Hawkesbury Upton’s Market & Fair

Following an inquiry made by the Mayor and Bailiffs of Bristol to ascertain whether it would be to the hurt of the “vill” of Bristol if a weekly market and annual fair were to be held at Hawkesbury, a royal grant is made to the abbot and convent of Pershore of a weekly market on Mondays, and a yearly fair on the vigil, feast, and morrow of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (29th August) to be held at Upton.

Grant of the market at Hawkesbury Upton

Grant of the market at Hawkesbury Upton, as recorded in the Cartulary of Pershore Abbey. Note the rubricated heading, and that above the underlined word ‘Upton’, a later hand has written ‘Hawkesbury’

Rev. Devereux Mack, observes that: “this fair, first held in 1253, continued to be held at (Hawkesbury) Upton until comparatively recent times. The village fair was a scene of great activity, and the older inhabitants recall horses being trotted up and down the streets to show off their paces, and the farm servants, bearing the appropriate wisp of straw or other token of their particular occupation, waiting to be hired and receiving the “earnest money” as a sign that they had been engaged by their new employer. With the advent of the fortnightly auction the local fair died out and it gave way to a very flourishing Horticultural Show, which is held on the last Saturday of August each year.”

The burgage plot arrangement

The most likely location of Hawkesbury Upton’s original market is the area around the plain. Grants to hold markets at around this time usually led to the development by the lord of the manor of burgage plots nearby, with houses, workshops, etc. to encourage tradesmen and merchants to settle. The map above, although based on a much later layout, still shows the burgage plot arrangement.

The grant to hold a market at Hawkesbury Upton may not have raised concerns from Bristol, but the Shropshire eyre of 1256 heard a later objection:

The abbot of Pershore is summoned to answer Matthew de Bezil why he set up a market at Hawkesbury to the nuisance of Matthew’s market at Sherston. Matthew complains through his attorney that, whereas he had a market in Sherston every Tuesday, obtained by the grant and charter of the King earlier than the abbot’s market at Hawkesbury, the abbot set up that completely new market in Hawkesbury on Mondays, so that the goods which should and are accustomed to be sold in his market at Sherston are now sold at the abbot’s market, and the tolls and stall-dues and other customary payments which should be and are accustomed to be paid on the goods bought in his market at Sherston are now paid and levied in the abbot’s market, so he is injured and has damage to the amount of 40 pounds.

Hawkesbury’s market grant

Hawkesbury’s market grant. This copy was made in August 1973 by Colonel Street’s daughter of Hawkesbury Common, and translated from the Latin by Mr Isaac of Hillesley. Calligraphy is by Marina Pirt of Wotton-under-Edge. Note: the month shown is incorrect, and should be August.

The Abbot, through his attorney, denies tort and force and that his market in Hawkesbury was set up to the nuisance of Matthew’s market in Sherston, for his Monday market in Hawkesbury precedes Matthew’s Tuesday market in Sherston, and the merchants who bring their goods to his Hawkesbury market are therefore readier to attend Matthew’s Sherston market and sell there the goods they bought in his, the abbot’s market; so it was rather to the convenience and advantage of Matthew’s market at Sherston than to its harm that his market at Hawkesbury was established.

He calls the county to witness to this, and so does Matthew on his side, Matthew offering the King 1 mark for the inquest. Since the Hawkesbury market is in Gloucestershire and the Sherston market in Wiltshire, the sheriff of Gloucestershire is ordered to have eight (witnesses) at Chipping Campden when Simon of Walton (one of the itinerant judges) arrives there and the sheriff of Wiltshire another eight to find whether the abbot’s market was established to the harm of Matthew’s, and if so, to what harm. The case is adjourned by agreement.

Afterwards, on the Sunday after the Purification, the jurors at Chipping Campden swear that the abbot’s market was established to the nuisance of Matthew’s, for all the abbot’s men from his manor of Hawkesbury buy and sell all their corn, meat and other things, and carry on all their business, in the Hawkesbury market, and completely avoid the Sherston market where they were accustomed to buy and sell.

Market stalls at Sherston, 2007

Market stalls at Sherston, Boules Day, 14th July, 2007

They swear further that the corn-merchants who used to buy corn at Sherston to carry to Bristol now buy at Hawkesbury, because it is nearer; and the abbot’s market is to the nuisance of the Sherston market for another reason, namely that the manor of Hawkesbury is only three leagues distant from the market of Sherston.

A day is set at Westminster at the quindene of Easter for hearing judgement.

The damages are assessed at 4 shillings.