A number of valued City institutions are located in the area, such as St Bartholomew's Hospital, the Charterhouse, and Livery Halls notably those of the Butchers' and Haberdashers' Companies, but Smithfield is best known for its ancient meat market, being London's only remaining wholesale market in continuous operation since medieval times.
Smithfield has borne witness to many bloody executions of heretics and political rebels over the centuries, including major historical figures such as Scottish patriot Sir William Wallace and Wat Tyler, leader of the Peasants' Revolt, among many other religious reformers and dissenters.
Smithfield Market, a Grade II listed-covered market building, was designed by Victorian architect Sir Horace Jones in the second half of the 19th century, and is the dominant architectural feature of the area. Some of its original market premises fell in to disuse in the late 20th century and faced the prospect of demolition. The Corporation of London's public enquiry in 2012 drew widespread support for an urban regeneration plan intent upon preserving Smithfield's historical identity.