Gazetteer Home Page

Basic Introduction

What is the Gazetteer?
Who will use the Gazetteer?
What information does the Gazetteer provide?
How to read a Gazetteer entry
What was a market? What was a fair?
What is the evidence for markets and fairs?
Why are some entries longer than others?
In what ways is the Welsh section different from the English section?
How are the different types of markets and fairs described in the Gazetteer?
Note on Dating
How are individuals mentioned in the Gazetteer identified?
Religious Institutions
Heirs and Successors
Dates of Fairs
Why is the Gazetteer important?
Why was 1516 chosen as the end date for the Gazetteer?
How are the indexes to the Gazetteer arranged?
What does the evidence from the Gazetteer show?
How does the information in the Gazetteer relate to markets and fairs held today?
The different forms of the Gazetteer and future developments

It is recommended that all users begin by reading the following basic introduction. Together with the Abbreviations, this will provide sufficient information to use the Gazetteer. The Full Introduction is intended for users interested in a thorough account of the methods and sources used to compile the Gazetteer and in some preliminary findings.

What is the Gazetteer?
The Gazetteer is a catalogue of the markets and fairs in England and Wales between c.900 and 1516. The English section is arranged by county (as these were arranged on the eve of the 1974 county boundary changes) and then by place in alphabetical order. The Welsh section is arranged simply by place in alphabetical order.

Who will use the Gazetteer?
The Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England and Wales to 1516 is a major reference work which will become a primary research tool for historians, historical geographers, economists and archaeologists. It will also be of value to those interested in local studies.

The appeal of the Gazetteer will extend beyond those interested in the medieval period, as the markets and fairs established at this time formed the core of the network which survived into the sixteenth century and beyond.

What information does the Gazetteer provide?
The Gazetteer aims to provide systematic information regarding the establishment and operation of these markets and fairs. Every reference to a market (mercatum, forum) or fair (feria, nundinae) in the source material has been recorded. This includes both prescriptive markets and fairs (generally the oldest, which were held by established custom) and granted markets and fairs, which were usually held by virtue of a royal charter.

Standard information is provided for each place, including:

Wales and the 39 pre-1974 English counties are now online: the Index to these is available here.

How to read Gazetteer entries
Each entry in the Gazetteer follows the same basic layout:

PLACENAME 8-figure Ordnance Survey National Grid reference. If the place was a medieval borough or a mint in the Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Norman period, with first known date. Assessed value in 1334 Lay Subsidy. If place was a market town c.1600 (as noted by Alan Everitt). If there was a fair at the place in 1587, with its date (as recorded in Harrison). References to key works about the place (with sources).
M (market) (Type of market — either prescriptive (perhaps because borough or mint) or type of grant) day of week market held; date granted or recorded, grantor, grantee, any other information including regrants (source of information is given in parentheses).
F (fair) (Type of fair — either prescriptive or type of grant) days held — in the form of vfm+1 to represent the vigil, feast and morrow plus the following day, feast name (either feast date or Easter Dependent, if the feast was movable and was determined by the date of Easter); date granted or recorded, grantor, grantee, any other information including regrants (source of information is given in parentheses).
Any miscellaneous information on the markets/fairs.

Please note that not every category of information will be present for each entry. For example, at some places there will only be evidence of a market, or of a fair. The majority of places did not have burghal status, or a mint. Many places were not included in the 1334 lay subsidy, including, for example, the whole of Kent. Many others were not included in Alan Everitt's list of market towns c.1600 or in the list of fairs drawn up by William Harrison in 1587.

Some entries are longer than others, because there were more markets or fairs at that place, or because there is more evidence for those markets or fairs. Urban entries tend to be the longest.

a. Typical entry in the Gazetteer
A typical entry in the Gazetteer would be a place with one market and one fair which were granted by a royal charter, such as Queen Camel in Somerset:

QUEEN CAMEL 3597 1249. 1334 Subsidy 30.67. Market town c.1600 (Everitt, p. 471).
M (Charter) Mon; gr 12 Sept 1264, by K Hen III to John de Burgo. To be held at the manor (CChR, 1257–1300, p. 49). In 1275–6, it was alleged that the market raised by John de Burgo was damaging that at Somerton, Somerset (q.v.) and the borough of Ilchester, Somerset (q.v.) (RH, ii, p. 129).
F (Charter) vfm, Barnabas the Apostle (11 Jun); gr 12 Sept 1264, by K Hen III to John de Burgo To be held at the manor. (CChR, 1257–1300, p. 49).

This entry begins with standard information, which provides grid references for Queen Camel, its value in the 1334 lay subsidy and notes that Alan Everitt found evidence of a market there between c.1500 and 1640.

There is evidence for one medieval market at Queen Camel. The market was granted by charter and was to be held on Monday. The charter was dated 12 September 1264 and was granted by King Henry III to John de Burgo. The market was to be held at the manor of Queen Camel. In 1275–6, the market was allegedly damaging two other Somerset markets, at Somerton and Ilchester.

There is evidence for one medieval fair at Queen Camel. The fair was to be held on the vigil, feast and morrow of saint Barnabas the Apostle, whose feast falls on 11 June each year. The fair was also granted by charter and was to be held at the manor of Queen Camel.

b. Place with a Prescriptive Market
An example of a place with only a market, which was prescriptive, is Clifton, Derbyshire:

CLIFTON 4165 3448. 1334 Subsidy 35.25.
M (Prescriptive) mercatum, recorded 1222, held by Roger de Hilton, Roger Kide, Richard Cuble, Philip le Mercer and Richard Fabrum. They were alleged to have set up the market to the detriment of that at Ashbourne, Derbyshire (q.v.). The market was held in the vill (CRR, x, no. 283). The case continued in 1224 (CRR, xi, no. 36).

The entry begins with standard information, which provides grid references for Clifton and its value in the 1334 lay subsidy.

There is only evidence for one market, which was held by prescriptive right. It was described in the source as 'mercatum'. The earliest evidence for it dates from 1222, when it was held in the vill by by Roger de Hilton, Roger Kide, Richard Cuble, Philip le Mercer and Richard Fabrum. They were alleged to have set up the market to the detriment of a neighboring market at Ashbourne in Derbyshire. The legal case concerning these two markets was continuing in 1224.

c. Place which was a Borough, for which there is no information regarding the Market
An example of a place which was a borough, but for which there is no further information regarding the market is Wellington, Somerset:

WELLINGTON 3141 1209. Borough 1330 (BF, p. 159). 1334 Subsidy 21.50. Market town c.1600 (Everitt, p. 471).
M (Prescriptive: borough). No further information for the market.

This entry begins with the standard information, providing grid references to Wellington and evidence that it was a borough in 1330, with a reference to the source of information regarding the borough. The value of Wellington in the 1334 lay subsidy is given and the fact that Alan Everitt included it in his list of market towns c.1600.

No specific reference to a medieval market at Wellington has been found during the compilation of the Gazetteer. However, as Wellington was a borough, it has been assumed that it operated as a centre of trade and had a market. Therefore, a market has been noted at Wellington. It has been given as prescriptive as there is no evidence that a market was established here by a grant.

d. Place which had a Market and a Fair granted by Letter Close
An example of a place which had a market and a fair granted by letter close is Horsley, Derbyshire:

HORSLEY 4375 3445. 1334 Subsidy 17.75.
M (Letter Close) Thurs; mercatum, gr 8 Sept 1267, by K Hen III. To be held at the royal manor. Mandate to the sh of Derbyshire to make the market known and cause it to be held (CR, 1264–8, p. 335).
F (Letter Close) vfm, Peter ad Vincula (1 Aug); feria, gr 8 Sept 1267, by K Hen III. To be held at the royal manor. Mandate to the sh of Derbyshire to make the fair known and cause it to be held (CR, 1264–8, p. 335).

This entry begins with the standard information, providing grid references to Horsley and its assessed value in the 1334 lay subsidy.

The market at Horsley was granted by a letter close, in which it was described as a mercatum. It was to be held on Thursday and was granted on 8 September 1267, by King Henry III. The fact that it was to be held on the royal manor explains why there is no grantee: the market was for Henry himself. An order was sent to the sheriff of Derbyshire to publicise the market and to cause it to be held. The fair at Horsley was set up by the same letter close, with the same instructions to the sheriff. It was to be held on the vigil, feast and morrow of St Peter ad vincula; the feast falls on 1 August every year. The fair was described as feria.

What are the preliminary results from the Gazetteer?
The Gazetteer contains more information than even the most comprehensive county studies for England; there is no comparable study for Wales. The totals for England are 2,252 places that had market and/or a fair; 2,464 markets and nearly 2,767 fairs. The totals for Wales are 141 places that had a market and/or a fair; 138 markets and 166 fairs. See the Full Introduction for initial findings.

What was a market? What was a fair?
Markets and fairs are trading institutions held at regular intervals. In medieval England and Wales, a market was held once a week, on a set day and in a set place.

A fair was held annually, on a set date, normally associated with the feast of a particular saint. A fair might last only a single day or over a number of days, ranging from two or three days to a week or more. The fair was held in a set place.

What is the evidence for markets and fairs?
Markets and fairs were identified through specific mention in the source material: of forum or mercatum for a market, or of nundinae or feria for a fair. Every reference to a market or fair in the source material was recorded. Other evidence of trade, such as wakes, was not recorded.

a. Granted Markets and fairs.
A large number of markets and fairs were established by a grant, most often in the form of a charter granted by the King. Kings occasionally also granted markets and fairs by two other forms: letters close and letters patent. There is evidence for grants of markets and fairs by charter from the time of the Norman Conquest (1066) onwards. However, the vast majority of grants by charter date from 1199 onwards. Grants of markets and fairs by letter close and letter patent also begin c.1200.

Almost all royal grants gave detailed and specific information, naming:

A typical charter granted one market and one fair at the same place, to be held by one grantee and his successors.

Although royal charters granted the right to hold a market or fair, this did not necessarily mean that the market or fair was ever established. From 1200 onwards, royal charters were conditional, granting the right to hold a market or fair only if this was not detrimental to neighbouring markets or fairs. The concern was that the existing pattern of trade should not be damaged. If neighbouring institutions could successfully prove such damage, the new market or fair would not be set up. It is therefore necessary to find more evidence in order to establish whether a specific market or fair was actually established.

b. Prescriptive Markets and Fairs.
There are many references in the sources to markets and fairs which do not appear to have been set up by a grant. These markets and fairs are described as prescriptive, that is, they were held by custom. Many of the oldest and most successful markets and fairs were held by prescriptive right. These were often in urban centres. The problem with identifying prescriptive markets and fairs is the lack evidence. The first mention of a prescriptive market or fair often dates from the thirteenth century, when a wide range of detailed sources are available. However, it is not clear how long the market or fair has been operating: was it set up in the thirteenth century, or had it been trading for longer?

A good example is the market at Maldon, Essex, which is first mentioned in 1287. When first recorded, trading was taking place at the market and there is no evidence that it was set up by a grant: it is, therefore, a prescriptive market. How long had trading been taking place at Maldon? Maldon is known to have been a borough from 916 and to have had a mint between 924–39 and the 970s–1100. It seems very likely that a place which was a borough and/or which had a mint, operated as a centre of local trade and had a market. This assumption has been used to identify Anglo-Saxon and Norman prescriptive markets in the Gazetteer. The earliest date for a market at Maldon would therefore be 916. As at Maldon, it seems very likely that the prescriptive markets which first appear in the records in the thirteenth century had already been trading for several centuries.

If no specific reference to a market (forum, mercatum) has been found at a place which had a mint in the Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Norman periods, or which was a borough in the middle ages, a market has been recorded there by virtue of the borough or mint. It has been recorded as Prescriptive—Borough, or Prescriptive—Mint, as necessary. A note under the market records ‘No further information for the market’.

e.g. 1. Berden, Essex, which was a borough in 1369. Although no specific mention of a market at Berden has been found during the compilation of the Gazetteer, because of the presence of the borough, a market has been recorded there. This is shown by its code, Prescriptive—Borough. The note ‘no further information for the market’ serves to remind the user why this market has been included in the Gazetteer.

e.g. 2. Droitwich, Worcestershire, which had a mint in 1042–1066 and was a borough in 1086. Although no specific mention of a market at Droitwich has been found during the compilation of the Gazetteer, because of the presence of the mint and the borough, a market has been recorded there. This is shown by its code, Prescriptive—Borough and Mint, and by the note ‘no further information for the market’.

This situation occurs in relatively few places in the Gazetteer.

Why are some entries longer than others?
The length of the entries reflects the amount of evidence found in the sources which offered systematic coverage for England and which were likely to record the majority of the grants of markets and of fairs. On occasion, however, other sources were used which provided more detail about the markets and fairs at a particular place; for example, a case study of an individual town. In addition, knowledge of a few places allowed a more detailed and complex entry to be written; for example, Professor Derek Keene’s knowledge of Winchester, Hampshire. The respective length of individual entries in the Gazetteer does not reflect the importance of the place, or of its markets or fairs.

In what ways is the Welsh section different from the English section?

a. Arrangement
The Welsh Gazetteer is organised by place, in alphabetical order. Welsh counties have not been included as these were only established in 1536, whereas the end date for the Gazetteer is 1516.

b. Sources used to compile the Welsh Gazetteer
The primary sources used for the English Gazetteer provided more information regarding Welsh markets and fairs than was expected. In particular, the Calendar of Charter Rolls, the Calendar of Close Rolls and the Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem were useful. In addition, a number of primary sources relating to Wales were used which contained very helpful information. These included J. Barrow ed., (Cardiff, 1998); R.F. Isaacson ed., The Episcopal Registers of the Diocese of St David’s, 1397 to 1518 (London, 1917–20); M. Rhys ed., Ministers’ Accounts for West Wales, 1277–1306, I (London, 1936) and W. Rees, ed., Calendar of Ancient Petitions Relating to Wales (Cardiff, 1975).

These primary sources were supplemented by evidence from secondary sources, principally: I. Soulsby, The Towns of Medieval Wales (1983) and R.A. Griffiths ed., Boroughs of Medieval Wales (1978). These two general urban surveys are the most important work that has been carrie dout into Welsh markets and fairs. Other secondary sources used were R.A. Griffiths, ‘The medieval boroughs of Glamorgan and medieval Swansea’, in T.B. Pugh ed., iii (Cardiff, 1971) and R.A. Griffiths, ‘A tale of two towns: Llandeilo and Fawr and Dinefwr in the Middle Ages’, in R.A. Griffiths, Conquerors and Conquered in Medieval Wales (Stroud, 1994).

c. Amount and scope of evidence available
Despite this, there is much less information available for Welsh markets and fairs than for their English counterparts. The Welsh evidence is concentrated in the twelfth to fourteenth centuries and much of it dates from the conquest by King Edward I and its immediate aftermath.

d. Grid References
The grid references for each place in the Welsh Gazetteer were obtained by reference to Ordnance Survey Landranger maps (scale 1:50,000).

e. Place-names
Place-names in the Welsh Gazetteer appear as they are given on Ordnance Survey Landranger maps. Both the spelling of the place-name and its form on the Landranger map has been followed e.g. Carmarthen is recorded on the Landranger map as Carmarthen/Caefyrddin and it therefore apears in the same way in the Gazetteer. Where two versions of a place-name are given, they are cross-referenced in the place-name index of the Gazetteer.

How are the different types of markets and fairs described in the Gazetteer?
All markets and fairs in the Gazetteer are described as follows, to reflect whether they are prescriptive or granted:

a. Marketsb. Fairs
Prescriptive (P)Prescriptive (P)
Prescriptive: Borough (PB)
Prescriptive: Mint (PM)
Grant: Charter (GC)Grant: Charter (GC)
Grant: Letter Close (GL)Grant: Letter Close (GL)
Grant: Letter Patent (GP)Grant: Letter Patent (GP)
Grant: Other (GO)Grant: Other (GO)
Formerly Prescriptive (FP)Formerly Prescriptive (FP)

All markets and fairs were treated as prescriptive unless evidence of a grant was found.

Occasionally, an individual or institution claimed that a charter had been granted to them, but the document could not be produced. When the claim could not be verified either by contemporaries or during the compilation of the Gazetteer, the market or fair concerned has been treated as Prescriptive. However, when the claim was accepted by contemporary officials, the markets or fair concerned has been entered in the Gazetteer as Grant Other; see for example Great Wakering, Essex. The Grant Other code also has been used for markets and fairs which arise from a fine (e.g. on the Pipe roll) for which there is no surviving charter, letter close or patent.

In a few cases, a prescriptive market or fair was later formalised in a charter; these are described as Formerly Prescriptive.

What sources were used to compile the Gazetteer?
There is a wide range of evidence available for the study of medieval markets and fairs. It was not possible to cover all of these sources in the timescale of the project. Therefore, we concentrated on those sources which provided the most information about markets and fairs and also provided national coverage.

a. Primary Sources
The Gazetteer has been compiled mainly from printed primary sources, almost all of which were the records of the royal administration. The principle source is the Calendar of Charter Rolls (1227–1516), which provides evidence for most of the grants made across the period. Other evidence was collected from Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum, the printed Pipe Rolls, Recueil des Actes de Henri II, Curia Regis Rolls, Placitorum Abbreviatio, Rotuli Chartarum, Rotuli Litterarum Clausarum, Rotuli Litterarum Patentium, Roles Gascons and the Calendar of Close Rolls. All of these sources were worked through systematically and every reference to a market or fair noted. In several of these cases, markets and fairs were identified by reading through the source page by page, rather than relying on inadequate indexes.

Additional printed primary sources were also used, which it was not possible to search comprehensively for all references to markets and fairs. These were the Calendar of Patent Rolls, the Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, the Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous, Placita de Quo Warranto, the Cartae Antiquae and the Hundred Rolls. Due to constraints of time and the difficulties presented by inadequate indexing, it was not possible to utilise these sources systematically.

b. Secondary Sources
Some additional evidence relating to markets and fairs, as well as the standard information for each place, was taken from secondary sources.

i. Boroughs
It was necessary to utilise secondary sources for information regarding medieval boroughs. The main source was M.W. Beresford and H.R.P. Finberg, English medieval boroughs: a handlist (Newton Abbot, 1973), with the supplement in Urban History Yearbook (1981). Additional evidence for the boroughs in the burghal hidage was taken from D. Hill, Atlas of Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford, 1981) and from D. Hill and A.R. Rumble ed., The Defence of Wessex: the Burghal Hidage and Anglo-Saxon fortifications (Manchester University Press, 1996); evidence for boroughs and markets in 1086 was taken from H.C. Darby, Domesday England (Cambridge, 1977).

Other information has been selected from M. Beresford, New Towns of the Middle Ages (1967).

ii. Mints
Information regarding Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman mints was taken from C. Challis, A New History of Royal Mint (Cambridge, 1992), table 2. This was subsequently amended with information taken from D.M. Metcalf, An Atlas of Anglo-Saxon and Norman Coin Finds, c.973–1086 (London, 1998) and D. Hill, Atlas of Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford, 1981).

iii. 1334 Lay Subsidy
In order to offer a basic indicator of the relative wealth and size of the places in the English Gazetteer, the value of those assessed in the lay subsidy of 1334 was included. Many of these values were taken from a database recently compiled under the supervision of Professor Bruce Campbell of the Queen’s University, Belfast. For a large number of places, it was also necessary to check this with the information given in R.E. Glasscock ed., The Lay Subsidy of 1334 (London, 1975).

Many places were assessed jointly in the 1334 lay subsidy and it is often impossible to give a precise value for a specific place. A note of this has been included in the Gazetteer where relevant.

Users are reminded that many places in the Gazetteer were not included in the 1334 Lay Subsidy; notable omissions include the whole of Cheshire, Cumberland, Durham, Northumberland, and Westmorland. Assessments were not provided for individual places in Kent. Figures for Cumberland, Northumberland and Westmorland are provided from the 1336 taxation.

iv. Grid References
An eight figure grid reference has been given for each place in the Gazetteer. Many of the grid references for England were taken from Professor Campbell’s database, as above. However, there were many other places for which the grid references were obtained by reference to Ordinance Survey maps, including all of the Welsh entries.

v. Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Markets and Fairs
Secondary sources were also utilised to provide information regarding the survival of medieval markets and fairs into the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Particularly important for markets was the list of markets functioning c.1500 to 1640, drawn up by Alan Everitt in the Agrarian History of England and Wales iv. Similar evidence was taken from the list of fairs compiled in 1587 by William Harrison, which he published in The Description of England. By adding the information in these lists to the Gazetteer, it is possible to analyse which medieval markets and fairs survived into the Tudor period and beyond and which failed.

All of the above sources were utilised systematically.

vi. Victoria County History of England
The Victoria County History (VCH) was an important secondary source used in the compilation of the Gazetteer. Many of the volumes utilised, particularly those produced most recently, have provided valuable information. However, the VCH could not be utilised systematically, as both coverage and detail across counties varies widely. Those volumes completed early in the twentieth century often have inadequate indexes and contain a limited amount of information useful to this project.

Existing VCH volumes for the following counties were used comprehensively: Bedford, Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Durham, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Yorkshire (East Riding) and Yorkshire (North Riding).

Some information was taken from the VCH for the following counties: Buckinghamshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, Cumberland, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Essex, Herefordshire, Huntingdonshire, Kent, Lancashire, Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex.

vii. Published and unpublished county lists
Lists of markets and fairs have been compiled for individual counties, both published and unpublished. These vary widely in range and content. They were used as a check against the completed county lists generated by the Gazetteer.

Obviously, there is a great deal more information on medieval markets and fairs to be found in miscellaneous and unpublished sources. It is intended that this material be incorporated into the Gazetteer as it comes to light in the future.

Note on Dating
It is often impossible to give a precise date for an event or source from the medieval period: in such cases, dates can often only be given as a range of years. Thus, ‘fair recorded in 1125x35’ means that there is evidence for the fair which cannot be dated more precisely than the period between 1125 and 1135.

How are individuals mentioned in the Gazetteer identified?
The personal names, titles and descriptions of individuals given in the Gazetteer are the same as those given in the sources used. Titles and descriptions were entered as given in the document e.g. earl of X; clerk; wife of Y.

Variant spellings and also the many ways some individuals, particularly those from the nobility, were described.

e.g. Richard, earl of Cornwall (d. 1272). The younger brother of King Henry III, Richard was count of Poitou from 1225 to 1243, earl of Cornwall from 1227 and was elected King of the Romans in 1257. In the sources, he is various described as ‘the King’s brother’, ‘Earl Richard’, ‘the Earl of Cornwall’, ‘the King of Almain’ etc. In the text of the Gazetteer, people are described as they are given in the source; there has not been time to identify anyone fully - so if a grant was made to ‘the King of Almain’, that is the description given. The identification will have to be given in the index, so that under ‘Almain, king of’ there were a reference to ‘Cornwall, earl of, Richard’.

Therefore, it will be necessary to consult the index in order to identify the person or institution. Both the personal and institutional indexes will be online in 2002.

Religious Institutions
The description of a religious institution were maintained as it is given in the document. The form of the original grant were preserved e.g. to the Abbot and convent (A and C), or to the Abbot (A), or to the monks (M).

Heirs and Successors
Nearly all grants were hereditary, that is they were made to the grantee and his heirs, or to the grantees and their heirs, or to an ecclesiastical grantee and his or its successors. Hereditability of grants has therefore been taken as the norm in the Gazetteer and all grants should be assumed to be to the heirs and successors of the grantee, unless otherwise stated. Details of exceptions have been clearly noted, including life grants and specifications regarding the inheritance of the market or fair (e.g. a market might have been granted to a man and his wife, but its inheritance limited to the heirs of the wife).

Dates of Fairs
The date of a fair was usually expressed as the date of a particular saint’s feast. For example, in 1226, Brian de Insula was granted a fair at Saleby, Lincolnshire, to be held on the feast of Margaret; the feast is celebrated on 20 July.

Many fairs were held over several consecutive days. They were still defined in terms of one particular saint’s feast, perhaps beginning the day before the feast (known as the vigil or the eve) or lasting until the day after the feast (known as the morrow). For example, in 1221 Hugh Despenser was granted a fair at Loughborough, Leicestershire, to be held on the vigil and feast of Peter ad Vincula. The feast of Peter ad Vincula is celebrated on 1 August, and so the fair began on 31 July and carried on until the next day. Many fairs were granted which lasted three days, typically on the vigil, feast and morrow of a particular saint’s day.

In the later medieval period, a small number of grants expressed the date of fairs as an actual calendar date.

The Gazetteer records the details of the date and duration each fair as it is given in the source. The saint’s day is recorded, along with the modern calendar date. The duration of the fair is kept in the form in which it was given, although it has been abbreviated:

Why is the Gazetteer important?
The network of legally-established markets and fairs in medieval England was dense and highly developed. It is possible to study the development of these markets and fairs much earlier than elsewhere in Western Europe. However, despite the importance of English markets and fairs, until now a comprehensive national survey has not been available. Work has been focused on individual county studies, which vary widely in content and quality. There are significant differences between the Gazetteer and these studies, as the Gazetteer:

  1. has utilised more sources than any other study.
  2. covers a longer chronological period than most county studies, which tend to focus on the period between 1199 and 1349.
  3. provides information for both markets and fairs, whereas a significant proportion of county studies deal solely with markets.
  4. includes both markets and fairs held by prescriptive right and those established by a grant, generally a royal charter. Some county studies concentrate on the markets and fairs which were established by royal grant and are largely based on the evidence from the Calendar of Charter rolls. Frequently they omit markets and fairs on the royal demesne, which were commonly recorded in royal orders.
  5. attempts to determine which markets and fairs actually functioned and how long each survived.

Why was 1516 chosen as the end date for the Gazetteer?
Between 1517 and 1536, grants of markets and fairs were made by letter patent and are recorded in the Calendar of Letters and Papers, Henry VIII. As there is no adequate index to these volumes, it has not been possible to incorporate them into the project. As a result of this problem, it was necessary to bring the end date of the Gazetteer forward from 1540 to 1516.

How are the indexes to the Gazetteer arranged?
At present, only the index operational is that of the places recorded in the counties online.

In the near future, indexes of the people and institutions recorded in the Gazetteer will also be available. They will list each individual or institution mentioned in the Gazetteer, and the location(s) and county or counties where they were recorded.

What does the evidence from the Gazetteer show?
Preliminary analysis of the material has confirmed the hypotheses suggested in previous county studies that the number of markets and fairs granted in the thirteenth century rose steadily. The numbers granted declined after the mid fourteenth century and remained low throughout the fifteenth century. Evidence from the Gazetteer indicates that the overall increase in grants during the thirteenth century was punctuated by a number of years in which an exceptionally large number of charters were issued.

In November 2000, Dr Samantha Letters began a three-year project, ‘Markets and Fairs in Thirteenth Century England’, based at the Centre for Metropolitan History and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (Award No. R000239108). Utilising the data from the Gazetteer, this will look at the chronological and spatial development of markets and fairs through the medieval period, with particular reference to the thirteenth century, when there was a great increase in the number of grants made. The project will examine the reasons for this increase, taking account of political and institutional factors as well as the economic ones which have dominated discussion in the past. Why these rights were granted, whether the markets and fairs were successful and how they were managed as part of a portfolio of lordly resources are central topics

How does the information in the Gazetteer relate to markets and fairs held today?
The information in the Gazetteer has NO bearing on markets and fairs held the present day. The rights to hold markets and fairs catalogued in this Gazetteer have been altered substantially in the subsequent centuries, by changes in land-holding (for example, following the dissolution of the monasteries in the mid-sixteenth century) and by the re-organisation of county boundaries and of local government.

We are unable to offer advice on the legality of modern markets or fairs.

The different forms of the Gazetteer and future developments
The Gazetteer was compiled as an electronic textbase using Idealist. This has been reformatted to produce two versions of the Gazetteer, of which the online is the first available. The online will be updated as further information on markets and fairs comes to hand. The second version of the Gazetteer will be published as a book in 2002. An introduction will discuss the sources and methods employed and explain how to use the text and its relationship to the databases. It will also contain a short historical discussion of the development of markets and fairs in England and Wales, drawing on some simple analyses of the data and illustrated by maps.

Although the systematic collection of evidence for the Gazetteer stops in 1516, it will also be of interest for those studying later periods. It appears that the earlier a market or fair was established, the greater its chances of survival through the medieval period, into the sixteenth century and beyond. Markets and fairs founded by about 1250 had the opportunity to occupy the best spaces in the network. They therefore had the greatest chance of surviving the great changes in population and in economic life which occurred from 1348 onwards. The network of markets and fairs which existed in the early sixteenth century was virtually the same as that which existed in the mid thirteenth century.

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