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1.1 From the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066, the holding of a Market was a privilege needing Royal permission. Of course, a great deal of unofficial trading still went on, but the traders could get into a lot of trouble if caught. In 2015, Loughborough Market and Fair became 794 years old and the oldest in the Charnwood Area. The nearest other market at the time was at Melton, which is much older, being mentioned in Domesday Book in 1086. Other Charnwood villages which went on to receive charters later include Mountsorrel in 04

1292 and Wymeswold in 1337.


1.2 The earliest reference to Loughborough Market is in the Royal Charter of 1221. This was issued to Hugh Despenser, Lord of the Manor of Loughborough by King Henry III. At that time, the King was ruling as a minor, so the 1221 Charter is legally only an interim permission, needing later confirmation when the King was an adult.




2.1 "Of




Loughborough. The Lord the King grants to Hugh Despenser that he have until his (lawful) age, one Market every week on Thursday at his Manor of Loughborough... And the Sheriff of Leicestershire is ordered to cause him to have that market... Witness... at the Tower of London, 22nd day of 10


"Of the Fair of Loughborough. The Lord the King grants to Hugh le Despenser that he have until the (lawful) age of the Lord the King one fair at his manor of Loughborough every year in the Vigil and in the Day of St Peter ad Vincula* and the Sheriff of Leicestershire is ordered to cause him to have that fair. Witness... at Westminster, 27th day of January in the fifth year of our reign" (*The "Vigil and Day of St Peter ad Vincula" was July 31st and August 1st) Luckily, the King did not change his mind when he reached adulthood and confirmed these charters in a much more specific and elaborate document in 1227.




3.1 "Henry, by the Grace of God... Know that we have granted to our beloved subject Hugh Despenser that he and his heirs have and hold for ever, one market every week on Thursday at his Manor of Lugteburgh (sic) and that they have there one fair every year for three days duration in the day and in the morrow of St Peter ad Vinculpa".


3.2 All of the rental income and So the fair had gained an

benefits of the market went

extra day. The next year, in

straight to the Lord of the

1228, Loughborough was

Manor of Loughborough, in

given permission to hold a

this case, Hugh le Despenser.

second fair on November 2nd.

He was a favourite of Henry

There was later considerable

III and fought with Simon

confusion over the correct date

de Montfort at the Battle of

due to the change from the

Evesham. In 1232, he was also

Julian to Gregorian calendar

given the estate of Beaumanor.

in 1752, when eleven days

He was probably not actually

were seemingly "lost". This

in Loughborough very often

was sorted out by an order

and the town would have been

obtained by the Local Board

run by an appointed bailiff.

of Health in 1881, officially

When the Despensers fell

altering the opening day

from power in the fourteenth

to the second Thursday in

century, the titles and lands of

November. Sections of the

Loughborough Lordship were

1221 Charter are still read out

given to the Beaumont family.

by the Mayor of Charnwood

Later still, the title and benefits

from the balcony of the Town

went to the Earl of Huntingdon.

Hall at the official opening of

The first annual value of the

the November Fair.

markets and fairs was ÂŁ5.00.



4.1 In it's earliest years, the Loughborough Market was probably held in the church or churchyard but there is little evidence either way. If this did happen in Loughborough, it moved very early in it's life to what is recorded as "an open area, west of the London Road". In other words, just where it is now.

4.2 Until the 16th century, market affairs were dominated by the Medieval Trade Guilds, who fixed prices and maintained standards. The Guilds held an annual processional pageant in the town, ending in the Market Place with performances of Miracle Plays at the Market Cross. The site of the original Guildhall Of St George's Guild in the Market Place is thought to have been on the site now occupied by Boots the Chemist.

4.3 One of the main items sold at the early market was wool. Merchants came here to trade from great distances - not only from London but also France. A "branch" of the Wool Merchants of the Staple of Calais was based at the Market. There is a record of one London Merchant who was robbed and murdered in 1322 when on his way back from Loughborough Market. Although four men from Quorn, Rothley and Cropston were strongly suspected, they were never convicted.


4.4 Courts were usually held to coincide with fair and market days and in 1688 a special Court Leet Chamber was built


to house them. This was at

The Market Place also had

what is now the Town Hall

"orchards, gardens and

end of Market Street. As well

barns" and the Manor Fish

as the open stalls, buildings

Pool was to be found at one

began to spring up around

end of the Market Place.

the market place. Most were

The Town Cross was set up

timber frames, with brick only

in the Market Place in the

appearing in the 15th century.

15th Century. Early traders

Booths were also common,

included several names which

each of which could contain

were to become famous later.

several covered stalls. These

These included the draper

were the forerunners of shops

and tailor Thomas Burton,

and provided the stall holders

the founder of Loughborough

with shelter from the weather

Grammar School and Robert

and a stool to sit on - rather

Le Baxterre, who, according to

better conditions than they get

some sources, may have given


his name to Baxter Gate.

4.5 By the early 1600s, there were two more Inns on the Market Place - "The Blackamoor's Head" and "The Plough Inn". Toll disputes were by now a regular occurrence and changes were always proclaimed in the Market Place. The biggest protest concerned market tolls from tenants of the Duchy of


Lancaster or, rather, the lack

During the Civil War of the

of them. Many Charnwood

1640s, Colonel Henry Hastings

villages were inside the Duchy

proclaimed the first of the

but Loughborough itself was

King's Commissions in the

not. Duchy tenants did not

Market Place before leading

have to pay tolls to sell at

an attack on Leicester. Other

markets outside the Duchy but

than that, the Market Place was

non tenants did. The effect

not greatly affected other than

of this was stall holders who

as a place to exchange news.

lived in Loughborough had

In fact, with Loughborough

to pay market tolls, whereas

changing hands several times

many from outside the town

during the war and the Market

did not. This was an ongoing

Place being used as a place

source of resentment amongst

to muster soldiers, the stall

Loughborough traders for a

holders probably did rather

long time.

well out of it.

4.6 In the 18th century, markets became more frequent, due to the rising population of the area. The Stocks were still standing. More and more building was taking place around the Market Place, demonstrating its growing importance as a centre of business and trade. Robert Bakewell of Dishley became a regular visitor, showing off his revolutionary new breeds of 28

farm animal.

4.7 By the end of the nineteenth century, there were in effect several different markets and fairs operating in Loughborough: (1) THE RETAIL FAIR: The retail market had now expanded into Devonshire Square. Stalls selling similar produce tended to group together - possibly to keep a close eye on the opposition! For example, all the meat stalls were at the north end of the market, by what is now the A6 - exactly where they are today.

(5) THE HIRING FAIR: Also called the Statits Fair held on Statits Day (usually the first (2) THE CORN FAIR:

day of the Fair). This name

Held inside since the building

is a corruption of the phrase

of the Corn Exchange.

"Statutes Fair" and was for farm workers to hire themselves


out to landowners for the


forthcoming year. In fact, they

Still held regularly, despite the

were hired for "One Year Less

loss of the Butter Cross.

One Day". This is because after one year of residency,


the worker would be classed

This became a totally separate

as "settled" and, under the

event in the 1880s. When the

Poor Law, would become the

fair was on, the cattle market

responsibility of the Parish if

decamped to fields off Derby

he became destitute. In effect,

Road. Most shops near the

length of hiring meant workers

Cattle Market used to board

could be sacked at the end

up their windows when the

of their contract without the

market was on to prevent

parish becoming responsible


for them. (Plus ca change...!)

(6) THE PLEASURE FAIR: The opening of the fair now coincided with the annual Mayor making Ceremony. The


first duty of the new Mayor

A conjuror was attempting

was to read the proclamation

to make a duck magically

from the Town Hall balcony

appear from a top hat, when

and declare the fair open. The

said duck decided to escape

Annual fair was one of the first

and ran off round the market

places where people could

place. The entire audience

see the latest entertainment

poured out of the tent and

revolution - films! As well as

chased the offending bird

the usual "carousel" rides

until it was caught behind

there were ghost shows, helter

the Town Hall. Children in the

skelters, marionettes, boxing

audience declared it was by

booths and the ubiquitous

far the best part of the show

"freak" shows. One "strong

and were very disappointed

man" was caught out when he

when next time the trick

was spotted running to catch

worked! Then as now, the fair

a train with his supposedly

has to be completely clear of

immensely heavy dumb bells

the Market Place by dawn on

tucked effortlessly under his

the Sunday morning. Later in

arms! One of the best bits of

the morning the Mayor held

entertainment in one 1890s

a traditional procession to

fair came about by accident.


4.8 In the 1920s, the Market Place became a popular venue for religious meetings of all kinds, especially with the Salvation Army and the Mormons. Several times in the 1920s, the November Fair stayed on for the Monday and donated the whole day's profits to the Loughborough Hospital. But one year, an informer threatened to sue the council for breach of charter if it happened again. The Council, who had admirably turned a blind eye up until now, reluctantly had to bow to the blackmail and stop the Monday Fair. No-one ever discovered who the informer was and the Hospital lost a substantial annual boost to its funds. A family sized joint of beef could be bought on the 34

market at this time for 2/6d!

During World War II, the Home Guard paraded in the Market Place regularly. In 1996, for the first time, part of the A6 at the end of the Market Place was closed off for the week of the fair. This made the whole of the Fair traffic free and therefore much safer. One custom which is still as magical as ever is the way the fair melts away by dawn on Sunday morning. It is still fascinating to watch the amazing professionalism of the showmen and women as the fair swiftly disappears back into the night - and they always manage to be clear by the traditional time! It can almost be as enthralling as the fair itself!




(2) LOUGHBOROUGH VINTAGE MARKET: Loughborough Vintage Market is held each Friday in the Market Place from approximately 8:00am to





About 44 traders will be

Loughborough Retail Markets

in attendance and offer a

are held in the Market Place

selection of books, antiques,

and adjacent streets in

second-hand and collector’s

Loughborough town centre

items. In addition, members

every Thursday and Saturday,

of the public can sell their

between 7:00am and 5:00pm.

unwanted household items

A variety of fresh produce,

at this popular market. It

clothing, household essentials,

is a wonderful experience

luxury goods and many other

for many people to pass

products are sold by roughly

away time browsing through

125 traders. Most of the goods

those interesting items and

are excellent in quality and

watching out for some unique

reasonable in price.


(3) FARMER'S MARKET: Loughborough Farmer’s Market is usually held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month between 9:00 and 3:00 (except for November because of the Loughborough Street Fair). The market features producers from across the Midlands coming to sell various healthy and organic food including


meat, bread, vegetables,

Just outside Loughborough,

fruit, cheeses, honey,

Shepshed Market is held every

eggs, homemade sauces

Friday between 7:00am and

and preserves as well as

4:00pm in Hallcroft next to

therapeutic products, etc.

the public library and the Co-

Usually around 20 traders will

operative Store.

attend this market depending on the season. They are willing

A variety of traders are in

to share their knowledge about

attendance to sell vegetables

the specialised products they

and fruit, greetings cards and

sell, tell stories about how they

gift wrap and ladies' clothing.

grow or rear them and also

It’s also an opportunity for

give advice about the best way

charities to raise funds by

to cook them to customers.

having a stall to sell goods.


Loughborough Market today is playing a more and more important role in people’s lives as well as being a centre of business and trade in the town. The Market Place is not only a place for local people to look for daily necessities, but also an occasion for communication, interaction, and social life. We sincerely hope that better things continue to occur in the Loughborough Market, bringing the town more vitality and prosperity.

Charnwood Arts 27 Granby Street, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3DU ICID,NCKU No.1, University Road, Tainan City 701, Taiwan (R.O.C.) Original Text Collected By Terry Allen for PMP 2000 Additional Text By Yi-Ping Zhan Editor Yi Yang

ative Indus tri Cre of

D es

tio Na

er sity


Institu te

Photography by Jian-Sheng Sun/ Ting-An Lin/ Yi-Ping Zhan/ Yi Yang

na niv lCh eng Kung U

Profile for Charnwood Arts

Loughborough Markets - People Making Places  

A photo-book and short history of the fascinating story of Loughborough Markets and Fairs produced by students of the National Cheng Kung Un...

Loughborough Markets - People Making Places  

A photo-book and short history of the fascinating story of Loughborough Markets and Fairs produced by students of the National Cheng Kung Un...