London is one of the great cities in the world in which to go shopping for antiques and almost every day of the week there is an antique market in which to find them. Here is a list of the weekly markets and my tips for shopping at them:
Monday: The Jubilee Market Hall in Covent Garden has markets every day of the week, but Monday is antique day. The market opens early (5am) but on my latest trip I arrived at about 9:00 am and many dealers were just starting to set up; from talking to several dealers I gather that during the early morning hours they are busy selling amongst themselves. The items available are smalls: silver, china, decorative objets, jewelry, clothing.
Jubilee has a wide range of prices. Some sellers have tables piled with jewelry – costume jewelry, silver jewelry, new jewelry, antique jewelry – with prices ranging from £5-15; others have expensive gold and diamond jewelry. Although the market is officially open until 5:00 pm, be aware that some dealers start packing up earlier. Jubilee market is located adjacent to the London Transport Museum whose gift shop is one of my favorite places to buy affordable souvenirs in London, many of which are unique to this shop.
Tuesday: while not a weekly market, on the second and last Tuesdays of each month there is a fantastic market at the Kempton Park racecourse just outside of London which is easily accessible by train from central London. This is my favorite market in London, and I plan my buying trips to ensure that I’m around on the second or last Tuesday of the month so that I can attend it. Click here for my post about this market.
Wednesday: Camden passage. Camden passage is a series of antique shops and small open-air markets in Islington, along a charming street called Camden Passage. Prices at Camden Passage vary from moderate to high.
The open-air markets take place on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Most of the shops are open daily during regular business hours but some open only when the open-air markets are in session. Some world renowned antique shops such as the Tadema Gallery, famed for their Arts and Crafts jewelry, are here but there are also more affordable mini-shops located on a small small street called the Pierpont Arcade. Sadly, the open-air markets are shrinking; during my most recent trip one of the sites had been closed down that week and its dealers displaced.
Thursday: Spitalfields Market. Like Jubilee, there are markets every day at Spitalfields, but Thursday is the day that vintage and antique dealers set up. I didn’t make it to Spitalfields market during my most recent trip but went a couple of years ago. While I didn’t find much, it is certainly worth a trip if you’re in London. There are places to eat and drink in the market and surrounding neighborhood so it’s a pleasant excursion. Its also a good jumping off point for the burgeoning neighborhoods of Shoreditch and Brick Lane.
Friday: You really need to be a morning person to go to Bermondsey Antique Market. Located in Bermondsey Square, which is about a 10-15 minute walk from the London Bridge tube, this market opens officially at 6:00 am and closes by 2:00. I went a couple of years ago at about 10:00 am and many dealers were already closing up.
Portobello Road is open on Friday, but in a much abbreviated form from Saturday, which is the main day (see below). I checked out the Friday market on my most recent trip and found that most of the antique arcades were closed and that there were only a handful of antique dealers set up along the Road. Some of the antique shops were open, but if you’re serious about antique shopping, go on Saturday.
Saturday: Portobello Road. Click here for my post about Portobello Road.
Sunday: Camden Passage (see above)
There are also smaller “boot sales” held around London including sales in Wimbeldon on Wednesday and Saturday and Battersea on Sunday. “Boot sales” (the trunk of a car is known as its “boot” in the UK) are a type of sale in which a mix of dealers and individuals sell second hand goods. It’s a cross between a flea market and a garage sale. You probably won’t find as many antiques and collectibles at a boot sale as you will at one of the markets listed above, but prices are generally lower. I went to the one in Wimbeldon a few years ago and found a nice pair of Art Deco dress clips at a very reasonable price. Time Out, the weekly guide to events in London, has a good list of weekly boot sales on their website (click here).