A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 6, the Borough and Liberties of Beverley. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
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MARKETS AND FAIRS
The archbishop claimed in 1293 to hold markets in Beverley on Wednesday and Saturday by prescription (fn. 1) and those remained the chief market days. Two market places usually known at first as Fish Market and Corn Market were later called Wednesday Market and Saturday Market. (fn. 2) The archbishop was exempted from supervision by the royal clerk of the market, a privilege confirmed in 1404. (fn. 3) In 1536 he granted the profits of the office of clerk of the market to the townsmen (fn. 4) but in 1542 the market passed to the Crown on the archbishop's exchange of the manor of Beverley. (fn. 5) The office was granted to Sir Michael Stanhope in 1544 and after his attainder to Robert Dudley, Lord Dudley, in 1561, along with the two markets; it was recovered by the Crown in 1566. (fn. 6) It was conferred upon the mayor of Beverley by the charter of 1573, which also expressly granted the market on Wednesday, together with a court of piepowder. (fn. 7) The Wednesday market fell into disuse in the 18th century and the only markets later held on that day were for cattle. A market was still held in Saturday Market on the traditional day in 1988 and, as an annexe to it, stalls were also pitched in Wednesday Market from 1984. (fn. 8) In the Middle Ages areas within the market places were set aside for different com modities, and cattle markets and fairs were held elsewhere in the town. In the 15th century some goods, chiefly fuel, straw, and salt, were sold at Beckside. (fn. 9) The individual markets and the fairs are considered separately below.
The archbishop evidently appointed an officer to supervise the markets and take the profits. In 1536, however, he agreed that the town governors should choose two of their number as keepers of the markets; their duties included supervision of the town's weights and measures. (fn. 10) A cleanser or market keeper was employed in the Middle Ages and later. (fn. 11) By the late 17th century he had charge of the weights and measures, which were kept in a weighing house, probably in Saturday Market. (fn. 12)
Tolls at the markets and fairs were granted perhaps in 1122 by the archbishop to the townsmen for £12 a year, except for those on the three principal fair days. (fn. 13) In 1536 the tolls were let to the town for 40 years at £5 6s. 8d. a year and that was confirmed in 1543 after the Crown had acquired the manor; they were granted in 1555 'for ever' at the same rent. (fn. 14) In 1617, however, the tolls and certain court profits were included in a Crown grant of the manor for 99 years to the prince of Wales, who let them in 1625 to the corporation for 21 years at a combined rent of £13 6s. 8d.; in 1629 the corporation was assigned the remainder of the term granted in 1617, and in 1685 it received a reversionary grant in fee simple at the same rent. (fn. 15) From at least the late 16th century the collection of tolls and stallage was let by the corporation. (fn. 16) Tolls included gatelaw or through toll, on goods not bought or sold in the town, until 1875, when it was abolished. (fn. 17)
The tolls within the provost's fee belonged to the provost and were mentioned from the 13th century. (fn. 18) Described as tolls of corn in the town and liberties, they were granted by the Crown in 1610 to Francis Morrice and Francis Phillips, and in 1637 to Francis Braddock and Charles Kingscote. They were sold also in 1637 to Robert Worrall and Michael Lambcroft, who sold them later that year to the corporation for £20. (fn. 19)
The modern Wednesday Market may be the remnant of a much larger triangular market place in front of the minster, bounded by Eastgate and Highgate, and it may have been the first market place in the town. (fn. 20) Much of it was evidently soon built over. By the 13th century the remaining open area was called Fish Market and by the 15th century Wednesday Market; in the 18th century the latter name was sometimes also applied to Butcher Row. (fn. 21) The market was apparently little used by 1731, when it was suggested that, with improved management, 'some remains of a market might continue'. (fn. 22) Its total disuse may not have been long delayed. (fn. 23) A small island of buildings in the market place (fn. 24) later obstructed traffic and in 1811 the corporation bought and removed seven houses and cottages. (fn. 25) Wednesday Market contained a cross, said to have been erected by Henry Jarratt in 1723. (fn. 26) The cross was first definitely mentioned in 1730-1, when a cockpit of timber and tiles 'called Wednesday Market cross' was taken down and work was done to the cross by John Rushworth involving the use of stone. (fn. 27) It may thus have been rebuilt. Steps to it were stolen in 1755 and it was rebuilt in 17623 in the form of an obelisk to designs by Edward Rushworth. (fn. 28) It was removed in 1881. (fn. 29) Wednesday Market also accommodated stocks. (fn. 30)
A second market place was evidently laid out by the 12th century. (fn. 31) It was known as Corn Market by the 14th century and Saturday Market by the 16th. (fn. 32) It is possible that the market place originally extended to Hengate and that it was reduced by the building of island blocks of houses and shops at the north end. (fn. 33) Parts of Saturday Market were set aside for specific goods, for example Corn Hill, Butter Dings, Crock Hill, Glover Row, Smith Hill, Sow Hill, and the Butchers' and Fish shambles. (fn. 34) A cross, presumably in Saturday Market, was mentioned in the 15th century (fn. 35) and was described as large in 1697. (fn. 36) It was damaged in or soon before 1707 (fn. 37) and a new one, designed by Samuel Shelton of Wakefield, was built on the site in 1711-14; much of the expense was borne by Sir Charles Hotham, Bt., and Sir Michael Warton. (fn. 38) Repairs were carried out in 1769-70 (fn. 39) and eight urns were placed on the roof in 17978. (fn. 40) The cross is square, with canted corners, and eight columns in pairs support the roof, which is domed and surmounted by a lantern. (fn. 41) The market place accommodated a pillory and stocks. (fn. 42) There were wells on Corn Hill and Sow Hill in the 17th century, (fn. 43) when sun dials were also set up there. (fn. 44) In the Middle Ages the Dings incorporated a bell tower, and the market bell was still mentioned in the 17th century. (fn. 45)
The chief medieval market for meat was held in Saturday Market, but in 1365 sales were also allowed in Barleyholme, near the beck. (fn. 46) The butchers' shambles were mentioned by the 16th century (fn. 47) and comprised more than 40 stalls in the early 18th century. (fn. 48) They probably occupied that part of Saturday Market between the Dings and Ladygate (fn. 49) where they were eventually housed in a permanent building erected in 1753; the new shambles was designed by Samuel Smith the younger and bore the corporation arms. (fn. 50) Parts of it were converted to a corn exchange in 1825 and a butter market in 1834. (fn. 51) The rest was still a butchers' shambles in 1853. (fn. 52) The building erected on the site in 1886 as a corn exchange, butter market, and baths contained no accommodation for butchers, who were said in 1889 to have abandoned Saturday Market in favour of shops. (fn. 53)
Butter and poultry market.
Poultry was sold at the Saturday Market cross in the 15th century, (fn. 54) and the customary place for the sale of butter was evidently that part of the market known by the 18th century as Butter Dings, lying between the cross and the Dings. (fn. 55) The butter house described as in front of the new shambles in 1755 may have been in the Dings. (fn. 56) In 1834 the west side of the butchers' shambles was converted to a butter market. (fn. 57) A new building housing a butter market, as well as a corn exchange and baths, was built on the site in 1886, but it was said in 1889 to be little used, butter and poultry sellers having returned to the market cross. (fn. 58)
Corn was always sold mainly in Saturday Market, the southern part of which was by the mid 17th century known as Corn Hill. (fn. 59) In 1825, however, the front of the nearby butchers' shambles was converted to a corn exchange. (fn. 60) A large new building of red brick with terracotta decorations, designed by Samuel Musgrave of Hull, was erected on the site in 1886; the front, opened that year, housed the corn exchange and behind it were the butter market and baths. (fn. 61) Corn was sold in the exchange on Saturdays until 1947, when the market was moved to the former Albany Hotel, near the cattle market. In 1964 accommodation for it was included in a new office building at the cattle market. (fn. 62)
Although Fish Market was an early name for Wednesday Market (fn. 63) it seems that fish were sold in both market places in the Middle Ages. (fn. 64) There were fish shambles in both in the 17th century (fn. 65) and two fish shambles in Saturday Market and one in Wednesday Market in the 18th century. (fn. 66) A new fish shambles was built in Saturday Market in 1777; it was designed by William Middleton and stood north of the butchers' shambles. (fn. 67) It was ordered to be repaired in 1875 (fn. 68) but it was not replaced when the site was used for the new corn exchange, butter market, and baths in 1886.
In the Middle Ages and later livestock were probably sold on the general market days. (fn. 69) By the 1770s four livestock markets were held each year. A sheep and cattle market on Hurn was ordered in 1777 to be moved from the Wednesday before 14 September to the Wednesday before 25 September. (fn. 70) The following year, however, when the market was said to be for sheep, cattle, swine, and wool, the date was given as the Wednesday before 14 September, and it so remained. The other markets proclaimed that year were for cattle, sheep, and swine on the Wednesday before 5 April and 12 May, and for cattle and swine on the Wednesday after 25 December. (fn. 71) In 1808 farmers living around Beverley successfully petitioned the corporation for a fortnightly cattle market to be held in the town on Wednesdays. (fn. 72) In 1829 the four previously noticed were described as the principal cattle markets (fn. 73) and they were later sometimes called the quarterly fairs. (fn. 74) The corporation, by request, changed the market day to Thursday in 1866 but back to Wednesday in 1870. (fn. 75) In 1889 the fortnightly cattle market was regarded as the sole remnant of the town's traditional Wednesday market. (fn. 76) It was changed to a weekly market in 1944; an additional market on Monday was begun in 1954, but changed to Friday in 1963 and Tuesday in 1971. (fn. 77) In 1978 a group of auctioneers took over the running of the market on lease from the corporation. (fn. 78)
It is likely that the fortnightly cattle markets and most of the so-called quarterly fairs and other cattle fairs (fn. 79) were held in Norwood. That street may have been the large beast market referred to in 1697. (fn. 80) The nuisance caused to householders led to attempts to keep animals away from the western end of the street. Thus in 1785 posts and rails were ordered to be set up at the east end of Norwood, and in 1808 and later the 'stone pillars' there marked the limit for selling animals. (fn. 81) Alternative sites for fairs were examined in 1825 but were thought to be unsuitable. (fn. 82) Animals used a watering dike or pond in Norwood called Spear dike which was ordered in 1838 to be replaced by a pump and trough. (fn. 83) In 1841 householders still complained that on market days cattle were offered for sale within the pillars and on fair days on the footpaths too. (fn. 84) Additional pens for the fortnightly market were provided in Norwood in 1863, but the next year a new market place was laid out on a 2-a. site between Norwood and Morton Lane; it was opened in 1865. (fn. 85) On account of increased business after the Second World War the cattle market was much improved between 1950 and 1955 and again in the 1960s. (fn. 86)
Pigs were sold on part of Saturday Market known by the 16th century as Sow Hill. (fn. 87) By 1854, however, ground adjoining the nearby Globe inn, Ladygate, was used for the pig market (fn. 88) and in 1889 the market was let by the corporation to the owner of the inn. (fn. 89) The market had ceased to exist by 1895 (fn. 90) and pigs were sold in the cattle market.
Income from the weighing of wool was occasionally recorded from 1584-5, (fn. 91) and the weighing was let by the corporation from the mid 17th to the late 18th century. (fn. 92) Wool was sold at the Midsummer fair in 1705 (fn. 93) and at the livestock market in 1777. (fn. 94) A wool market was 're-established' by the corporation in 1849 but business evidently did not justify its continuance. (fn. 95)
A two-day fair held by the archbishop and the canons of St. John's college was increased by Crown grant, perhaps in 1121, to five days, i.e. the three days before and the day and morrow of the nativity of St. John the Baptist (21-5 June). (fn. 96) The archbishop evidently also held fairs on the feast of St. John of Beverley (7 May) and the translation of St. John of Beverley (25 Oct.), for when he granted the tolls to the townsmen perhaps in 1122 he exempted those days as well as 24 June. (fn. 97) In 1174 a fair on Ascension Day and the eight days following was granted by the Crown. (fn. 98) All four fairs were claimed by the archbishop in 1293 as prescriptive: the dates were then given as 7 May, 23-7 June, 24-5 October, and the eve and day of Ascension and seven days following. (fn. 99)
The Crown grant of the manor to Robert Dudley in 1561 included fairs on Ascension Day, the nativity of St. John the Baptist, and the translation of St. John of Beverley and the three days following each feast. (fn. 100) From the 1560s the Ascensiontide fair was known as the Cross fair and it was notable for attracting tradesmen from London. (fn. 101) In 1575 it was ordered to begin, as usual, on the Monday before Rogation week, (fn. 102) and the same starting date was mentioned in 1678. (fn. 103) The week before Rogation week was described by Henry Best in 1642 as wholesale week, Ascension Day or Holy Thursday was said to be the great fair day, and the fair ended on the Saturday following; several horse fairs were said to be held during the time of the fair. Best's affirmation that the Cross fair always began on the feast of St. John of Beverley (7 May) was incorrect. The medieval fair held on that day had not been recorded again; that it often fell within the period of the Ascensiontide fair may explain why it was abandoned. The other two medieval fairs continued to be held, on 24 June and 25 October, and Best also mentioned a 'little fair' in Easter week. (fn. 104) Another fair was granted to the town in 1685, to be held on Thursday before 14 February; it was to be for general goods and animals, and a court of pie-powder was to be held. (fn. 105)
By the later 18th century, after the change in the calendar, the fairs were held on Thursday before 25 February, Holy Thursday, 5 July, and 5 November. (fn. 106) In the 19th century they were known as the Candlemas, Holy Thursday or May Day, Midsummer, and Ringing Day fairs. All were for horses and cattle, but the last two also included pleasure fairs. In addition a statute fair was held on 6 November, but hirings were also made later in the month. (fn. 107) In 1928 sheep and cattle were still sold on 5 November but that was the only remaining agricultural fair (fn. 108) and it, too, was later disused.
The Cross fair was held in Highgate or Londoners' Street and in Wednesday Market (fn. 109) for the sale of general goods, but animals were sold elsewhere. In 1673 it was ordered that on Ascension Day, 24 June, and 25 October the cattle fair should be held in Norwood, the horse fair in North Bar Within, and the sheep fair in North Bar Without, and in 1675 on 25 October cattle were to be shown in North Bar Within and horses and sheep in North Bar Without. (fn. 110) The fair held on Thursday before 14 February was ordered in 1686 to be held in Saturday Market for general goods, in North Bar Within for cattle, and in North Bar Without for horses and sheep. (fn. 111) Horses sometimes stood in North Bar Without in the early 18th and early 19th century (fn. 112) but always in North Bar Within later in the 19th century; they were moved thence to Norwood in 1889. (fn. 113) Cattle were sold in Norwood from the late 18th century, (fn. 114) but from 1865 cattle fairs were held in the new cattle market, an adjoining paddock providing additional space; horses remained in Norwood, in the street or inn yards. (fn. 115)
The pleasure fairs were held in Saturday Market in the late 19th century. (fn. 116) By 1920 they included fairs during the weeks before and after Hull fair in early October. (fn. 117) In 1959 it was decided to hold the Midsummer and November fairs on a car park in Morton Lane and in 1960 the other two fairs as well. (fn. 118) Three pleasure fairs were held in 1987. (fn. 119)