Little-known history of Cambridge's legendary market

Cambridge Market has a history going back hundreds of years

GB About: #ThursdayThoughts Publish: 03/10/2022 Edit: 03/10/2022 Author: Gardener


CambridgeSign up for our free email newsletter to get the latest breaking news and daily summaries. Sign up for our free email newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and daily summaries packed with history and meaning. Here at CambridgeshireLive we love telling the forgotten stories of our county's past and that's why we've launched our Throwback Thursday history series. Where each week we will bring you an article delving into the past of one of the county's artifacts, locations or buildings. This week we take a look at the interesting past of Cambridge Market - a very popular part of the city that has been around for a long time. Even if the market has been around since the Middle Ages, with all the changes over the centuries it looks a bit different today than it did back then. Market Square has been the beating heart of central Cambridge since medieval times. The ships brought wine, salt, fish and other luxuries to docks along the river, which were then sold in markets like Cambridge's. At the time, people would travel from all over the area to come to the market - be it to sell, buy, get the latest gossip or see justice being carried out publicly - as it was the site of the fair prison and the public flogging. as well as the stocks and even decapitations. The medieval market was much larger than the one that followed, consisting partly of makeshift stalls and partly of permanent shophouses overlooking the open spaces of the market. The northern end of the market is thought to have held the higher end vendors such as goldsmiths and spices, while the southern end tended to sell groceries - although the southern end was eventually taken over by city buildings. Before the mid-19th century, Cambridge's market square was L-shaped and flanked by wooden buildings stretching from Petty Cury to Peas Hill. But in September 1849 the market burned down in a great fire that damaged many of the houses on Market Hill. When the fire broke out, everyone tried to put out the flames together – there was no fire department back then. Water was supposed to be available at the fountain head in the center, but unlocking it required a key that no one could find. The market was restored as a square; and is still in the same shape today as it was then. When the armistice was celebrated at the end of the First World War in 1918, Cambridge cheered for a week in the market square. An effigy of the German Kaiser was hoisted on bayonet point and carried through the streets before bursting into flames from a bonfire in Market Hill one evening, according to a historic Cambridge News article. According to a diary from the time, there were also reports of a bomber "machine gunning" the market square in 1941 during World War II, injuring a woman. An air raid alert went off around noon and lasted until after 2 p.m., with the diarist explaining that they heard a bomber "walk over" and when they went to the store's door to check, two fighters then "rushed." past in the same direction'. In 1945 VE celebrations were held in the Market Square, with a crowd of several thousand people gathering - although things turned aggressive when a waste paper dump in St's fountain and the Guildhall clock were climbed - according to an excerpt from the Cambridge News 8 May 1945. Cambridge Market can still be found in Market Square in Cambridge city centre. There are also vendors offering services such as watch and bike repairs - very useful for a town that loves cycling. Want more news straight to your inbox?


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