Short history see--
For description by Dickens and others see--
Smithfield, aka West Smithfield is on the right side center of this 1746 map
Smithfield, or, Smoothfield, the "campus planus re et nomine" of Fitzstephen, an open area in the form of an irregular polygon containing 51 acres, for centuries, and until 1855, used as a market for sheep, horses, cattle and hay. It is sometimes called West Smithfield, to distinguish it from a place of smaller consequence of the same name in the east of London.
Falslaff. Where's Bardolph?
Page. He's gone into Smithfield to buy your worship a horse.
---London, Past and Present. H.B. Wheatley, 1891.
In a suburb immediately outside one of the gates there is a field that is smooth, both in name and in fact. Every Friday (unless it is an important holy day requiring solemnity) crowds are drawn to the show and sale of fine horses. This attracts the earls, barons and knights who are then in the city, along with many citizens, whether to buy or just to watch. It is a delight to see the palfreys trotting gently around, the blood pumping in their veins, their coats glistening with sweat, as they alternately raise then lower both feet on one side together. Then to see the horses more suitable for squires, rougher yet quicker in their movements, simultaneously lifting one set of feet and setting down the opposite set. After that the high-bred young colts, not yet trained or broken, "high-stepping with elastic tread". Next packhorses, with robust and powerful legs. Then expensive war horses, tall and graceful, "with quivering ears, high necks and plump buttocks". Prospective buyers watch as all are put through their paces: first, their trot, followed by their gallop (in which their two sets of legs, front and rear, are thrust out forwards and backwards, in opposition to each other).
---Description of the City of London. William FitzStephen, late 12th centuy.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.