Turkeys at Smithfield in fowl mood about Christmas

Turkeys are not having a good time of it this Christmas—but then, they never did.

They’ve been hanging around in a fowl mood at Smithfield Market, in the City of London, ready plucked for the Yultide trade.

It follows a tradition at the City’s wholesale meat trade market near St Paul’s going back to the Middle Ages.

But few realise what a bloody history Smithfield has—involving humans as much as turkeys.

It was the site of countless executions of heretics and political dissidents, including Wat Tyler who led the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381 against poll tax and surf conditions which had its final confrontation at Smithfield with a young King Richard II.

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Tyler was reputedly assassinated at Smithfield by the City’s Lord Mayor, with his head ending up on a pike at London Bridge like a turkey at Christmas.

Today, the market is dominated by 31 wholesalers belonging to Smithfield Tenants’ Association which was first established in 1869 as a collective negotiating on issues of the day. Its oldest member is David Andrade & Sons which has been in the same family since the 18th century.

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Their big issue today is Crossrail and the four giant subterranean boring machines heading their way. Two machines which started from Canning Town last month now burrowing towards Canary Wharf and Whitechapel are due to meet another two coming the other way in 2014 at Farringdon, just round the corner from the historic market.

The traders have been in a bit of flap about it—like their turkeys in this run-up to Christmas.

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