Monday, February 11, 2008

Covered Market, Oxford

In my undergraduate days you could get most things in Oxford’s Covered Market – fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, secondhand books and records, and discounted jeans. It was also home to a couple of tea shops the provided a welcome refuge from the Bodleian Library when the afternoon energy gap yawned.

The Covered Market, tucked behind the High, has been serving both town and gown for about 230 years. It was originally built in the early 1770s as a way of tidying away the stalls that cluttered the city’s main streets. The architect was John Gwynn, who also designed Magdalen Bridge, but most of what we see today, including the intricate roof trusses, dates from a 19th-century rebuild. It’s thus a typical Victorian market hall, with partly glazed roof and stalls that are mostly enclosed like miniature shops. The shops are arranged along four aisles, which open up here and there into cross-passages and spaces bathed in light that comes in through the roof and the high windows.

Nowadays the Covered Market has quite a lot of gift shops that cater for the tourists who venture in off the High Street. But you can still buy all kinds of food there too, and the wholesome smell of veg and fish mean that the place retains the atmosphere of a market rather than a mall.


Peter Ashley said...

You're getting so prolific Philip I can't keep up. Is this the market that has that incredibly red butchers? David John?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Yes, that's the one. It's interesting that what began as an attempt to clear unsightly stalls away from Oxford's exalted streets has itself become one of the city's picturesque places.

doug fitch said...

Hi Philip
I used to know Sid very well, what a lovely man he was. I used to go and do video interviews with him. I saw Marie back in the autumn and I've become friendly with his grandson Steve recently. Elijah Comfort's great, great grandson is staying with me at the moment.
I enjoy your blog by the way

potok said...

When I was a student the fishmongers once had a shark for sale. Some students bought it and overnight set it a la Jaws in Christchurch fountain.

The bulldogs removed it of course, University officials have no sense of humour,

Philip Wilkinson said...

Doug - I know Sid's son, Roy, quite well, and also Steve. The old cliché is right, it's a small world.

Potok - What larks... It beats putting umbrellas over the emperors' heads.

Pierre said...

your views of the Market. Sounds like a fun place and I've added a link to it from our travel community at trivago.