Oundle is one of 359 market towns in the UK. The term ‘market town’ is not just a description of a quaint place to live, it is a legal term defined by the English monarchy which established a system where a new market town could not be within ‘a day’s worth of travelling’ to another market town. A town can have ‘market rights’ even if it no longer holds a market. So although some market towns no longer host markets, Oundle has been hosting various markets since 972AD. Nowadays, Oundle hosts weekly, monthly and annual speciality markets.
The Thursday market is a familiar sight to the residents of Oundle. Since 972AD there has been a market in the heart of Oundle, and the market still trades every Thursday, stocked with a wide variety of goods, ranging from fresh fruit and vegetables to second hand toys and a watch repair stall. The Thursday market has everything and it is still as busy as ever.
On the second Saturday of each month Oundle enjoys a bumper farmer’s market. There are up to 40 stalls selling a huge range of produce. Open from 8am till 2pm, traders include the Fudge Factory and Wobbly Bottom Farm goat’s cheese. The market is a great way to grab a quick lunch, as there is always a variety of exotic burgers and snacks, ranging from venison to a traditional hog roast.
The Italian Market in April is also a great attraction, celebrating authentic Italian food.
The inaugural sausage market on November 14 was part of Oundle’s Sausage Festival 2015. With Trendall’s Butchers and the Seven Wells Family Butchers in Oundle, the town is already known for its great bangers, but a whole week of sausage celebrating took our love of sausages to the next level. The market took place on the last day of the sausage festival, and was combined with a dog show, which appropriately included a category for best sausage dog in show. Earlier in the week, there was a competition, to separate the best bangers from the worst wurst, which was won by Mould’s of Nassington.
The other big annual market is the Fairtrade and Eco Market which takes place in the church in the run-up to Christmas shopping. The town is very proud of its Fairtrade status, which was achieved in 2007, and renews every two years. The market at St Peter’s Church is well stocked with Fairtrade food, handmade goods and crafts, recycled and organic products.
The highlight market of the year has to be the Oundle Food Festival, which takes place in July. The entire town is given over to a celebration of food, with the field by the Wharf being used as a temporary car park linking to a shuttle bus system to get thousands of visitors to the town centre. Because it is part of the Oundle International Festival, there is more than just food to enjoy, with a variety of music performances and plays as part of the week-long arts festival.
The Christmas Market in early December hosts 60 stalls selling a mixture of festive gifts and food. Mulled wine and chestnuts keep market-goers sustained, whilst children visit Santa Claus at his Christmas grotto. When the Christmas lights are officially lit at 6.00pm, everyone gets into the holiday spirit.
Paula Prince, the events organiser for Oundle Town Council has promised even more markets in the coming year, with plans for a suitcase market and a teenage market.
By Thomas Dudley