The First Markets
Harborough Market has had a long and colourful history which began over 800 years ago. There has been a market in Market Harborough since 1204. The market was granted a license by the King, known as a Royal Grant or Charter, which gave the market the right to trade unopposed in the region within a radius of 6 and 2/3 miles. The people of the town had to pay 3 marks (1 mark is 250g of silver) to King John for the right to hold the market.
In 1219 the King ordered the Sheriff of Northamptonshire to investigate whether a new market in Rothwell was harming the market in Market Harborough. Two years later in 1221 they moved the Harborough Market to a Tuesday.
The market continued to trade on Tuesdays and then Saturdays for the next few hundred years, down the high street and in the square, with stalls and cattle tethered and penned all down the street.
Market at the Old Grammar School
In 1614 the Old Grammar school was built with the space beneath it earmarked for market stalls. This is where the old butter market used to trade. The intention for this space was to provide some shelter to traders from the weather, and indeed, traders still use this space today.
During 1800’s there were constant complaints about the nuisance caused by stalls and livestock in the high street on market days and as the town grew in both population and retail, it was increasingly impractical for the market to sprawl through the main street. However, despite this, the market traded all down the high street and in the square for the over 730 years.
In 1938 the cattle market and a covered market were established on what is now Sainsbury’s car park. The settling rooms which you can still see today, is where the traders used to ‘settle’ their rent and transactions/sales took place.
In 1993 the area was redeveloped to create St Mary’s Shopping Centre and the new market that you see today was built.
Current Market Hall
In 2014 the market underwent a further revamp with the refurbishment of the food hall, new toilets and changes to the general hall.
Harborough Market was voted Britain’s Best Small Indoor Market 2016 by the National Association of British Market Association, and was the Leicester Mercury’s 2016 Leicestershire Retail Business of the Year.
Despite all of the changes throughout the years, and after over 800 of trading, market trading in the town essentially remains the same at heart. We are a Market town that is proud to support our market and its traders.