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Destinations · Europe · united kingdom · London · Where to shop · Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Author: Anothertravelguide.com0 COMMENTS

Columbia Road Flower Market

A Sunday morning visit to the East End's Columbia Road flower market has become a Sunday ritual for many Londoners. Walking the length of the flower-filled street, it's hard to imagine that it was once a mere path along which sheep were driven to the Smithfield slaughterhouses.

Foto: Columbia Road Flower MarketFoto: Columbia Road Flower MarketFoto: Columbia Road Flower Market

The street market was introduced in the 19th century as a place for local people to shop on days off work. At first it operated only on Saturdays, but Sundays were later added to the calendar so that merchants from other neighbourhoods could sell what they hadn't sold on Saturdays. It's said that the idea of a flower market came from Huguenot immigrants who settled in the East End after fleeing repression in France. The flower market flourished until the Second World War - a bomb shelter beneath the market was struck by a bomb and the explosion also destroyed part of the street. Columbia Road was reborn in its current guise only in the 1960s, and ever since there has been a riot of blossoms in this narrow street between 8:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. on Sundays. When we visited and wandered about, on a cool March morning, there were flowers from every time of year on sale here, whether snowdrops, narcissi and hyacinths in pots or blossoming cherry trees and sunflowers.

Foto: Columbia Road Flower MarketFoto: Columbia Road Flower MarketFoto: Columbia Road Flower Market

There were even poppies, fiery red, despite the season - they cost ten pounds for three. Only gladiolas couldn't be found, it seemed. Every other seller hawked his or her wares in a loud voice, and blossoms were everywhere - in vases, pots and people's hands. The people come from all walks of life, proles and celebrities. Cockneys with white pearl buttons gleaming against black jackets and hats decorated with feathers milled about. The tiny, cobbled surrounding streets are also packed with market stalls and small shops, but they sell everything imaginable - you can find vintage dresses, antique cufflinks, porcelain dishes, old playing cards or rare books here. Whatever people decide they don't need seems to turn up near the flower market. A tailor's mannequin, an old dentist's chair, a stainless steel bed... and if you're hungry, you can sample olives and beans or eggs and bacon nearby. Or oysters which are offered on a rickety wooden table...

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