Stow on the Wold Gloucestershire England
Click for more information
Stow-on-the-Wold sits atop a hill in the county of Gloucestershire, at the meeting point of several roads including the ancient Roman Road, the Fosse Way. For centuries, trading was a haphazard business of barter where the townsfolk of Stow relied on passing traders. | In 1107 the right to hold a weekly market on Thursdays in Stow was granted by King Henry I to Evesham Abbey, owners of nearby Maugersbury Manor. | In the following centuries, the right to hold fairs was established and traders could set up stalls in the space that is now the Market Square. These fairs grew in importance and became so widely-known that traders came from abroad as well distant parts of Britain to sell their wares, which now included luxury goods as well the necessities of life, and in return to buy the high-quality wool from the local flocks. |It is said that in the 17th Century 20,000 sheep were sold during a single day, and indeed the narrow roads leading from the market square were intentionally built narrow and winding as a way to control and count the sheep. | A visit to the Market Square on most days in the 21st Century however could be mistaken for a visit to a large car park, or indeed a coach park, with Stow being a popular attraction for visitors to the Cotswolds. | Pay a visit on the second Thursday of each month, however, and you will find a Farmer’s Market at the edge of Stocks Green, and both charity stalls and Morris Dancers use Stocks Green on many weekends from spring to autumn. | The market boasts a fine range of produce from the local area, including farmhouse cheeses, trout from nearby lakes, freshly harvested vegetables , wines, apple juices and ciders, free range eggs, bread and pastries, and a range of locally reared meats. There are usually around 15 to 20 stalls at this popular monthly market. | The ancient fairs also continue to this day, although the nature of trade has changed considerably. With the decline in the wool trade, trade in horses grew to take its place, and with the coming of shops that were open all the year, trading in and stockpiling of day-to-day necessities has fallen. However, the itinerant nature of trading has carried on with the Romanies coming in increasing numbers. For them, the two dates remain as the most important social events of the year as well as a time and place to buy and sell. | Many of the locals have however become disillusioned with the horse fairs and the fairs have been moved to fields on the outskirts of Stow, with many pubs closing for the duration. | The Market Cross was erected as a symbolic reminder to the traders of medieval times to deal honestly and fairly and still stands proudly in the centre of the square. Today it is a resting place and meeting point for locals and visitors alike and although restored and repaired several times (rather like Trigger’s brush of Del Boy fame) a cross has stood here since the 15th century. | The four sides of the present cross-head represent "The Crucifixion", "St Edward", "The Wool Trade", and "The Civil War", all features of great importance to the townsfolk of Stow-on-the-Wold. | Following the battle of Stow-on-the-Wold in 1646 the commander of the Royalist army, Sir Jacob Astley, made a fighting retreat into the streets of Stow, and, sitting on the base of the Market Cross, he surrendered his army to the Parliamentarians, thus effectively ending the First English Civil War. | Over 1000 royalist prisoners were imprisoned within the Parish Church of St Edward, behind the square, and the dead were laid nearby in Digbeth Street. Legend has it that the blood of the dead was so deep that ducks were able to bathe in pools of blood - which is why ‘Duck’s Bath’ is said to be the origin of ‘Digbeth Street’. | Where the dead are buried largely remains a mystery but a memorial stone to Captain Hastings Keyt, a royalist killed in the battle, can be found within the churchyard.
More Information >>
Featured Hotels