and community involvement! Keep up the good work!

    Posted by Jake | 9 May 2009 #
  • super photos!
    Là,je regrette de ne pas parler anglais!

    Posted by lory | 11 May 2009 #
  • Hello,

    I really love your work and I will come back soon to see more!

    Greetings from Paris !


    Posted by Stéphanie | 12 May 2009 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    You’ve just given me a few more places to visit in London. Columbia road flower market must be beautiful this time of year. Thanks for the heads up on that market!

    Posted by Nick | 12 May 2009 #
  • The pictures are fantastic!

    Posted by Twa | 18 May 2009 #
  • Keiko,

    Like many others, I stumbled upon your blog by accident and am so glad I did. Your photography is inspiring and I love the use of different perspectives and variety. I will definitely be stopping by regularly.

    Thank you for inspiring a fellow photographer. happy to have found your site.

    Posted by enoxisureka | 19 May 2009 #
  • What glorious photos, Keiko. I love how each of them is suffused with warmth. You really have the most marvellous eye for a good photo!

    Posted by Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar | 22 May 2009 #
  • Beautiful photos! In a few months I’ll be moving to within walking distance of Columbia road flower market, I’ve bookmarked this page and will make sure I check out all the recommended places nearby.

    Posted by Catherine | 22 May 2009 #
  • Ooooh, this makes me miss London so much! Beautiful beautiful images.

    Posted by The Shy Chef | 23 May 2009 #
  • Great photos in this post, it nearly feels like being there. That is one of the only things that would draw me to London, the markets. I live in Dublin and the markets are rubbish. Having spent a lot of time in France as well I miss the part in daily life that it plays and only wish we had some good ones here. This is also possibly the longest blog post I have ever seen!

    Posted by Niall Harbison | 23 May 2009 #
  • Wonderful post Keiko – I will take down addresses for chasing places you recommended :)

    Great to hear you love Mad Men! I love all details and fabulous lighting, composition, story.., you name it and all fub but, the most outstanding thing is their food styling! I also love Soprano too (the same director) I got a copy of “Confessions of Advertising Man” written by the main character of Mad men in 60s . Very interesting what he thinks too.

    Posted by kitsch-en | 24 May 2009 #
  • Thank you for posting this. It was like one stop shop for the food and travel. This is a very resourceful post. It makes me just one to go to London at this very moment. The pictures are also wonderful.

    Thank you very much and I look forward for your next post.


    Posted by Green | 26 May 2009 #
  • what a coincidence, i was at borough market this weekend too!the food looked wonderful, although your photos are better:) blogged it here

    Posted by atia | 27 May 2009 #
  • I must say those images looks great, must have been made with a reflex Camara.

    Posted by Al | 29 May 2009 #
  • keikoさん、はじめまして!

    Posted by ura | 2 June 2009 #
  • Wow! Such a stunning and inspirational story you tell! I adore your eye for detail. I long for a real camera in roder to start exploring more and more. Thankyou for the inspiration!

    Posted by Diana Janicki | 8 June 2009 #
  • Hi everyone, thank you so much for all your kind notes.

    Liz – I’d like to write about some markets in the country too :)

    May – I hope you can meet Margaret at Vintage Heaven, she is such a charming lady. As for Portobello, I guess it’s already (too) well known for the magazine feature – I love it though :)

    Chiara – I’ve only been to Turin briefly, and would love to visit again when I have a chance!

    Helen – I know exactly what you mean…

    Lynne – glad you visited the shop. I agree, it’s such a cosy, warm place :)

    Junko-chan – really looking forward to seeing you again, take care. xx

    Carola – I was hoping to visit Uruguay in May, but sadly it didn’t happen. I’ll definitely plan another trip though! Hopefully you can visit London sometime…

    May L – I’d love to visit Singapore, I know I’ll love it there :)

    Yuna-san – ありがとうございます、日本語版も更新したいと思いつつ放置状態です…。

    Catherine – oh I’m jealous, let me know your favourite spots when you settle down :)

    Niall – oh don’t say ‘rubbish’, I love Dublin!

    Kitsch-en – glad you like Mad Men too, I wasn’t paying as much attention as you did to the food styling though ;) The book sounds really interesting, I think I’m gonna get a copy.

    Ura-san – ありがとうございます。カメラですが、ここ2年ほどキャノンの5Dを使っています。デジイチも手頃でいいものがたくさんありますので、お店でいろいろ試されて、ご自分が気に入られたものを選ばれるといいと思います。

    Posted by keiko | 9 June 2009 #
  • I’ve recently moved from London to Miami and just looking through your blog and images has made me smile. It’s brought back some wonderful memories I have of the city and my country. You’ve captured it beautifully. Thank you.

    Posted by Becca | 28 July 2009 #
  • Hi Becca – hope you enjoy living in Miami, thank you for your kind words.

    Posted by keiko | 14 August 2009 #
  • Keiko,
    am really sooo inspired by your blog…i first discovered it months ago but have been marveling at the photos and the food for the past hour…
    next time u r at Broadway market come and say hello-I have a food stall there called black lime!

    Posted by soli | 29 September 2009 #
  • hello there. I’m an art student who is living in london, and i love all the markets here too. thank you for sharing these photos, shops and places with us. I’d love to visit the ones I haven’t been. I was quite surprised that I didn’t see the market in angle here. It is a lovely place, and my favorite market in London. Its small but fine. You’ve got to visit if you haven’t already been. the shops are open most weekdays and the market are open in the weekends. Hope you’ll like angle :)

    Posted by Lou | 19 December 2009 #
  • I do believe one of the best markets in London for fashion is Old Spitalfields Market every Friday. The stallholders vary from designers and artists to resellers with an eye for the undiscovered and new. The Market is always on the lookout for new exciting designers as well

    Posted by Old Spitalfields Market | 15 July 2010 #
  • After seeing your photos, I’m sad I never spent much time in London having grown up in Birmingham! Somehow the bullring market just doesn’t seem to compare well!

    Posted by Louise | 2 November 2012 #

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