Portobello Market – A Classic Taste of London Miscellanea

Spend a day uncovering your more peculiar taste in objects.

 

Portobello Market has a distinct feel to it: almost as though one could smell dust transpiring from every stand and every brick has absorbed the scent of all past food stalls that had existed on the main road from the last 150 years. It has been romanticised in culture and influenced as many artists as it has passing shoppers. It’s been sung about countless times by Blur, Dire Straits, Cat Stevens and even by Disney in Bedknobs and Broomsticks; been the main setting of 1999’s smash blockbuster Notting Hill; been called home by George Orwell in the 1920s; and Paddington bear does not go a day without having his elevenses in the market with his antique dealer friend Mr. Gruber. As the world’s largest regular antique market, it is no wonder that it has had such an effect on culture as it has changed with the times whilst still remaining the eclectic apex of the oddities and collectibles market in London. There are quite a few sections of Portobello, with each specialising in a different segment such as fashion, food, bric-a-brac, and furniture. With so much to explore and so many characters to interact with, it is one of the most sensational roads in London to spend a day exploring.

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Antiques are what Portobello has always been known for, and remains the focus of the Market. Whether you’re a serious collector looking to invest, want to pick up something decorative for the house, or just in the mood to browse, Portobello offers more to choose from than one could imagine. A Saturday is the best time to explore this section of the market, as the main street market is filled with antique dealers and the antique arcades are fully open alongside the permanent shops. Vic Burness deals in scientific instruments, Juan Carlos specialises in antique frames from the Georgian to mid 20th century, Peter Causton sells Asian porcelain, Geoffrey Walsh sells WW1 and WW2 memorabilia such as hats, medals and badges. Interamnia has hundreds of antique prints and maps for sale, The Last Place on Earth has an incredible collection of vintage suitcases, and Swift Antique Lace unfolds to reveal a selection of lace from the 17th to the 19th century. There are far too many to even begin to list here and it’s really best to have a wonder around in person as everyone finds personal favourite traders.

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As the Market became gentrified in the 80s, the cutting-edge and vintage clothing aspect expanded astronomically and is now one of the main reasons for visiting Portobello. Regardless of gender or budget, there’s a wide enough mixture of clothing in Portobello to guarantee finding what you’re looking for. There’s a healthy mixture of modern and vintage design. Couverture & The Garbstone stock independent designers united by a minimal aesthetic, Adam of London provides sleek 1960s tailoring for men, and Art in Transit has a penchant for historic references in their selection of stock. Vintage clothing is where the market really excels: the best known permanent shop is onE of a Kind who caters to celebrity clients and stylists (extremely expensive for good reason: they manage to track down vintage couture from every significant designer imaginable). Vintage fur finds a home in Portobello and there is a fur stand on every corner with almost every merchant taking an ethical stance against selling new fur. Costume jewellery shimmers on tables and draped amongst felted and netted hats placed jauntily on enduringly shabby mannequins.

Aside from selling a colourful array of fresh fruit and vegetables, food in Portobello is excellent, ranging from street stalls to refined permanent eateries. Those with a lack of self-discipline will have a hard time walking past a magnificent array of ready-to-grab street food stalls throughout the market: Golborne Road is the best for Afro-Caribbean cuisine, the paella from Jamon Jamon is to die for, and you’ll be dreaming of the bratwurst, curry, crepes and churros for weeks afterwards. If you’re looking to take some goodies home The Mushroom Man has a selection of the finest funghi, Hummingbird Bakery has tempting cupcakes, Vito is the go-to-place for olive oil, and Une Normande a Londres has some spectacular cheese (good luck with those lasting the journey back). For a proper sit-down affair, look no further than the Electric Cinema which has a remarkably good restaurant despite being known as the swankiest cinema in London, E & O provides super-trendy Chinese food, and Saporitalia is a quaint Italian resting spot for families.

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Miscellanea continues to constitute a cornerstone of the Market’s make-up and provides surprising finds and weird objects pulled straight out of an eccentric’s imagination. These more bizarre objects are found exclusively on the market stalls. Vintage books, African sculpture, The Cloth Shop, vintage toys, venetian masks, home-made furniture and so much more can be found awakening your curiosity throughout Portobello. As a market defined by its eclecticism, it feels like many different markets rolled into one; a haven for anyone with a penchant for the beautiful and the odd.

 

Opening times:

09:00-18:00 Mon-Wed
09:00-13:00 Thursday
09:00-19:00 Fri and Sat

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