Antique markets and the war over an ear

This day in London’s history: on 22 November 1739, the British secured a naval victory over the Spanish at the Battle of Porto Bello in Panama. This took place during the War of the Austrian Succession, sometimes known as the War of Jenkins’ Ear. The name was coined by Thomas Carlyle; the ear in question was severed from its owner, captain of a British merchant ship, when his vessel was boarded by Spanish coast guards. This provided the impetus for war.

The battle gave its name to Portobello Road in London, now famous for its antiques market, and originally no more than a winding country path known as Green Lane. Portobello Farm was built in 1740, named after the famous battle, and then gave its name to the road.

Portobello Road

The famous market, said to be the largest antiques market in the UK, began as a fresh food market in the 19th century, and antiques dealers arrived in the late 1940s. There is a blue plaque at 115 Portobello Road for June Awlward, who established the first antique shop in the road.


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