Exmouth Market

Once seedy, now sparkly

Exmouth Market , so-called because it once hosted a bustling market at the turn of the 20th century, is a hidden gem for visitors to London. It is hard to believe that between 1970-1990 it suffered from having a seedy reputation. It began to recover at the end of this desolate period, which was fuelled by the opening of the first of a number of smart restaurants, Moro, in 1997. This triggered several other establishments of equal quality and today visitors can amble up a traffic-free walkway to take their pick.

A stones-throw from the august City of London, the area has been comprehensively regenerated and is lunchtime favourite for nearby workers and quite a vibrant spot for after-work drinking. A short, pedestrianised path offers a variety of restaurants, gift shops and food shops – as well as a famous tattoo parlour for anyone seeking a more permanent souvenir.

Like much of London in this area, there is a little green space with lots of fascinating history. At the top of the road, Spa Fields furnishes the area with grim historical fact. In the 1780s, the park was known as the Bone House and Graveyard – a burial plot designated for 3,000 burials. A certain Mr Bird, the graveyard manager managed to make a little more room for 80,000 interments by digging up the new corpses and burning them making room for a new intake. These days it is a popular lunch spot for an ‘al fresco’ sandwich. There’s a bit of the old and plenty of the new but definitely one for your London trip plan.