For the last several weeks, a pop-up market has been taking place in the small English village of Sileby. They have now been ordered to shut down, because of a charter signed nearly 800 years ago by King Henry III.
The village of Sileby, in Leicestershire, began the small market in the parking lot of The Free Trade Inn earlier this summer. Every Tuesday stalls would be set up so that local businesses could sell foods and flowers. However, they have now been ordered to stop by Charnwood Borough Council, which represents the nearby town of Loughborough.
The council states that the pop-up market breaches a Royal Charter signed by King Henry III in 1227, which gave Loughborough the right to hold a market two days a week. Furthermore, the charter prohibits any other market ‘within six and two-thirds miles’ of this town. Sileby lies just within that boundary.
The action has frustrated local residents and attracted media attention, including the BBC and The Daily Mail. The Sileby Parish Council commented that they were “shocked and disappointed” at this news, and are working to restore the market. The parish council notes that “we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic with Charnwood very much still under pressure regarding the number of people with COVID 19. Villagers are very nervous about public transport and going to larger public places which attract larger numbers of people. This market is a lifeline for them to be able to access great, fresh produce on their doorstep. It is particularly essential that it continues given the current situation.”
Meanwhile, Charnwood Borough Council has defended its decision and the importance of the thirteenth century charter. “The Royal Charter and our rival market policy are in place to protect Loughborough Market and give us the authority to refuse to permit a market operating within six and two third miles of Loughborough Market,” explains Councillor Jenny Bokor, Lead Member for Loughborough. “Whilst the charter is old it is still in force in Loughborough and other charters are still in use around the country, such as Leicester.
“The principle of these charters is to stop rival markets setting up in the area and damaging Loughborough Market. If we did not enforce the charter, a legally recognised power, it could set a precedent and leave us unable to prevent markets popping up in other locations. This would seriously damage the viability of the award-winning Loughborough Market.
“We look after our market because it has been around for 799 years, it is part of the town’s tradition and its traders make their living from it. The market serves the whole of the borough. The footfall also helps other businesses in the town. We are also duty-bound by the charter.”
Charnwood Borough Council has offered the villagers of Sileby the right to have a pop-up market if it is no more than five stalls each Tuesday. Meanwhile, an online petition has been launched to save the Sileby market, which has already garnered 1600 signatures. .
Top Image: Miniature of Henry III enthroned, flanked by Westminster Abbey and church bells. British Library MS Royal 20.A.II, f.9