Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published December 27th 2014
Where Going to Church and Shopping Combine
As I walked towards St. James's Church Piccadilly, in the courtyard I saw a Christmas Tree surrounded by stalls. I immediately assumed it was yet another Christmas market, but as I got closer, I saw that stalls were lacking the usual festivity one might expect.
I then looked at the notice outside the gate and discovered that this was not a temporary Christmas market, but the permanently situated Piccadilly Market. I must admit, I never new there was a market in Piccadilly before; it doesn't ring bells in quite the same way as Portobello or Borough. It is not as old either, as its first appearance was made in 1981, and it did not become a fixture until 1984.
Smaller, younger, and definitely not as renowned, Piccadilly Market is still worth a visit, for both its variety and location. St. James's Church Piccadilly is a Grade I listed seventeenth century building; it contains work by the master carver, Grinling Gibbons, and is where the poet, William Blake was baptised. The courtyard has a cafe, and attractive statues to admire.
The market is open everyday but Sunday, with an Antique market on Monday, food market on Tuesday, and arts & crafts the rest of the week.
I went on an arts & crafts day, which was made clear by a collection of elaborately decorated plates hanging from the front stall. Pama Forza sell handcrafted ceramics from Jerusalem and the Middle East. The family business established themselves in 2002, and can also be found at Greenwich and Spitalfields Markets at the weekend.
Next stall over is a stall writers dream of, as they had beautifully bound leather notebooks to keep all your precious ideas in.
Writers and artists might also be interested in Chris's Print Blocks, featuring exquisite old style calligraphy letterings and fonts.
If you are looking for pre-school gifts, around the corner were a range of wooden puzzle blocks that make up various shapes, such as flowers and animals.
I always enjoy browsing charity shops, not just because of the price, but also because of the eclectic mix of things to find. You can do the same at Piccadilly Market, where they have a charity stall. These aren't second hand items, so you won't get second hand prices, but the quirky mix remains, and it all goes to a good cause (although I can't remember which one). The ladies behind the stall were friendly, chatty, and enthusiastic about what they selling.
Not from London? Want to take a momento home with you to mark your visit? The London Souvenir Shop run by Dennis and John Marshall has everything from your standard pens, plates, and keyrings to beautifully crafted Millville pipes, handmade by the owners. Not far away is Jeab's London Souvenir Clothing with t-shirts and tea towels all made in England.
My favourite stall was Fossils London. It's not hard to guess what area these guys specialise in, but you still might be surprised what you find on at their stall. I was. They have far more than a few fossilised bugs ad sharks teeth. on the table stood a mammoth tibia and a Romanian cave bear claw.
Although the food market is on Tuesdays, you can still get a few 'take-home' products on arts & crafts days. I'm not one for tea, but I do adore the aroma of loose leaf blends. There are many to choose from, such as Soho Spice, Caramel Sweetheart, and Midnight Grey. My favourite was Walk in the Woods, which was very fruity.
Again, the antique market is on Monday, but a few antique stalls still appear on other days. For example, St James's Antiques has an eclectic mix of collectable objects, including items made from silver, porcelain, and glass.
To go back for a nostalgic blast from the past, Ahura Collectables proves that twentieth century telephones are way cooler than a mobile. Who else used to have a dial up telephone? Weren't they fun?
Piccadilly Market also has some international sellers, so you can find handmade items from other countries, such as Russia. One stall had lots of Russian dolls, both in their traditional form, and ones to appeal to children.