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Silsoe Market and Fair

The FitzRichard family coat of arms
The FitzRichard family coat of arms

The second volume of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire, published in 1908 says, rather unflatteringly, of Silsoe that it "has now become a village of small importance". It goes on to state that the village once had a market.

This was granted to the Lord of the Manor of Newbury, Ralph FitzRichard, in 1318. At the same time FitzRichard was granted an annual fair on 30th April and 1st May. In 1330 he procured a charter granting these two rights.

At some unspecified date both market and fair lapsed. Then, in 1715, the Duke of Kent was granted a fair on 10th September every year and a weekly market on a Wednesday. The Victoria County History noted: "The market has since been disused but the fair is still held on 13th May".

The market and fair seem to have been held at the crossroads of Church Road, High Street and the road to Wrest Park. Evidence for this comes from four facts:

  • the position is obviously central when viewed on the 1718 map;
  • the lockup, for malefactors caught making an affray or picking pockets, is in Church Road;
  • the George Inn, the principal watering hole, then stood where 6 and 8 High Street now stand, running up towards today's Star and Garter;
  • the Ragged Staff, which covered today's 2 and 4 Church Road and 31 High Street has an entry in a rental of 1719 [L33/284 folio 11] which states: "N. B. the Toll of the Fair is not included in the aforesaid rent".

An image of the marjet charter can be seen on this linked page.