One of the biggest struggles for Londoners is leaving our own neighborhoods. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine on weeknights and weekends, going to our local pubs or eating at restaurants near where we live. We’ll make a trip to Soho to meet friends, but ask us to venture too far north, south, east, or west and we’ll quickly start complaining about how far away things are. But some out-of-the-way places are worth a special trip, and one of them is Chatsworth Road Market.
Over in east London’s Hackney, the market is a 10-minute walk from the Homerton overground station, a stop I didn’t really know existed until I found myself there on the way to Chatsworth Road.
And now I’m walking down said street to explore the stalls and the shops around them. I recently read about the market, which was revived in 2010 around the time the neighborhood’s gentrification went into full swing. Nowadays east London’s resident hipsters and Hackney’s new breed of young yuppie families frequents it on Sundays, and I’m curious to see what it’s all about.
I’m also curious to see how it compares to Columbia Road Flower Market, London’s most famous Sunday market, which has grown so crowded over the years that it’s almost impossible to walk through. If Chatsworth Road can offer a good alternative to Columbia Road, I might just make it my go-to market on Sundays.
As my walk brings me closer to the market stalls, I take in my surroundings. Like many areas of east London, Jamaican takeaway shops and Indian curry houses sit side-by-side with chic boutiques and trendy restaurants.
I walk into a store called Triangle and find a small leather purse for sale for £175, a far cry from the prices at the pound shop across the street. On another corner, a boutique called London Borough of Jam sells postcode-based honey and books about toast. It’s sandwiched between a hole-in-the-wall takeaway restaurant and a hairdresser advertising “stylish African designs for ladies and gents”.
The market itself is less pound shop and more upscale foodie haven, with stalls selling hard-to-pronounce cheeses and artisan salamis. It stretches for a couple of blocks, filling the air with tempting scents of Vietnamese street food from Hanoi Kitchen and falafel from Hoxton Beach.
There are also butchers and fishmongers, vegetable stands and raw honey stalls, but my taste buds are more enticed by the likes of the colorful candy at Life is Sweet and the sandwiches at Deeney’s Scottish Flavour. I even have to laugh when the vendors ask if I’m vegan before giving me a sample of their food. This place is definitely gentrified.
Further down the road, food gives way to fashion and art. Several stalls sell jewelry and scarves, while others offer leather goods and Indian handicrafts.
On either side of the stalls are more chic shops and hip restaurants, all of them filling up with the Sunday crowd. I pop into Espresso Hut, the tiniest of them, for a coffee, then continue exploring the antique emporiums and vintage furniture stores along the road.
By the time I’ve finished wandering, I’ve gotten a good introduction to the market and its surroundings. It’s not so hipster that I feel like rolling my eyes until they fall out of my head, and like Brixton Market, it still has a mix of traditional Hackney and new yuppie.
Getting back on the overground at Homerton, I feel that visiting Chatsworth Road Market has been well worth getting out of my neighborhood and usual Sunday routine for. Just don’t tell anyone. If the Columbia Road crowd heads up this way, I’ll have to venture even farther to find a new Sunday market, and we know how Londoners feel about that.