St Nicholas Market is a cherished attraction in Bristol city centre, loved by the city’s residents and visitors alike for its vast array of independent retailers and food stalls.
With more than 60 vendors in total, the market is a must-see for anyone coming to Bristol, no matter how fleeting their visit.
Established in 1743, St Nick’s has been hailed as one of the best markets in the UK by national publications on numerous occasions and it only takes one brief visit to see why.
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But how much do you know about the beloved shopping centre? There are some interesting things that might just have just slipped by you – even though they’re in plain sight.
Here are seven facts about the market – do you know any others we’ve missed? Let us know in the comment section below.
There’s a scandalous story hidden in the ceiling
One of the two turned heads in the main hall
If you look up to the ceiling at St Nicholas Market, you’ll see a scandalous story hidden in plain sight.
Around the outside of the main hall there are around 12 porcelain figures all looking in towards the middle – apart from two, which are turning their heads to look at each other.
Rumour has it this is because those two women were the wife and mistress of the building’s architect, John Wood the Elder. See if you can spot them next time you visit.
There are two minute hands on its clock
The sign explaining the intriguing Corn Exchange Clock
As the sign at the front of the historic building states, there is an extra minute hand on the clock at St Nicholas Market which recalls old Victorian days, when Bristol was in two minds about the correct time.
It reads: “The clock on this building with an extra minute hand recalls early Victorian days, when Bristol was in two minds about the correct time.
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“Although today we take Greenwich Mean Time or British Summertime for granted before 1880 no standard time existed in the British Isles. Every city had its own local time, reckoned by the sun and signed by church bells.”
More information can be found by reading the sign, pictured above.
The basement showcases a vast range of Indian artefacts
If you take the steps that go down to the right before entering the main hall, you’ll find an absolute treasure trove of authentic Indian artefacts.
Lunartique is packed with a vibrant mix of Indian textiles, wedding tiaras and jewellery, chandeliers, stained glass and funky clothes.
Run by Helen Christini, all textiles in the shop are imported from India and the shop also doubles up as her own studio. It’s well worth popping in, if only to admire the craftsmanship.
It’s home to Bristol’s oldest sweet shop
Treasure Chest Sweets
Treasure Island Sweets is exactly what you want from a sweet shop – a vast amount of sweets stored in countless jars lining the walls, giving it a very traditional look.
Established in 2003, it sells all manner of retro sweets, liquorice, ice cream, American candy, gluten and sugar free sweets and more.
Owners Wesley and Toni Thorne also make up gift sweet hampers and stock a variety of confectionery for weddings and events.
As well as two of Bristol’s oldest pubs
The Crown pub in St Nicholas Market
(Image: jon Kent/Bristol Live)
The Crown and The Rummer Hotel date back to 1741 and 1742 respectively, making them two of the oldest pubs in Bristol.
With a secret venue in its basement, The Crown has been taken on by a new owner who hopes to reopen with a new look this autumn.
The Rummer was the location of the first ever Freemasons meeting in 1735, and is a hit especially with gin lovers thanks to its huge range of the juniper-based drink.
It has one of the South West’s oldest bookshops
Beware Of The Leopard Books
Beware of the Leopards Books is Bristol’s biggest and longest established bookshop, and one of the oldest in the South West.
Run by David Jackson, the shop is home to a whopping collection of 25,000 second-hand books.
With two sites facing each other, one full of every kind of fiction and the other with everything else including history, transport and academic subjects, it’s a bookworm’s dream.
There are three record shops there
Wanted Records – one of four in the market
There can’t be many places in the UK that are better for vinyl shopping than St Nicholas Market.
Payback, Wanted and The Rock Shop all offer something different and cover a huge range of genres, with Payback specialising in dub and reggae, Wanted on older, rarer releases and The Rock Shop on rock, obviously.
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