How Harborough will be celebrating the 800th anniversary of the town's much-loved Tuesday market
The market has been right at the heart of Market Harborough since the Middle Ages
A set of special events are being lined up to mark the 800th anniversary of the Tuesday market in Market Harborough.
This year marks eight centuries of the much-loved Tuesday mart being held in the town.
And to celebrate a new historic market trail will be launched, along with some special guided walks.
A ‘People’s Gallery’ featuring photographs of the market through the ages, will be “displayed with pride” at the popular indoor market in Northampton Road from this Wednesday (September 8).
Supported by Leicestershire County Council, there will also be a curated exhibition and three display panels at Harborough Museum from Wednesday.
The market has been right at the heart of Market Harborough since the deepest Middle Ages.
King John granted a royal market charter to the town of Market Harborough in 1204.
But the Tuesday market didn’t begin until 1221.
That’s the year that the market day was changed from Monday to Tuesday by King Henry III – because a rival market was being held in Rothwell on the same day.
King Henry III ordered the Sheriff of Northamptonshire to close down the Monday Rothwell Market.
But the townspeople refused – so the King changed the Harborough Market day to Tuesday in 1221.
When medieval townsfolk first began buying and selling produce at the market, few would have thought that an incredible 800 years later it market would still be going strong.
Market Harborough grew up around the market.
The mart continued to trade down the high street, beneath the Old Grammar School, at the Town Hall and on the town square on Tuesdays and then Saturdays for centuries.
And then in 1938 the cattle market and a covered market was established on what is now Sainsbury’s car park.
In 1993 the area was redeveloped to create St Mary’s Shopping Centre and the indoor market that you see today was built.
Eight centuries after it was formed, the market is run by Harborough District Council.
Cllr Phil King, who leads Harborough council, said: “This is a hugely important milestone.
“The market has been the beating economic heart of the town for 800 years and we are honoured to be the current custodians.
“The market remains so important to shoppers today.
“As we have seen during the pandemic, it provided a crucial role enabling residents to access food supplies,” stressed Cllr King.
“This week we hope people enjoy the events we have planned and come along to visit the market to see what we’re doing.”
The market through the ages has been a place to buy, to sell, a place for entrepreneurs and for business start-ups.
But at its heart, it is a place for the whole community to come together.
“The indoor market continues to thrive.
At present, there are between 100 to 150 businesses trading at the indoor market each week, including several eateries, and a weekly Antiques and Craft Market,” said the council.
“Recent feedback shows that about 200 people are employed, whilst gross sales are approximately £5 million per annum.”
Bang up to date in the 21st century, the market has hosted the BIG Weekend comedy shows and seen ‘dinosaurs’ roaming the halls.
It’s held Easter bonnet competitions, regularly hosts school visits and carried off a string of retailer awards - including Britain’s Best Small Indoor Market in 2016.
There will be a markets trail guided walk on Friday (September 10) at 7pm and on Saturday at 4pm – visit www.visitharborough.com/walks
Harborough Market currently open from 8am-4pm on a Tuesday to Saturday and from 10am-3pm on Sunday for its popular Antiques Market.
A monthly Farmers Market is also still being staged on The Square on the first Thursday of the month.
To enquire about stall availability at the market, please email market manager Sairah Butt at [email protected]