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Market Place


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A Royal Charter giving the right to hold a weekly market was awarded to the town in 1412 in the reign of Henry 1V and the Market Cross was built soon after this. It was used by the market officials to conduct their business under shelter. The town's stocks were fixed to the Marke Cross until the early 19th Century; minor offenders would be put in the stocks and were at the mercy of passers by throwing rubbish at them.

There was a big fire in 1569 when 37 houses were destroyed in two hours. Most of the buildings in the Market Place thus date from the late 1500s. Note the fire wall between the Card Boutique and the property next door: it doesn't support either property but is a barrier to the spreading of a fire. Most of the properties had false brick fronts put on as improvements in Victorian times but some have since been removed to show the original timber structure. The estate agent on the corner by the Zebra crossing was the town's museum from 1968 to 1982 - the beams were exposed in 1924.

The Water Pump used to supply water to all those who didn't have their own wells or pumps in their gardens. Mains water was not supplied to the town until 1939 - much later in the villages. There were no proper sewers until the 1940s so a "night soil" cart used to go round the town in the evenings to collect the muck from privies.

The shopping precinct was built in the early 1970s. The Nationwide office preserves the old facade but is new behind: it used to be Clarkes the builders. The Old Vicarage was just to the right of the Nationwide. The Cobbles was going to be knocked down to form part of the precinct but Dr Parsons a local G.P. had an elderly aunt who was living there. It was agreed that she should carry on living there as long as she lived but she lived for so long that by the time she had died the precinct had already been finished. Look carefully at the roof of the Market Cross surgery where there are some very old ridge tiles in the shape of various animals. Many years ago the surgery at No. 7 was a cycle shop and previously a butcher's. No 6 was Mr Minns' saddlery. The Card Boutique was once Snushall's fish shop. Crates of fish used to be delivered overnight and stacked up outside the shop and the local dogs would cock their legs to water the crates!

14th Sep 2007

Art and Design, English, Geography, History

Key Stages:
Foundation, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 4+

Market Cross, stocks, Henry IV, Water Pump, Clarkes the builders, Nationwide, The Cobbles, sewers, night soil cart, water supply.

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