Logo to mark the markets and fair's 800th anniversaryLoughborough is famous for its markets and fair and 2021 marks a very special year.

This year is 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.

The weekly market is still being held in Loughborough and the fair takes place every November with both events having few breaks in eight centuries of history. The cancellation of the fair in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic is thought to be one of the few occasions the fair has not been held.

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

Planned events and activities to celebrate the 800th anniversary include:

  • The Our Market, Our Fair exhibition will feature at Charnwood Museum and Loughborough Library from July and will bring together historical records and local connections relating to the market and fair
  • Commemorative lights will be installed in the town centre
  • A plaque in the town centre will mark the 800-year-milestone
  • A series of features, photos and videos will capture the past, present and future of the market and fair and be shared on social media and other channels
  • A Loughborough Fair exhibition will be hosted at Loughborough Town Hall in the Autumn
  • Working 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.
  • Welcoming new traders to the market through our Try a Trade Scheme which will be updated and relaunched in spring.

The Council will be looking at other ways to commemorate the 800th anniversary but some events and plans may depend on Covid-19 restrictions.

We will keep this web page updated.

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 Market today

A retail market is held every Thursday and Saturday in the heart of Loughborough with over 100 stalls selling a variety of fresh produce, household goods and clothes.

It takes place in Market Place, Devonshire Square and High Street.

Market days are still the busiest in terms of footfall and people travel to visit the market on a regular basis.

A Vintage Fair is held every Friday and there is also a Farmers’ Market on the second Wednesday of every month.

The schedule of markets may be affected by Covid-19 restrictions.

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.

This year’s fair is planned for November 10 – 13.

Videos

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've 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.

Market 800

Market 800 is a partnership project between Leicestershire County Council and Charnwood Borough Council, with Loughborough Local Studies Volunteers leading on the historical research and Community Curators exploring modern connections to be shared in an exhibition at Charnwood Museum and Loughborough Library.

‘Our Market, Our Fair’ seeks to engage with local people to gather memories and connections and create an exhibition in 2021 to commemorate the 800th anniversary of this very special fair and market, adding this very personal side of history to the exhibition.

The team want to capture as many memories as possible to share in the exhibition, as well as using them to create a community film, add to the East Midlands Oral History Archive and catalogue in the archives at the Record Office for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

The team would love to hear from people of all ages who have memories or connections – whether from many years back or much more recently. No memory is too small or insignificant for inclusion, as we are hoping to include as much of the sights, sounds and smells of the market and fair as we can.

Anyone who would like to get involved and share their unique connections to Loughborough Fair or Market is asked to get in touch by emailing participation@leics.gov.uk.

More information about the project

Last updated: Tue 20th July, 2021 @ 17:16