Up bright and early on a cold sunny morning in February. It is worth forgoing the lie in on a Sunday to scour the East End vintage shops and markets. Wrap up warm, grab a coffee and have fun vintage shopping in East London! I’ve added my top favourite places, some off the beaten track.
Known for it’s huge collection of beautiful flower stalls, Columbia Road doesn’t spring to mind for vintage shopping. Head to the Royal Oak pub, turn down the cobbled street and on the left is a vintage record player shop also stocking vinyl. Carry on and you come to Ezra yard, hidden by a corrugated iron facade. My friend Marinella has her vintage stall in this small square selling hand selected vintage clothes, trinkets and some pottery that she has crafted herself. There is a fantastic vintage jumper stall here, homewares, beautiful coloured scarves and lots of other interesting finds. Head back to the main Columbia Road on the opposite side of the market are a great selection of vintage shops including Vintage Heaven, H.M. Jones and Columbia Antiques. Before Covid the market filled both sides of the road so it was difficult to view the shops along the side on a Sunday. But now the flower market is only on one side so the shops are fully visible and easier to access, apart from the crowds!
Top tip: arrive early, before 10am to avoid the crowds
Mile End & Bow
From Columbia road, head down Barnet Grove and jump on the iconic number 8 bus going towards Bow Church. The bus will announce when you have come to Roman Road Market. Jump off here and head to the beginning of the market (closed on Sundays). There is a little hidden gem of a coffee shop called Coffee and Fripes. Stop for a well earned coffee and pastry then browse through the affordably priced vintage clothing. If you are still hungry, a couple of shops away is the historic G.Kelly’s Pie and Mash shop. Still owned by the Kelly family, I recommend their vegan pies (my husband recommends their meat pies).
The Vintage Furniture Flea, Sunday 26 February 2023
Walk off lunch by heading away from the market, along The Roman (road) towards Grove Road. Cross over at the main crossing head left down Grove Road until you get to the Art Pavillion set back in Mile End Park and the new home of the Vintage Furniture Flea. This popular furniture flea market is best known for being at York Hall in Bethnal Green but it has moved to a new home from 2023.
Spread across two venues, the Ecology and Art Pavilion, a short walk away along Grove Road. One ticket price gives you entry into both venues. I’ll have a stand selling my vintage fabric with a focus on soft furnishing fabrics for this fair. I’ll be bringing along lots of William Morris and Sanderson vintage fabrics, vintage cotton Barkcloth and vibrant mid-century prints. Pre-book tickets (also available on the door) and more details can be found on the link below.
After all that vintage shopping it is time for a well earned rest and a pint at my favourite pub, The Palm Tree, right in the middle of Mile End park, just behind the Ecology Pavilion. As the night falls outside the orange glow of the 1970s lightbulbs entice you in. Marvel at the gold flocked wallpaper not changed since the Barret family took over the pub in the 1970s. The weekend jazz nights start and finish late, gets super busy and is loads of fun. The pub has a more relaxed atmosphere in the build up to the Jazz. Save some cash from shopping for a pint as they don’t take cards in the pub. If you are hungry, I recommend Ciao Bella just across the canal bridge. Amazing pasta and pizza for reasonable prices.
Another busy market street, it is within walking distance of Columbia Road. I haven’t specified any particular shops here because there are so many. It takes a whole day out to visit all the vintage on offer in Brick Lane. The majority sell fashion, not as good if you are looking for homewares too.