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Markets and Trade

026 Fair sheep salesApart from the fairs, a regular market was held in Bridgwater, initially on a Saturday until around 1600, and then latterly on a Wednesday.  In St.Mary Street there was a Cheese Cross where cheeses were sold.   In 1857 an Act of Parliament rearranged the days of the town’s markets and fairs as follows:  the market on Wednesday instead of Thursday; St Matthew’s Fair the last Wednesday in September; Cock-hill Fair, last Wednesday in January; Lent fair, last Wednesday in March; Midsummer Fair, last Wednesday in June.

Fish, fowl, fruit and vegetables were sold in the Cornhill area.  There were two market crosses in Bridgwater and one of these, known as the High Cross, was at the Cornhill in a position which would now place it in the middle of the road between the dome and the Lloyd’s TSB bank premises. It was octagonal in shape.  The cross was used for the sale of various items but especially fish.  In 1694, a water tank was added to the roof to hold water for the town centre community.  It was finally pulled down in 1827, having also served as a gallows at the time of the Monmouth Rebellion. It carried an interesting motto of “Mind your own business”.

016 Monmouth Street horse salesThe other cross was the Pig Cross, a simple shaft with an orb atop, a replica of which can now be found at the Town Bridge end of Fore Street. The Pig Cross was at Penel Orlieu, where cattle and pigs were sold, sheep being sold in West Street, and was destroyed in 1830.  It is believed that ‘Pig’ is not derived from the animal but rather from ‘Pigens’, an ancient manor which existed in the town.


Text Copyright © 2008 Roger Evans

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