The market towns of England have always played an important role in the history of England and continue to do so today. Traditionally, market towns were the epicentre of the region’s trade, a place where farmers would sell their produce and locals would visit to stock up on provisions. They were essential to rural life. Bigger than a village but smaller than a city, they played the vital role in supporting communities in local regions. Many of the towns have fought hard to avoid development and retain their authentic charm. Here are some of the best examples to visit around the country:
- Sherborne, Dorset
Located in the county of Dorset, this is Thomas Hardy country and Sherborne sits on the River Yeo in stunning countryside. It’s an attractive town and home of Sherborne Abbey. The colour of the local buildings is a distinctive hue, produced by using local stone in an ochre colour. It is the ideal base for exploring all the West Country has to offer and sits close to the border with Somerset.
- Ashbourne, Derbyshire
Locating in the Peak District, this is the land of Pride and Prejudice and Ashbourne is the perfect location for exploring this historic and beautiful landscape. A great event that takes place in this market town is the Shrovetide football match between the north and south of the town. The match lasts for 2 days and the teams are massive, with the goals being set up 3 miles apart. Not many goals are scored but it’s a huge amount of fun and any scorers are carried to the pub to celebrate.
- Market Harborough, Leicestershire
Steeped in history, this market town is now a popular shopping destination. With tons of natural beauty, a great community spirit and good proximity to the capital, it has been voted in the top ten of desirable places to live in England. What are you waiting for? For more information on Things to do in Market Harborough, visit http://www.marketharborough.com/
- Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire
This Gloucestershire gem is the ideal, quintessential Cotswold town. It enjoys a great position with good road and rail connections to the capital and the rest of the country. The Cotswolds is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the UK, with its Cotswold stone cottages, rolling hills and countless picture-postcard villages. Moreton in Marsh is the ideal base for exploring the area.
- Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
A town located on the Thames between Oxford and London, it is a stunning example of a market town and iconic for its rowing. It is the home of the famous Henley Regatta, a prestigious society event that lasts a week and is ‘the’ place to be seen. Think champagne and strawberries, long summer dresses and men in straw boaters and light suits.
- Alnwick, Northumberland
This county borders Scotland and is an example of some beautifully rugged scenery. It has a turbulent history of conflict between an English family named Percy and the Scots, where many battles and conflicts took place. You’ll also discover Alnwick Castle here, which dominates the skyline and was the ancestral home of the Percy family, the Dukes of Northumberland. Its rugged beauty has attracted movie makers, with many scenes from Harry Potter having been filmed here.