Market Place

The Market Place covers 2¾ acres and is one of the largest open-air markets in England. As early as 1385 the area was paved and in that year the first Market Cross was erected. The third (and last) Market Cross was removed in 1836, when the site was marked by a cruciform stone paving. Some of the buildings, particularly on the west side, are houses of 16th, 17th and 18th century origin, though this is disguised by their 20th century frontages. Being at the centre of the town, the market not only had a cross, but a cage, a pillory and stocks for punishing offending townsfolk, in particular, those vendors found guilty of giving short measure or selling bad produce. King Charles II granted a charter to the town in 1684 to hold two annual fairs, which were held in the Market Place; one in April and the other in August. By 1826, the August Fair had moved to Shrove Monday and Tuesday, and was known as the Cock Fair, as cock-fighting was one of its chief attractions. It ceased in 1891. The April Fair was at first held on Good Friday, but in 1715 it was moved to the Friday and Saturday following Easter. This fair continues to be held; a travelling fair still visits the town every year on the Friday and Saturday of Easter Week

Year

Event

1384

The Market Place was partially paved and a pillory built.

1385

The first Market Cross was erected in the Market Place.

1509

The Market Cross erected in 1385 was replaced with a new one.

1546

The town built a large building on the Market for use by the butchers.

1604

The third Market Cross was erected and the Market was extended to the north.

1650

The paving of the Market Place was completed.

1729

A fourth Market Cross was erected, it was circular and supported on pillars. The Pillory was removed.

1792

There were riots in the Market Place and the gaol was broken open by the mob.

1816

The stocks opposite the Hospital School were last used.

1819

The pump was erected in the Market Place to supply water.

1820

A whole ox was roasted in the Market Place to celebrate the Coronation of George IV.

1836

The last Market Cross was removed and sold for £55.6.0.

1890

The Market Pump was removed.

1897

21 schools were given dinner in the Market Place to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.

1914

A brass tablet was placed in the Market Place to mark the site of the Market Cross.

1936

The Corporation purchased a motor road sweeper for the Market Place for £500.

1950

One way working was introduced around Theatre Plain, Regent Road (top), King Street and Market Place.

1983

An historic cannon found near the Armoury, Southtown Road, was placed outside the Fisherman’s Hospital on a replica carriage.

1988

The Market was pedestrianised.

1994

A stone tablet was set in the Market Place to mark the site of the Market Pump.

1995

The official opening ceremony for the pedestrianised Market Place.

2008

800th anniversary of the Royal Charter of 1208 visit and walkabout by HRH Princess Anne.

2012

Visit by HRH Prince Charles the Prince of Wales.

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