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Market Makes a Medieval New Town

1143

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King Stephen visited and stayed at the monastery in 1143, granting a market charter. This allowed Abbot Martin de Bec to create a new market area to the west of the monastic precincts. He was then able to bankroll the building of the new monastic church. The monks created new commercial streets around the outside, leading to the first ‘new town’ development in Peterborough and effectively the street plan which still exists as the city centre today. The market square was later infilled with St John's church and the Guildhall or Buttercross. This almost halved the market square, but provided a religious centre for the townspeople.





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The Guildhall Completed

1671

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The Guildhall, also known as the Buttercross or Chamber Over the Cross, was built to commemorate the restoration of the monarchy and was paid for by public subscription. It was built by local builder John Lovin, who was partly paid by the minting of an octagonal Peterborough halfpenny. Many local influential families subscribed to the building of the Guildhall and several coats of arms can be seen on the side of the building. Peterborough Museum houses a turtle shell decorated with the arms of Sir Humphrey Orme, MP and owner of Neville Place (the site of the present museum). It is said that Sir Humphrey supplied the turtle for soup eaten to celebrate its completion.





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Celia Fiennes Passed Through the City

1698

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Celia Fiennes was a prolific traveller who documented her journey around Britain on a horse. At a time when only the wealthy could contemplate travelling and when the majority of literature is written by men, Celia Fiennes' work is refreshing. Celia passed through Peterborough and much admired the cathedral and town. She wrote that the city 'looks very well and handsomely built, but mostly timber worke: you pass over a Long stone bridg. The streetes are very clean and neate, well pitch'd and broad as one shall see any where, there is a very spacious market place, a good Cross and a town Hall on the top (the Guildhall or Buttercross).' She continued her prose, describing the cathedral in great detail before her journey continued on to Wansford. Worth noting that she describes Peterborough as being in Lincolnshire and surrounded by the Lin (possibly mishearing Nin), suggesting that she hadn't taken a very good look at the city or spoken to the locals! All quotes from: Celia Fiennes, Through England on a Side Saddle, Folkcustoms.co.uk, 2016, pp130-131





Creation of the Feoffees in the City

1572

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Peterborough was, for many years, controlled by the abbey. However, the creation of municipal control started in 1572 when three local men, Robert Mallory, Thomas Robinson and Jeremy Green bought some of the church lands and offered them to the city. Income from the lands was used to help the poor and keep the roads, church and other buildings in good repair with the advice of the church wardens. 14 Feoffees were chosen to oversee these activities, working as councillors do in the 21st century.
The Men
The feoffees consisted of between 4 and 14 respectable, wealthy men. They worked together to keep the city in good order and to help those in dire straits. The account and minute books of the feoffees detail monies given to the poor. Money was provided for food or clothing and sheets to wrap up bodies if they died. Well-known feoffees included Humphrey Orme, Thomas Deacon and William Hake.
Feoffees Buildings
Evidence of the work of the Feoffees can be seen in the first almshouses, founded in 1722 in Cumbergate. They were also the driving force for the Guildhall or Buttercross in the marketplace, which was where they held their meetings. They originally met in the Moot Hall or Guildhall, which was on the corner of Cumbergate.