How much do you know about Camden?

Camden Town is a neighbourhood in London located close to our hostels, especially our Swiss Cottage one.

It has one of the most famous street markets in the city and is a place where people have an alternative lifestyle as well. Actually, people often refer to Camden Market as one single place, although it’s a number of adjoining large retail markets, being the Stable Market the most famous one. Without a doubt Camden is a place that breaths art in many ways. We recommend visiting it both day and night, as the market and shops are for the daylight and the pubs and clubs for the nightlife. Many famous people lived there throughout history: Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, Arthur Rimbaud, George Orwell and Dylan Thomas; just to name a few. Closer to this date we can mention the names of Liam Gallagher and Amy Winehouse.

Quirky shops on Camden High Street
Quirky shops on Camden High Street

Camden Town was born at the end of the XVIII century. Before that, there were only farmlands. To think that at a point there were only two Inns in Camden it’s quite shocking. One of them was “The Southampton”, currently “Edwards”. The second one was “Mother Red Cap”, now better known as “The World’s end”. It had that name because of a lady who lived in the area back in the XVII century and was accused of doing witchcraft. Her ways and temper were well known throughout the district and she would often sit outside the current pub wearing her old red cap on her head, and her shawl (with black markings that resembled bats) around her shoulders. Crowds would gather to hurl abuse at her but with her cat by her side they would soon retreat from “The Evil Duo”. They both died on the same day with poison being suspected. Whether self-inflicted or administered by someone else will never be known.

The name of the neighbourhood comes from the first person who proposed and developed the first urbanism plan for the area. His name was Charles Pratt, Count of Camden. He was recognised with a street in Camden’s heart.

Camden’s transformation started with the opening of the Grand Union Canal in 1820 and the Euston Station in 1837. The opening of the Camden Town Underground Station in 1907 marked the complete integration between the old rural zone of Camden and the new City.

A Barge in Camden Lock
A Barge in Camden Lock

During Second World War, Mornington Crescent was bombarded by the Germans several times because the rail tracks were a strategic objective. After the war, a lot of immigrants found a new home in Camden making it very cosmopolitan with the pass of time. It’s nowadays a place that breathes art, fashion and music.

As mentioned before, Camden is very famous because of its markets. It all started in 1974 when many people started mounting humble stands and selling used clothes and crafts. Now, more than 100.000 people visit it every weekend and their food section has delicious treats from all over the world.

The Stables Market is located in the historic former Pickfords stables and Grade II listed horse hospital which served the horses pulling Pickford’s distribution vans and barges along the canal. Many of the stalls and shops are set in large arches in railway viaducts. Chain stores are not permitted and trade is provided by a mixture of small enclosed and outdoor shops and stalls, of which some are permanent, and others hired by the day. This market is impressive because of the architecture, the decoration and the statues all around the place.

Camden Stables Market
Camden Stables Market

We strongly recommend visiting it as it’s a very nice place for everyone and has a great history.


Photos by London and Partners.

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