Smithfield Market, London's wholesale meat market, most likely takes its name from the 'smooth field' on which it was built.
This large open space near the City was used for public events, such as jousts, tournaments and executions. Queen Mary I, 1553-58, had 300 Protestants burned at the stake at Smithfield, earning her the nickname 'Bloody Mary'.
The most famous event to be held here was the annual Bartholomew Fair. Founded in 1123, this cloth fair degenerated over the years into one of London's most raucous entertainments. In 1855 the fair was suppressed by the City authorities for encouraging public disorder and Smithfield Market was built on the site.
The building opened in 1868, designed by Sir Horace Jones, who was also responsible for Billingsgate and Leadenhall Markets.
Sithfield Market, known officially as London Central Markets, has recently undergone a £70 million restoration programme. Sir Horace Jones's East and West Markets are now restored to their original colours of deep blue, red and green with gold stars.
Seeing the market in action means getting up very early - it's all over by 8.00 am! As well as meat you may well find stalls selling produce such as olive oils and cheeses.
Some of the local pubs have special early licences and keep market hours, so breakfast with beer, with the meat porters and early-rising office workers is possible.