One of the largest wholesale meat markets in Europe, Smithfield Market—also known as London Central Markets—is frequented by chefs, butchers, and curious tourists. Located in the oldest part of London, the area has hosted livestock markets for close to a millennia and was also site of bloody public executions in the Middle Ages.
Soak up the history at Smithfield Market—it was once a field used for grazing animals, has hosted medieval jousting tournaments, and was the spot where “heretics,” including Scottish revolutionary Sir William Wallace, were executed. Smithfield was transformed from a livestock market to a covered meat market in the 19th century by architect Sir Horace Jones. Today, come to experience the only major wholesale meat market left in central London.
Smithfield Market may be included on select walking or bike tour itineraries of London, and, thanks to its association with William Wallace, is a highlight stop on haunted London tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Smithfield Market is located on one level and is accessible for visitors with limited mobility.
- The market may be frequented by butchers and restaurant professionals, but it is also fully accessible to members of the public.
- Smoking, eating, and drinking are all strictly prohibited.
How to Get There
Take the Circle, Hammersmith & City, or Metropolitan Tube lines to Barbican or Farringdon Stations; Farringdon is also served by Thameslink trains. Smithfield Market can be reached by a number of bus lines, and can be accessed by taxi, by bike, or on foot.
When to Get There
Smithfield Market is open from 2am until midmorning, Monday–Friday (stalls close at different times, but it’s recommended to visit before 7am if you want to see them all open). The market is closed on weekends and bank holidays.
While Smithfield Market has attracted the interest of developers, various heritage organizations have fought to protect the landmark, which is run by the City of London Corporation. Recently, the corporation announced that the Museum of London would take over some Smithfield buildings and its intention to relocate to Smithfield to outside the city.