Harborough has officially had a market since 1203 when the King granted the town a royal charter.
On market day the town was swamped with stalls and animals tethered and penned along the streets. Cattle gathered near today’s Angel Hotel many chained to posts still standing on the High Street.
More than 2000 beasts roaming the streets disrupted daily life considerably! Pedestrians were in danger of being trampled and piles of dung covered the town! The market ultimately moved to a site off Springfield Street as a result of public health concerns.
On April 14th, 1903, the new cattle market was opened, and this silver key was presented to J. L. Douglass Esq. (Chairman, Market Harborough Urban District Council). It’s currently displayed in the museum’s ‘Introduction to the Town’ case.
The Settling Rooms are the only remaining part of the market. This building where farmers once settled their accounts with the market authorities, socialised and got refreshments, is now listed, and stands resplendent in the centre of Sainsbury’s car park!