Covent Garden can trace its history back to the thirteenth century when it was the Convent Garden for St Peter of Westminster. Almost one hundred years after Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries Inigo Jones was commissioned (in 1630) to design the existing Covent Garden Piazza, basing his plans on Italian public squares and Palladian architecture. The sale of fruit and vegetables began in the area in 1649, but was greatly expanded after London's Great Fire in 1666.
The main market building was erected in 1830 and its glass roof was added in the 1870s, followed by the first part of the flower market (now the London Transport Museum) in 1872. Almost exactly one hundred years later the market was relocated to Nine Elms, on the south side of the Thames, and the old market was listed for redevelopment. However it was saved by a vigorous campaign, and reopened in 1980 as a shopping and eating area. Since then it has become a distinctive part of the city, popular with both Londoners and visitors.
The Apple Market occupies a small percentage of the Piazza, being overlooked by St Paul's church at one end,
The Apple Market with the portico of St Paul's Church in the background
It's a vibrant Mecca for both craftspeople and shoppers with its individual stalls that include fashion accessories, antiques and collectibles, handmade jewellery and artworks of various sorts. The stalls change regularly, so you won't necessarily find the same goods sold every day of the week and you will need to contact the various stallholders to find out when they are selling. One thing you definitely won't be able to buy from any of the craftspeople is an apple.
Why not browse the wares on sale on the different stalls? You'll find inspiration for presents, and for unique souvenirs of London. You can be assured that the items are all made by talented artisans, and are certainly not mass produced. In these days of clone town Britain, we could all do with a little individuality.