Cheapside has been the market and shopping centre of the City of London for centuries and was the main market place in the whole of London.
The word ‘cheap’ comes from the Anglo Saxon word to barter or ‘market place’ – “of good cheap” or “’tis good cheap” (being sold at a fair price). The word evolved into the modern use of using it to express when something is inexpensive and today the word is no longer used to denote a market.
Many cities in the United Kingdom have a Cheapside or a Cheap Street. Those towns or cities with the prefix of Chipping in their name, also refers to it being a market town.
Street names running from Cheapside tell you where the cows were kept, bought and sold, or where the bread was made, or the wood was delivered. And to this day the City of London has the same street plan and the same street names, which dates back to medieval times.
The Market rights of the City of London were based on a charter granted by Edward III in 1327. The charter did not allow for anyone to set up a rival markets within 6.6 miles of the City. This was a reasonable distance a person walk to market with their produce, sell his goods and return home in the same day.
Today London has more than three hundred markets. Many specialise in food, some in arts and crafts but many focus on funky fashion, exotic people and trendy places to be seen.