Saturday, 8 May 2021



Borough is one of the oldest markets in Europe going back nearly 1000 years, when London was a small walled metropolis on the north of the Thames linked by a single bridge to Southwark, which had an altogether different culture where different rules applied. London Bridge was a vital artery for all manner of foodstuffs and general supplies and thus the Borough Market was born and continued to prosper.


By the 16th century Southwark was a hive of activity and not just a thriving commercial district. It was also a vibrant playground packed full of pubs, brothels and theatres allowing Londoners to cross the river and let off steam – “think Ibiza, but with fewer foam parties and more Shakespeare.”


Despite recent gentrification the area is still charged with Dickensian atmosphere with history around every corner.

Cross Bones Madonna


A particular favourite of mine is Crossbones Graveyard in Redcross Way, a piece of unconsecrated ground which was the final resting place of thousands of prostitutes known as Winchester Geese and can still be visited to this day, having survived all overtures by developers thanks to robust intervention by local heritage groups. The name stems from the Bishop of Winchester who licensed local prostitution and levied taxes from the proceeds, the remains of his Palace can still be seen next to Borough Market adjacent to Clink Prison where transgressors would be incarcerated and can still be visited today to inspect instruments of torture.


Borough Market continued to evolve as a wholesale food market operating largely in the early hours, until in the mid 1990s a few entrepreneurs including the founders of Neal’s Yard Diary and Brindisa sowed the seeds of the artisan food market of global acclaim that it has become today.

Votive Remembrances: Ribbons tied to the railings of Cross Bones

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Thank you very much for your comments - Tim