Esoteric London

No. 123: The Piazza, WC2

Posted in London Labour, Markets by esotericlondon on August 18, 2010

The Piazza, Covent Garden, London,Wc2. Photo © Roger Dean 2010

London, Volume 5 – Charles Knight, 1843:

The market-days at Covent Garden are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, the last being by far the most important. There is no particular hour for commencing business, but it varies at different seasons, and by daybreak there are always a few retail dealers present. Waggons and carts have been arriving for some time before, and porters are busied in transferring their contents to the different stations of the salesmen while the dawn is yet grey. The houses of refreshment around the market are open at half-past one in summer; and little tables are set out against the pillars of the piazzas by the venders of tea and coffee. Here the porters and carters can obtain refreshment without needing to resort to exciting liquors; and few greater benefits have been conferred on the laborious classes whose occupation is in the public markets than that of substituting tea and coffee for ardent spirits. There is some separation of the different classes of articles, and potatoes and coarser produce are assigned a distinct quarter. Vegetables and fruit are tolerably well separated, and flowers and plants are found together. The west side of the square is covered with potted flowers and plants in bloom, and a gay, beautiful, and fragrant display they make. The supply of cut flowers for bouquets, or, to use the oldfashioned word, nosegays, is very large, including walls, daffodils, roses, pinks, carnations, &c., according to the season. The carts and waggons with vegetables are drawn up close together on three sides of the market. A waggon-load of fine fresh cabbages, of clean-washed turnips, carrots, or cauliflowers, or an area of twenty square yards covered with the latter beautiful vegetable, or either of the others piled in neat stacks, is a pleasing sight. Here are onions from the Bedfordshire sands or Deptford, cabbages from Battersea, asparagus from Mortlake and Deptford, celery from Chelsea, peas from Charlton, these spots being each famous for the production of these particular articles, though the supply may be larger from other places.

[ The word costermonger is derived from the word ‘costard’ (a type of apple) and ‘monger’ – meaning ‘seller’.R.D.]

See also post No. 217

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  1. […] See also post No. 123 […]

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