The Market Place

 A market has been held here since at least the charter of 1219 when the market day was changed from Sunday to Tuesday, which it has remained ever since. As this grew in importance it gave East Rasen (or Little Rasen) its name Market Rasen.

The Market Place, around 1911

The Market Place, around 1911

Originally the market place was bigger and the George Inn faced on to Market Place but in the early 1800’s the buildings on the east side were built. Much to the annoyance of modern day bus and lorry drivers trying to turn from George St to Queen St and to the amusement of the watching town folk.

Imagine on a Tuesday when people, who had been brought in by carriers from town and villages from all around, would fill the Market Place here to buy what they need and sell what they had produced (which continues until this day when any small item can be sold by auction at the market each Tuesday). When all this commerce was finished people could relax in one of the inns around the square or until 1849 amuse themselves by abusing whoever might be in the stocks that day

Or maybe it is the Tuesday of the fortnightly Market for horned cattle and horses which ran from Palm Sunday to Michaelmas (29th Sept) when the town would be full of live stock causing much noise and dirt, until the livestock market was moved to Willingham Rd in around 1877.

All in costume and on 'Boneshakers'

All in costume and on ‘Boneshakers’

Then there were the fairs. The original fairs were held on 3rd May (which dated from 1223) and 25th September. Later on the statute or hiring fair was at the beginning of May when the Market Place would be full of agricultural workers and servants, who by tradition were only hired for one year, looking for employment and along with them the farmers & others who were looking to hire labourers and servants for the next year. This was the fair for single men and girls, married men having been hired in February. The prospective workers would show what their line of work was by carrying their trade mark tools i.e. a house maid would have a bucket and mop, a field hand a sheaf of corn in his hat. Some years there was disagreement on what a fair wage was as the Market Rasen Weekly Mail reports 28th May 1859,’ in Consequence of high wages asked many remained unhired until Tuesday last on which a great many attended the market in search of employment and were willing to take fair remuneration, the majority obtained situations’. Once their prospects for the next year were settled all these people would enjoy themselves watching Punch & Judy shows, shying coconuts and cock fighting (in the early years) or by having confetti battles which were a feature of the fair, on their one free day a year before leaving with their new masters. This often caused much disruption and many disturbances in the town

From 1800 to 1888 at the end of September in the week following the Annual livestock fair a week of festivities was organised by the local innkeepers and Friendly Societies (these would, for a modest payment each week, provide for members at such times of need as sickness, lying in & funeral expenses) and from this the races for which Market Rasen is famous grew.

All together, in the square, for the Coronation 1953

All together, in the square, for the Coronation 1953


In 1876 according to the Stamford Mercury the festivities began on Monday with the annual horse races, the traditional day for them. On Tuesday a day of sports was held in the Market Place where Boxing matches, wheelbarrow races, climbing a greasy pole (for the prize of a leg of mutton) along with foot races were held & a band played late into the evening. Wednesday saw a cricket match, in the evening balls and musical gatherings were held throughout the town. In later years Swing Boats and Merry Go Rounds would be all the rage. Although a ride on the Swing Boats could have unforeseen consequences as Mr Charles Chapman, a well known Osgodby tractor driver found out one year.

Mr and Mrs Chapman went to the fair with a party of friends. The swing boats being one of the chief attractions Mr and Mrs Chapman thought they would have a go. They were already swinging through the air nicely when Mrs Chapman shouted across to her husband: “Can’t you go any higher, Charlie?”

He opened his mouth to reply as his boat was rushing downward and before he could speak his upper denture flew out on to an iron grill covering steps leading down to a market place basement ending up in the cellar.

The friends looked down into the blackness of the cellar without being able to see the missing dentures and a policeman on duty in the market place lent his night light. But, even with the aid of this, the denture could not be reached.

Eventually, when Mr Chapman got down into the cellar, he discovered that his dental plate had been fractured by the fall and was in two pieces.

When Mr Chapman went to see his dentist he learned that he was just going away on holiday. He was therefore without his upper plate for a fortnight.

Mr Chapman remarked philosophically: “This shows that wives do sometimes say things at the wrong moment.”

People would then return to the Market Place on Guy Fawkes Day to see fireworks and an effigy burnt and again at Christmas when a tree would be erected

For 800Years The Market Place in Market Rasen has been a place of commerce & play for the people from Market Rasen & the area around it. It has been a place to buy & sell: a meeting place & a place to celebrate the major occasions of this country. It has brought prosperity & life to this town. Since 2012 thru the efforts of the Portas Pilot and other schemes a new monthly market has been held revitalising this old Market Place. The Market Place remains in private hands.

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King George V ‘s Coronation 22nd June 1911

How Market Rasen celebrated was reported in the Market Rasen Mail 24 th June 1911

10 am
All children under 16 years were given a commemorative medal in the Market Place

11 am
Each Church/Chapel had a service, after which the congregations meet at the Market Place to sing the national anthem.
Bells were ring thorough the day .

1.30 pm
General assembly in the Market Place, where Mr Starbuck took this photograph.
Then a long procession went along Queen Street, Willingham Road, Serpentine Street, Oxford Street, Kinwell Street, Dear Street, King Street back to the Market Place.

UDC, Veterans, Boy Scouts, Town Band, Fire Brigade, several friendly societies, Sunday school, decorated bicycles, Salvation Army band, Tradesmen’s turn-outs, and children with banners

Afterwards there was – the judging of the decorated bicycles and Tradesmen’s turn-outs

Then everyone went for tea….1,100 people.
600 children and families went to schools, Assembly Room, White Hart and

500 adults went to Town Hall and Liberal Institute

Sports at de Aston football field, followed by music and dancing and a singing contest.

The Town was decorated with flags, flowers, bunting, fairy lights and Gas Designs