The covered market

One of the chief reasons I always stay within striking distance of Oxford when I come to England for a few weeks is the Covered Market.
The Market is a Victorian glass cover over a hive of shops, from carrots to watches, shoes to fresh pasta, coffee to cheese. It’s where I head if I crave those gorgeously fresh, tender English strawberries–the kind that reveal tiny wisps of the actual straw that has cushioned the berries from the ground–or a loaf of the wholemeal bread I’ve tasted from nowhere else in the world.
I understand the Oxford city council is about to make a series of rent increases that will drive many of these independent retailers out of the Market, which would be a tragedy. Mary Russell passed through here, drank tea here at Brown’s Cafe,

dodged delivery vans here.

During the times I’ve lived in Oxford, I’ve passed by the supermarket fruit-and-veg departments to shop at Bonner’s, where the men who worked the stall did all the math in their head. (Of course, if they were wrong, would I have known?) The younger generation now uses paper, but the fruit-and-veg are still superb.
If they disappear from the Market, Oxford will be the less for the absence.


There’s some interesting history of the covered market,

. And if you would like to sign a petition to help save the market, that is


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  1. Karen Debenham on August 8, 2013 at 4:42 am

    Please do not increase the rents for the stall holders in the Covered Market. Does the Council really want to be known for destroying a part of it’s town history as many shops would not be able to survive an increase.
    Karen Debenham

  2. Librariandoa on August 8, 2013 at 5:13 am

    Thanks for this. We’ll be in Oxford for the first time in a little over a month and we’ll be sure to visit the market. I hope it will be intact!

  3. Merrily Taylor on August 8, 2013 at 5:54 am

    Do we need to start an internet campaign, “Leave the Covered Market alone!”? I too have wandered happily through there…

  4. Tricia Mills on August 8, 2013 at 6:36 am

    Oh no! I hope the market and its present shops survive. I love reading with a book/reader in one hand and Google in the other. Salisbury Cathedral…images of it internal and external right here. I am reading ‘Garment of Shadows” and was looking at Fez (Fes) on Google maps. On JK Rowling’s new book, I could trace her route from the Tube to the cafe.
    Next time I go to Oxford, I will find your market and have tea at Brown’s cafe. I wonder if they have sticky toffee pudding. I missed my chance at Kew Gardens train station because I was being good. Waste of goodness. Have you ever been to the Royal Windsor Horse Show? Loaded with so many real English country people. And Prince Phillip was handing out ribbons to handicapped drivers in one of the coaching classes, being so warm and friendly. Also, I saw the French Foreign Legion marching band! they were at Windsor for the Royal Tattoo

  5. Mark Andresen on August 8, 2013 at 6:52 am

    Please don’t raise the rents on Oxford’s covered markets.

  6. Vicki VanValkenburgh on August 8, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Nooooo! Leave the CM alone, for corn’s sake. The gathering of special, unique places there makes it one of the most charming and awesome places in Oxford, and probably in the UK. I ate many a lunch at Brown’s Cafe during a college summer program in Oxford back in the 80s, and supplemented the largely beef and potatoes meals with the lovely fruit purchases afterwards. How sad to think it all might be gutted by silly people.

    I’m with Merrily–we need to protest en masse as the Friends of Russell!

  7. Helen Martin on August 8, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Left a comment on the petition. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it they say. Oxford doesn’t seem to be broken. By the way, I have a reprint of a 1929 railway poster for Southern Rail’s service to Eastbourne. It shows the promenade, the hotels and so on, but not the rail station unfortunately. Nice piece of work.

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