London Unveiled

great places to visit off the beaten path.

Surrey Street Market ~ the oldest in the country

Surrey Street Market sign croydonIn Croydon, Surrey Street Market has traded since 1236 making it the oldest known street market in all of Britain.   But even with this legacy, Mary Portas (aka Mary Queen of Shops) has been brought in to revitalize this historic market that still struggles to capitalize on its potential.  Surrey Street market is only one of 20 or so ‘Portas Pilot’ areas that will benefit from a focused effort to revitalize the community.  Today while fruit and vegetables are still common offerings, a focus on ‘street food’ has made this medieval market worth a visit, and with the likely changes in store for it, keep this market on your list to periodically visit.

History:  While a market may have existed here even earlier, there is documentation of a market being here in 1236.  It was not until 1276 that an official charter was granted for a Wednesday market by the Archbishop of Canterbury.  At that time the medieval market occupied a triangular piece of land bordered by Crown Hill / Church St, Surrey Street and High Street.

Records indicate that the higher ‘High Street’ side had better drainage and was used for corn trading, while the lower ground on the Surrey Street side was for livestock trading - giving clarity to Surrey Street’s original name - Butcher Row (in use until 1834).

In 1314 the charter was amended to allow a Thursday market.  By 1595 the market was being held on Saturday and it continued that way until 1861.  At that time the corn market was shifted to Thursday - though some corn trading continued on Saturdays.  The butter market (held indoors) ended in 1874 and the corn market finally ended in 1907.  After that time market activity shifted to a more general street market.

Today:  In 1922 the Croydon Corporation took over the market and established it as a daily market (except Sunday).  Further development of the land led to the building of the Grants Entertainment Centre which effectively dominates the old market triangle of land.  Consequently the street trading activity all moved to Surrey Street.  Saturday is still the busiest day.  As mentioned this is a ‘Portas Pilot’ area that will benefit from significant investment.  Currently the growth in the available ‘street food’ here is making it a worthy destination.   Some vendors of note include Whatle’s Caribbean food, the Faith Wok Chinese Food, Sunny Quinton’s Mexican Ambulance, Toufiz’s Afghan wraps, Lovesome cakes, and Zanylicious… just to name a few.  One planned development is the Surrey Street Learning Kitchen which should allow for the development and training of caterers and catering businesses.


Located: Surrey Street, Croydon.  Operates ~7am - 6pm.

Closest Transit:  From Central London: Train from London Bridge to East Croydon (then short walk).  For those riding the Tramlink exit George Street stop.

14 comments on “Surrey Street Market ~ the oldest in the country

  1. rigmover
    March 11, 2013

    Something else i’ve learnt, thank you.

  2. studentlondon3
    March 11, 2013

    I’ll definitely be paying this a visit, there’s a direct bus to Croydon from Streatham so there really is no excuse!

  3. ilkadickens
    March 11, 2013

    HI - Good news. You won the typographic poster from my blog. Can you contact me please (see contact details on my blog) and let me know your name and address so I can get it sent to you. Sorry couldn’t see contact details on this blog?? Thank you


  4. Mevetra
    March 12, 2013

    This looks great!

  5. Pingback: Tech Town session offers more start-up advice | Inside Croydon

  6. Pingback: Historical assets ought to be foundation for Croydon’s future | Inside Croydon

  7. devonium
    March 15, 2013

    love your blog. Coming up to London this weekend, here’s a wild card, any ideas of what to do with kids, girls aged 11 and 9 this Sat? based in Clapham.

      March 15, 2013

      Everything is weather contingent… but if I remember my daughter at that age, shopping and animals were often in demand! Depending on time, Mudchute Farm over near Canary Wharf is one idea. Saturday and Sunday are great street market days - Portobello Road / Notting Hill is popular for good reason (not just antiques, plenty of stalls of clothing and fashion items etc… further up), as is Borough Market (great food) - both of these are on Sat. Columbia Road flower market on Sunday is fun. Close to Clapham a walk in Battersea Park is lovely. If very wet, the BFI is a good place to catch a film and from here a nice walk along the south bank is always enjoyable.

    • If you live in the country and are used to grumpy farmers discouraging the use of rights of way, you’ll love the glorious expanse of public open space that is Clapham Common. Enjoy! You may never wish to go west again.

  8. steffanmh
    March 20, 2013

    I used to work down the road from there and until a couple of years ago when we moved office, went there most lunches to see what street food was on offer. There was a Chinese and a jerk chicken stall, and a number of other more adventurous ones that would typically fold after a month or two. I had no idea it had such a history. I suppose I ought to have read the street sign!

      March 20, 2013

      Thanks for your comment. It will be interesting to see how the focused attention on revitalizing the market goes this year… it’ll give you a reason to return!

  9. Pingback: Green Dragon offers real ale, good food and all that jazz | Inside Croydon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on March 10, 2013 by in Croydon, Family Activities, Free Activities, Royal London, Street Markets and tagged , , , .

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 733 other followers

%d bloggers like this: