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In the market for some shopping? Then try Spitalfields


Feature: Jenny Coggins

BORN out of the flames of the Great Fire of London in 1666, Spitalfields Market has become a hot place to shop.

And there's no chance of this fire being dampened: completely undercover, Spitalfields is rainy day friendly.

Within spitting distance (get it?!) of the centre of London, Spitalfields is just off Commercial Road, a few minutes walk from Liverpool Street…

As with all markets, Sunday is the best day to visit. It holds the most stalls, with 250 crammed in to the power of the 25,000 people that visit every week.

Sunday also has a brilliant atmosphere, with the buzz in the air that a brilliant find is just around the corner.

Sundays at Spitalfields offer mainly clothes. A real specialist of the market is the second-hand attire that can be picked up here.

Unlike in charity shops, where many an hour is wasted hunting through bric-a-brac and unwanted M and S nighties, you won't have to rummage for the good stuff here.

Someone has gone to the trouble of doing that for you. There's antique cardies through to 70s flares.

However, as with pretty much all vintage clothing, the number of years it's been knocking about is matched by its priced.

Be careful what you fall in love with here, as you could end up with an original buy, but a bank balance of zilch. All the new goods on sale are worth a look, too, often capturing the same individuality as the vintage stuff.

House-hold items are farer and fewer between than the clothes, but you can still find quilts and candles.

And no trip is complete to the market without a visit to smell the incense: check out the massive selection on the stall opposite the entrance as you venture in.

Other Highlights

House of Bohemia is just as you walk in, and is a little shed of retro furniture goodies, from huge 70s fabric lamps to sixties shimmering door hangings. You may well be tempted to move in…

Early Bird is another in-market shop which sells great fridge magnets, cards and for a trip down childhood lane check out their Top Trumps selection.

Chapeau Claudette is Claudette Outland's stall, helping to keep heads screwed on everywhere with funky head wear. Becoming something of a celebrity herself, Claudette's designs are being picked up in the major women's magazines. She's on hand on Sunday's to help pick a style that suits you face shape best.

If all that shopping leaves you hungry, at the middle back is the International Food Village. You can choose from Thai, to crepes, to pasta, and there is also a large seating area so you should be able to sit and eat.

24/7
If you'd rather stay in bed on a Sunday: shame on you! But there are alternative days to visit.

Thursday is the fashion market, which hosts young fashion designers of the future. You can get great cutting edge clothes and as most people are at work it is much quieter than a Sunday.

On the last Wednesday of every month, is the record and bookfair, selling great collectables and bargains.

Basics:
Opening Times are: Monday to Friday 10:30am -4:30pm, Sunday 10am-5pm

There are also some loos in the middle of the market if nature calls.
The market has wheelchair access.
If you want to ring before visiting call: 020 7377 1496.

Getting there: The nearest Tube is Liverpool Street, and local buses are 8, 24, 149 and 67.

Refunds: These are at the discretion of the stall holder, so check before you buy or else there'll be tears…

Room for Improvement:
While I couldn't find much to fault, some feel there are things to change.

Owners, Ballymore, have proposed to build glass bricks for permanent shop and restaurant units, drastically reducing stall space.

Have your say and sign the petition to save Spitalfields at the website: www.spitalfieldsmarketstalls.co.uk

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