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Market History

Find out about the history of your local market.



There is nothing quite like the atmosphere of shopping at a busy market - colourful stalls offering all sorts of goods and services, the cries of "costermongers" (traders) offering their wares and the customers satisfaction on finding a bargain.

Markets may vary from place to place throughout the country but they all have one thing in common. They offer a unique shopping experience combined with a friendly atmosphere and unbeatable prices.


In the past, the right to hold a market was a highly valued privilege granted by the ruling Monarch to Nobles who enjoyed his favour. This privilege was enshrined in a "Royal Charter" which laid down when and where markets (and fairs and festivals) could be held.

When these markets were held, people travelled from miles around to buy and sell the essentials of everyday life. In Medieval times and through the Middle Ages travel was by foot for some, and by horse and cart for others. This meant that a trip to the market was indeed a full day out - in fact for some people the round trip could often be 20 miles. Over time this distance became a measure defining where new markets could be established. As it took all day to travel the 20 miles and visit the market it was estimated that it took a third of the day to get there (and another third to get back home) leaving the remaining third of the long day to buy or trade at the market. This measure slowly evolved as the universally recognised "yardstick" governing the network of markets across the country and using the 20 miles distance together with the third/third/third (of a day), then market rights became protected within a radius of 62/3rd miles of every charter market. This distance is established in law today.

Over time Towns grew up around the sites of regular markets, which were usually held on one or two days each week or on feast days and festivals. Many thriving communities owe their existence to the markets held (or previously held) in their midst.