Joyce Scobie, of Sedbergh and District History Society, describes the origin and history of Sedbergh’s market.

Sedbergh obtained its first market charter in 1251 when Lady Alicia Stavely was granted permission to have a market.

The market place was to the north of the church, occupying what is now part of the churchyard and the junction of Finkle Street and Main Street.

It is probable that Sedbergh had its own market before then, possibly started by a few farmers or their wives selling their produce and/or stock.

Landlords were charged 20 marks for the privilege of starting a market. They, in turn, were allowed to impose charges on those both buying and selling.

Stallholders were charged, with a percentage of all takings been given to the lord. Hours of trading were regulated, as were the types of goods which could be sold.

The latter could be tested for quality and fines were payable to the lord when faulty goods were discovered.

Sedbergh’s Charter allowed a market once a week on a Tuesday and also a fair each year lasting for two days on the 7th and 8th of September.

Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries local markets declined, partly due to climate deterioration and frequent outbreaks of cattle plague and sheep rot.

With the coming of the Black Death it is possible that Sedbergh market may have stopped altogether.

However, by the time of Henry VIII, conditions had improved and the then Lords of the Manors, Lord Monteagle and William Parre, applied for and were granted a new charter in 1526 to be held on Wednesdays.

By the mid 19th century the Market Cross just outside the church was the centre of the town with ‘t’Bell Man’ announcing all the local and national events.

The street was very noisy and congested with sheep, cattle, geese, and vegetable and hardware stalls etc crowded into a small space.

The coming of the stage coach which stopped at the King’s Arms (now the Sedbergh Café) made matters worse.

In 1867 the Governors of the Free Grammar School of King Edward VI gave permission for a fair for the sale of horses, cattle and sheep to be held in Town End Field.

Tolls of 1d per head of cattle and 5d per score of sheep were to be paid to the Governors, in addition to the rent of £38 p.a.

Nowadays the market is split – the greater part held in Joss Lane Car Park is enjoying a new lease of life.