Please scroll down the page for a timeline of the history of Old Spitalfields Market. We’ve also compiled background information into the names behind the eight gates leading into Old Spitalfields Market
AD 300/ 400
The site of a Roman cemetery.
‘The priory of St. Mary of the Spittle’, a medieval hospital, is founded: the first part of the name ‘Spitalfields’ derives from the word ‘hospital’, which to the medieval mind was understood as ‘hospitality’, a place of rest as well as medicine.
Following the Great Fire of London, thousands of displaced people camp on the Spital Fields.
Samuel Pepys visits the Old Artillery-ground at Spitalfields, “where I never was before, but now by Captain Deane’s invitation did go to see his new gun tried, this being the place where the officers of the Ordnance do try all their great guns.”
Charles II grants a Letters Patent to a silk thrower by the name of John Balch, allowing a market for flesh, fowl and roots in Spitalfields, an area known as a ‘stronghold of Noncomformity’
Large numbers of Huguenots (French and Flemish Protestants) fleeing religious persecution settle in the area, bringing with them a new wave of skills. Their silk-making expertise will make ‘Spitalfields Silk’ into a world-famous export – and they also invent Oxtail soup.
Mass Jewish settlement in Spitalfields combines with the invention of the sewing machine to launch the mechanized clothing trade – and introduces bagels to the area.
Robert Horner, a former market porter, purchases at public auction the lease for the market.
The ‘Horner Buildings’ are officially finished.
Charles Roberts Ashbee, a founder of the Arts and Craft movement, opens his Guild and School of Handicraft at Toynbee Hall on Commercial Street, across the road from Spitalfields Market
A new wave of mass settlement brings Maltese, Irish, Scots, West Indian, Somalian and Bangladeshi communities to the area.
Spitalfields fruit and veg traders club together and buy a Spitfire fighter plane to aid the war effort. They name it ‘Fruitaition’.
The fruit and veg market moves to Temple Hill, Leyton in East London where it now occupies a purpose-built 31 acre site. “Old Spitalfields Market” takes its current form.
Archaeologists discover the remains of a wealthy young pagan woman from Roman times in a decorated sarcophagus
The new Spitalfields development at Crispin Place and Bishops Square opens next door to Old Spitalfields Market. Old Spitalfields Market wins the Time Out award for ‘Best London Market’ two years running.
Restoration work, which will preserve the Horner Buildings for another generation, is fully completed.