Gourmet Guide/Markets Diary-of-Axel-Ritenis

“Borough Market London” -Connoisseur’s Guide

Written by Aksel Ritenis
Borough Market is an institution in London and along with other famous landmarks the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, its history chroncicles the development of a city.
The Market is located on the south side of London Bridge Mainline Station on 8 Southwark Street SE1. However, it has not always been at this location and after a couple of centuries of travel, it finally settled at its current location in 1756.



Until the eighteenth century London Bridge was the only bridge over the Thames connecting London and Southern England and Europe. For merchants who travelled to London the bridge was therefore the gateway to the city of London and the first incarnation of the Market was on the bridge. Historians speculate that there could have been traders there earlier than 1014, but at this date reference was made to the sale of grain, fish, vegetables and cattle.

After almost three of centuries the market moved to the ground of St Thomas’s hospital in Long Southwark (now Borough High Street) and then in the thirteenth century, as a result of a fire, the market moved with the hospital to its current sit on St Thomas’s Street. Here it continued for several hundred years.

Two centuries after the original Market moved another was founded in Long Southwark and Edward III transferred ownership of it to the City, with permission to hold a market three days a week. Here the market stayed for nearly 300 years.

After a fire broke out and the market was burnt to the ground in the eighteenth century, the city tried to close the market, but due to the resilience of the citizens of Southwark, the Market’s life in High Street was extended for another eighty years.

In 1755 the Market was terminated by an Act of Parliament, but the residents of Southwark successfully petition to start another market. They raised £6,000 and bought the area known as The Triangle which, with additions, is where the Market is still held today.

In 1801 the whole market was covered over and by 1870 its appearance had been transformed by a glass and iron structure with twin arches and a dome. In 1897 the roof was sacrificed by the railway company’s need to widen the line.

The Borough Market that the citizens of London know today has been on its current site for more than 250 years and is London’s oldest food market.


Borough Market operates as a wholesale fruit and vegetable market and retail market. The wholesale trade takes place every night from 2am to 8am, except on Saturdays. The retail market is open on Thursdays from 11am to 5pm, on Fridays from 12pm to 6pm and Saturdays from 9am to 4pm.

According to Chris Denning, Marketing Manager of Borough Market, there are approximately 6 ‘traditional’ wholesale fruit and veg traders and approximately 120 retail traders at the Market.The Market consists of three areas, namely Middle Road; the Green Market area and the Jubilee area. The Green Market is situated beneath the railway bridges and in the shadow of the Southwark Cathedral and many of the Market’s patrons make their way to its grassy surrounds after they have shopped for lunch. borough-market2There are also a host of shops and restaurants which surround the Market and are located in Stoney Street, Park Street and Bedale Street. Sit down at Café Brood for a barbeque lunch or eat a generous portion of traditional fish & chips at Fish Kitchen.
When arriving at the Market your first thought is likely to be: drinks. The Market boasts a host of options, with many stalls specialising in quencing your thirst.These juices of Chegworth Valley Juices are hand selected and farm pressed in Kent. The company offers a wide variety of apple juices (including Bramley, Russet, Discovery, and Cox) and unusual combinations like Apple & Beetroot, Apple & Elder flower and Apple & Rhubarb. At the stall you can also buy fresh fruits, jam, chutneys and soft fruit plants. A large cup of juice will cost you£1.50.

If you are looking for something more to get the day started, try the coffees of the Monmouth Coffee Company. Monmouth offers a wide selection of beans from all over the world including Asia, Africa and South America, all hand roasted by the company itself. You can buy the beans by weight and if you so wish they can be ground while you wait. Otherwise just try a hot cup of coffee for
£2.30. Everyday a different bean is used for the brew, “depending on what tastes good,” says the company.If coffee is not your fix, go right next door to the Ceylon 1 stall. Here you will find organic,s easonally picked, fairtrade teas from Sri Lanka. The company has 8 different flavours on offer including: Earl Gray, green Earl Gray, Vanilla, Pure Ceylon, Orange Pekoe, Green Tea, Green Tea Orange and Chai. Have a cup at the stall for£1.50 or take a tin of leaves home for £4.00. Tea infusers and tea filters are also available at the stall if you choose the latter option.If you’re about to sit down with your lunch and you are craving for a beer, try the interesting selection at the Utobeer stall. This company sources beer from all over the world through 20 different suppliers and by importing themselves. “Name the country, we’re probably stocking beer from there,” they claim. Beers on offer include ones from small British breweries, hard to get hold of Belgium beers and rare German beers. An interesting ale on offer is Flying Dog from a brewery in Maryland, US. All the labels on the Ale are drawn by British cartoonist and caricaturist, Ralph Steadman, best known as the illustrated for the Gonzo author Hunter S. Thompson.
If meat is what you are after, try the Furness Fish, Poultry & Game Supplies. They can supply stuffed chicken, duck, black pudding, pigeon, pork, venison, rabbit and hare. Their most well known product is probably their Bowland sausages. These sausages are hand made using natural skin and the meat is sourced from the outdoor reared pork.
At the Furness Fish Market you can find all things from the water, including crab, shrimp, langustines, kippers, salmon, trout, swordfish, squid, lobster, rock oysters and Orkney razor clams. The stall owners recommend the Scottish hake steak (at £18.5/kg) and the Whitby cod steak (at £15/kg).For those vegans in the crowd the market also offers a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, try Turnips or if you want to grap something quick to eat right there visit The Veggie Table for veggie burgers, curries and salads.Borough Market offers food from all over the world.
Taste the Fresh Chimichurri Sauce from the Argentine Folklore stall or browse around Brandisa Spanish Foods and discover ham from Iberico black pigs. The Parma Ham Co. specialises in Parma ham and buffalo mozzarella from Italy.When the after lunch craving for something sweet hits, Borough will not dissapoint. At the Cranberry stall you can buy an endless amount of treats including baklava and Turkish delight. Try the Bird Nest Baklava (£4.75 for 250g) or the extra pistacio Turkish Delight (£3.99 for 250g).

As with any establishment offering good food and drink, Borough Market suffers from its own popularity. Reviewers often complain of bustling crowds and long queues at certain stalls. Visitors to the Market amount to approximately 2000 people on a Thursday, 5000 on a Friday and 10– 15000 on a Saturday. Some also lament the exuberant prices of many of the goods. Their advice? Try and go early or explore the stalls on the fringe of the market. Also, try and eat a big sized English breakfast before you go, ensuring that you won’t be tempted to splurge.

Roast Restaurant at Borough Market 

Described by the founder, Iqbal Wahhab, as “New Britannia meets Britain’s oldest food market”, Roast is a restaurant and bar dedicated to classical British cooking.

One of the biggest draws of this restaurant is its location. It is based in Borough Market’s Victorian Floral Hall with windows on three of its sides, including a view of the busy Market below. The restaurant also has an open kitchen and plenty of natural light.

The market even has its own cookbook “The Borough Market Cookbook: Meat and Fish” written by Sarah Freeman and Sarah Leahey Benjamin. You can also do some further reading on the Market with “The Borough Market Book: From Roots to Renaissance” by Ptolemy Dean, Sheila Dillion and Henrietta Green. Also pick up a copy of Market Life, a free Borough Market quarterly with many features on food and drink, Q&A’s and some recipes.
Written by Susan Smith

About the author

Aksel Ritenis

Axel is the Editor and Publisher of Connoisseur Magazine "for the Finer Things in Life" and has been the custodian of the magazine for over 10 years and leader of a team of freelance Journalists and Community Members who continue to make it all happen!-Join the Team at Connoisseur Magazine!

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