Loughborough is famous for its markets and fair and 2021 marked a very special year.

2021 was the 800th anniversary of the Royal Charters, which granted permission for the market and fair to be held in Loughborough.

They were awarded by King Henry III to Hugh le Despenser who was the Lord of the Manor. King Henry was just nine at the time and he later confirmed the charters in 1227.

To celebrate this special year, Charnwood Borough Council, which operates both the market and the fair, worked with a range of partners including Leicestershire County Council, Loughborough Local Studies Volunteers, Community Curators, Loughborough Library. Charnwood Museum and Loughborough Town Hall were also involved.

Events and activities that took place during the 800th anniversary included:

  • The Our Market, Our Fair exhibition featured at Charnwood Museum and Loughborough Library from July and brought together historical records and local connections relating to the market and fair
  • Commemorative lights were installed in the town centre
  • A plaque in the town centre was placed to mark the 800-year-milestone
  • A series of features, photos and videos captured the past, present and future of the market and fair and were shared on social media and other channels
  • A Loughborough Fair exhibition was hosted at Loughborough Town Hall in the Autumn
  • Worked closely with our current traders and showpeople to provide them with an opportunity to tell their own stories about the market and fair. The traders and showpeople have family connections to the market and fair stretching back several generations.
  • Welcomed new traders to the market through our Try a Trade Scheme.

A potted history of Loughborough Market and Loughborough Fair

The charters were first granted in 1221 but they were reaffirmed several times.

  • January 22, 1221 - a charter was signed by King Henry III granting permission to the Lord of the Manor, Hugh le Despenser for a weekly market to be held in Loughborough every Thursday
  • January 27, 1221 – a charter was signed by King Henry III granting permission to the Lord of the Manor, Hugh le Despenser for a fair to be held on The Vigil and Day of St Peter ad Vincula (July 31 and August 1)
  • February 12, 1227, Henry III again granted Hugh le Despenser permission to hold a weekly Thursday market.
  • February 12, 1227 – King Henry III granted Hugh le Despenser permission to hold a fair on The Vigil and Day of St Peter ad Vincula (July 31 and August 1)
  • 1228 – a charter was granted for a fair around All Souls Day. Changes to the Calendar introduced in 1752 resulted in the loss of eleven days and the date of the fair became November 13. However, in 1881 local officials obtained an order to stipulate that the opening day of the Fair would always fall on the second Thursday in November and the date has since remained constant.
  • February 6, 1229, and February 25, 1233 – The fair is granted again by King Henry III to Hugh le Despenser.

Loughborough Fair today

Approximately 100 individual show people attend each year, presenting between them some 20 large rides and numerous children's rides, games and novelty stalls. There are also plenty of refreshment stands as every fair needs candy floss.

Each year, the Mayor of Charnwood officially opens the fair on the first night it is held and reads an official proclamation.

Loughborough Fair is an extremely important event for visitors and families and the showpeople meeting up every year. Some of the showpeople have family members who have stood on the same ground for generations.

The 2020 fair was not held due to the pandemic.

2021's fair took place between November 10 – 13.


Here's a video of commemorative lights installed in Loughborough to mark the special year.

We launched the celebrations on January 22 when using the 'magic of Zoom' we were able to make a call to the Sheriff of Leicestershire back in 1221. Watch the video to see what he had to say.

We also produced another video which explains a bit more about the anniversary and includes some wonderful old photographs courtesy of the Loughborough Library Local Studies 20th Century Photograph Collection.

A display of photos featuring the market traders showing their individual character and charm in the market. The traders have family connections to the market stretching back several generations.

Last updated: Thu 1st June, 2023 @ 15:55