Spitalfields Life

Our friend, The Gentle Author, writes a blog about the life and culture of Spitalfields. Until recently, we had been the oldest family business situated in the area, and we were fortunate to feature in many of the online write-ups. The blog has thousands of followers and many stories have been collated into books, which can be found here. In the author's own words,

"Over the coming days, weeks, months and years, I am going to write every single day and tell you about life here in Spitalfields at the heart of London. How can I ever describe the exuberant richness and multiplicity of culture in this place to you?  This is both my task and my delight."

You can see more information in this interview and Guardian article. Below are some of the highlights we've featured in over the years:


Paul Gardner, Paper Bag Seller (28/01/2010) : The Gentle Author's first story on Gardners' giving some history and a feel for what it's like to visit. 

Paul Gardner's Collection (10/02/2010): This story covers some of the items from the business history, including the family Bible (from 1870) as well as old tickets and signs from Roy Gardner.

Joan Rose at Gardners Market Sundriesman (05/06/2010):  Joan Rose, a customer who has visited the shop since she was 14 (when Bertie - second generation seller! - was around), recounts her memories. 


At Gardners Market Sundriesman (20/12/2011): To put it in the Gentle Author's words,“You cannot really say you have been to Spitalfields unless you have shook the hand of Paul Gardner, the fourth generation paper bag seller,”


James Brown at Gardners Market Sundriesman (09/02/2012): Illustrator, printer and friend James Brown comes to the shop and speaks about his experiences of the business and the East End after finishing a Gardners' print.


Vigil at Gardners Market Sundriesman (01/01/2013): Christmas Eve at Gardners', featuring the empty streets of the East End and the new line of knitted dog coats from Paul's mother, Vera.

Roy Gardner's Sales Tickets (26/02/2013): Roy Gardner, Paul's father, used to design and sell sales tickets for the nearby Spitalfields fruit market. This story highlights these historic designs and drawings.

Paul Gardner, Paper Bag Baron (14/05/2013): A story outlining the history from Spitalfields Fruit Market. Metin, a customer who came to the shop since his childhood recounts, “I came in here as a kid when my dad bought his bags, and you were here as a kid too, and I never thought I’d come back to buy my own bags from you,”

Christmas at Gardners Market Sundriesman (24/12/2013): Stephen (Paul's son) and Paul talk about their experience through the busy Christmas period, as well as many other small business owners who visit to collect goods.


Paul Gardner 2/8 (28/10/2016): A link to a video by  Imogen Farrell, Joshua Kwan & Alice Lees about the shop.

Paul Gardner Goes To Downing Street (03/12/2016): The Gentle Author writes about Gardners' nomination as one the top 100 Small Businesses of 2016, and Paul's subsequent visit to Downing Street.


Paul Gardner Returns To Downing Street (08/03/2017): After gaining 10,000 signatures for an East End Trades Guild petition on business rates, Paul, Sarah Haque and Len Maloney visit Downing Street.


Paul Gardner, Paper Bag Seller (25/08/2019): The Gentle Author celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Spitalfields Life blog, rewriting about some of his favourite stories.


150 Years in Commercial Street (02/01/2020): After 150 years, we had to relocate from Spitalfields to Leyton. This story reviews Gardners' time in the area, from fighting rent and rates to helping set up the East End Trades Guild.

Packing Up Gardners Market Sundriesman (05/01/2020): We are indebted to the many friends and customers who helped us clear the (somewhat mad) shop before our move. Photographer Sarah Ainsley took many photos of the day and all those who came to help.

Paul Gardner's Party (08/01/2020): Before leaving, we managed to hold a farewell party, which was attended by long term customers, partners and friends. The Gentle Author here pays a generous tribute to Gardners', featuring many photos taken by our friend, Sarah Ainsley.