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Cherry Fair Founded



Cherry Fair was one of the oldest fairs in Peterborough, granted by a charter in 1189 by Richard I to Abbot Benedict. It was planned to be held on or around St Peter's Feast, on the 29th June, which is why the fair was also known as St Peter's or Petermas Fair and ran for eight days. In 1572 the date of the fair was moved from 29th June to 10th July. It was traditionally held in the Market Place (Cathedral Square), but in 1899 it was held in Broadway opposite the cattle market, after dwindling visitors and a lack of interest. By 1915 it was little more than a meat market.

Last Public Flogging



Benjamin Ayres and John Wyles were both convicted of stealing malt from Edward Hall of Wansford on 21st April at the Peterborough sessions.  John Wyles was given three months imprisonment, but Benjamin Ayres, having previously been employed by Mr Hall, received three months imprisonment and was to be publicly whipped once. An account from 90-year-old Thomas White Holdich in the Peterborough Advertiser in March 1899 recounted his memories of, amongst other things, whipping or flogging in the market place. Mr Holdich claimed that the prisoner would have has hands and feet tied behind him, whilst he was pulled behind a cart, forcing him to kneel. The gaol keeper would climb onto the cart with a cat-o'-nine tails and would whip the prisoner at around 30 second intervals as they travelled around the market place.

The London Brick Company



Peterborough benefitted from a type of clay that provided an ideal raw material for brick making – first exploited by the Romans, abandoned after they left and again revived in the 1400’s by local craftspeople who created the material for building locally. In 1877 James McCallum Craig bought a property at auction near Peterborough, known as Fletton Lodge. He decided that the site was ideal for local brick making and started a small company. When excavation of the surface clay at Fletton began, a much harder clay was found deeper down, the unique Lower Oxford Clay. It was locally known as the ‘Fletton’ because of its original place of manufacture, but its main market was in London, transported there on the Peterborough to London rail line, so giving the name London Brick. The end of the First World War in 1918 brought a huge demand for London Bricks to fulfil the massive increase in house building and in the late 1920s there was an amalgamation of several small companies into a larger, more efficient company, London Brick. By 1931, 1,000 million bricks a year were being produced. After World War II there was another building boom and this increased the success of the company; demand for bricks far outstripped supply and by the early 1950s many workers were being recruited from as far afield as Italy to satisfy the need for London Bricks.


Celia Fiennes Passed Through the City



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,, 2016, pp130-131

Creation of the Feoffees in the City



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.

A Hill in the Middle of Peterborough!



For some time during the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the market place in Peterborough was known as Market Hill. The earliest reference from the papers is an advert from 1736 for the letting of 'An old-accustom'd Grocer's Shop... situate upon the Market Hill in Peterborough'. A reference to the Talbot Inn from 1774 states it is 'on the market hill'. This continued until an 1898 reference to J. A. Bingham, Auctioneer of Market Hill, Peterborough. Currently the area is known as Cathedral Square. Cambridge and Chatteris still use the word for their market places. It certainly is an odd choice of word for towns in areas with little or no hills! Source: Stamford Mercury, Thursday 5th August 1736, page 4, col 1

Woodstons Fair



Its position abutting the Nene has provided Woodston with both fertile growing land and access to and from the water. This access has made it desirable as a place to disembark if travelling from the west, for the Peterborough toll could be avoided. It is possible that Wharf Road was the toll road used. The Abbot of Thorney had been granted the right to hold a regular market in Yaxley by William the Conqueror. Goods and people travelling there would disembark in Woodston, which was also in the possession of Thorney Abbey. The abbot asked for a market to be held in Woodston on the day before Yaxley market in 1268. In the same year the abbot requested a fair to celebrate 'the vigil and feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist'. Woodston fair would fall on the 29th August, despite sounding like something more appropriate for 31st October! There is no evidence that this fair ever took place, but a fair to celebrate a beheading must have been an interesting sight. Reference: Picture Credit: cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Nigel Cox -