Esoteric London

No. 433: West Smithfield, EC1

Posted in Markets, Parks, Street Furniture by esotericlondon on October 26, 2011

West Smithfield, London, EC1. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

London by Day and Night – David W.Bartlett, 1852:

The market is an open area, paved with small round stones, and contains eight or nine acres of ground. In one quarter – there were hundreds of small enclosures for sheep, pigs and calves, and across the other portions strong fences ran to which the cattle are generally tied. Sometimes a circle of “beeves” is made by obliging a dozen of them to turn their heads together in a common centre, and a good driver without rope or centre-post will keep a dozen of powerful cattle together for hours in this manner. There were that morning about ten thousand head of cattle in the market, and perhaps twenty thousand head of sheep. The noise and confusion of the place was indescribable. Scores of shepherd’s and drover’s dogs were tied to the fences, their “occupation” gone now that the cattle or sheep were penned up or secured. Nevertheless whenever a squad of sheep were marched off by some metropolitan buyer, the curs, as if unaware of any honest bargain by which the ownership had been transferred, set up a shrill howl of discontent. There were acres of cattle and sheep, and hundreds of buyers and sellers, and all in the very heart of London. The buildings surrounding the market were generally low and ancient in their appearance, and their inhabitants seemed to be of a different race from the rest of the Londoners.

[ The photographs above are of details of the stone bench designed by Sam Dawkins and Donna Walker that can be found in the public park at West Smithfield. R.D.]

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