To Market To Market To Buy A Fat Pig … or whatever takes your fancy.


To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

To market, to market, to buy a fat hog

Home again, home again, jiggety-jog

To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,

Home again, home again, market is done.

All children love this rhyme, and this version of it is from the late nineteenth century. The first version, earlier that century, made no mention of a pig.


And the reason I’m quoting the rhyme at all . . .?

Well, I love old towns, old buildings and anything of historical interest in general. The market town of Newark (full title, Newark-on-Trent) in Nottinghamshire, is simply brimming with history, and I’ll be doing a post about it some time soon. (We lived in Newark for eleven years, before moving out to enjoy village life seven miles away.) Today I just want to share some views of the market and market place in general and a few words about its history. Our eldest son has his butcher’s shop there which, naturally, we visit when we’re in town.

Map of Nottinghamshire, UK. Source: Ordnance Survey OpenData. Author: Nilkamion. Commons
Map of Nottinghamshire, UK. Source: Ordnance Survey OpenData. Author: Nilfanion. Commons

Newark Royal Market is one of the oldest in the UK, dating back to the 12th century when a charter was granted by Henry VI. Originally held on a Sunday, it became the first market in England to operate on a Wednesday. Its Royal Charter was granted in 1549 by Edward VI,  and since then it has continued to be a key trading centre for the region. Markets are held five days a week: general markets on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and ‘collectors’ or antique markets on Mondays and Thursdays (which sound impressive, although few stalls are involved).

The markets are held in the impressive market place, overlooked by the Georgian town hall, with the spire of the church, St. Mary Magdalene, also in the background. Both of these can be seen in the photos below, as well as a few very old, Tudor-style buildings and the old water pump. There are also some stocks – which I forgot to photograph yesterday.

Until relatively recently, Newark was famed for having the oldest cobbled market place in the country, and possibly in Europe. But sometime around 2000, the old cobbles were removed and replaced by new, smoother and flatter ones. I completely understand that this was done for safety reasons – old people, either on foot, in wheelchairs or mobility scooters, and mothers with pushchairs, all found the bumpy cobbles difficult to walk on. For anyone unsteady on their legs, they were obviously dangerous. Yet the destruction of something of such historical value still causes a pang.

And this is my son’s butcher’s shop, also in a really old building, close to the market square:

The cellars beneath Richard’s shop have tunnels running through the shops alongside it, right up to the building facing the market place. They were all once part of that building – an old hotel/inn called The Clinton Arms. The last picture above shows the view from his shop to the market. We’re delighted that it’s such a prime site for him, and his shop is very popular. Not surprisingly, he’s a great butcher, having worked at it since leaving school (and he’s now 41).

So I suppose, if anyone wanted to buy a fat pig (though not a live one) Richard’s would be the place to go . . .


53 thoughts on “To Market To Market To Buy A Fat Pig … or whatever takes your fancy.

    1. Ah, but you haven’t tried Richard’s sausages – they’re ‘show winning’ creations! (Seriously.) All markets are great-so atmospheric. I loved Tiverton market when we lived in Devon for a while. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Lynn. Yes, the shop is Richard’s. He’s had it for a couple of years now, after being a manager at anothe shop for years. He finally decided it was time to go for it on his own. We’re so pleased he’s doing so well – the best butcher in the area. He makes 24 types of sausages, and even some different ones that people request. He’s so busy at Christmas. People are already starting to hand their orders in. He rarely has time to get to bed for a couple of days before Christmas Eve. Crazy busy!

      1. Wow that is so nice and the shop looks very nice! I love the cobble stone streets too bad that they had to replace them! I loved this post and then it was so personal seeing Richard’s shop!

      2. Two of my sons still live in Newark – Richard and Thomas. It’s a quaint old town, with so many really old bulidings. The market of today is much smaller than it was twenty odd years ago. It used to spraed out down the surrounding streets at one time – so many stalls. There’s too much competition from supermarkets nowadays. Many people like to get their shopping n one place and haven’t time to traipse around the market for fresh food. It’s a shame, but that’s how modern life is.

  1. I love the photos with the old half-timbered buildings. Is that what you call them? They look so old and quaint! And so interesting too. Those tunnels underneath your son’s shop, or next to it: what would have been their purpose? I guess that they would have been useful during WWII during air raid drills? Great post and wonderful photos, Millie.

    1. The town of Newark dates back to the Middle Ages, and there are still buildings of that age around, like the castle and church. Archaeologists have also found Roman and Saxon remains in the castle grounds. My eldest daughter, who’s an archaeologist, was part of a dig there some years ago and they found such interesting artefacts. The main thing Newark is known for is its part in the Civil War (1642-49). There are stories about tunnels connecting the castle and church, in order for Royalists to escape when the town was under attack by Roundheads. The tunnels under Richard’s shop are just passageways connecting the cellars of the different parts of the old inn. Richard keeps the thick gates well and truly locked. He stores a lot of stuff in his cellar! 🙂

      1. I guess it is a perfect place to store items! Interesting history re the civil war. We studied a lot of English history here in the antipodian curriculum, however not middle English history so I know surprisingly little about the Roundheads.

  2. That is such a lovely place and it looks so festive! I also adore your son’s shop, While those cobblestone streets are also very attractive and historical, I can see where that would be an impediment to some. We have a few brick streets in town and are likewise very rough to drive over. Again, how wonderful it would be to live in a place with such history. Thanks for sharing Millie 🙂

    1. Thanks, L.T. I’m lucky, I suppose, living between two such historic places – Lincoln and Newark. I’ve collected so much ‘material’ for posts from both places. Perhaps one day you’ll get over here to have a look at some of our most famous places. London would be the place to start, I suppose. As for me … I want to see the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone Park. Not to mention New England in the Fall … And so it goes on. One day, eh? 🙂

    1. Thank you, Freda. I love old towns and am happy to live in between Newark and Lincoln. Both are steeped in history – well worth doing posts about (for a history lover like me, anyway). 😀

  3. It is an exceptionally beautiful post with an exquisite mix of history, present and of course, the personal touch. 😍
    The market looks so graceful and tells innumerable stories that have been happened on its streets and in its building over the years. I can imagine people enjoying their Wednesdays here walking in strange (which were then fashionable) attire 😁
    And Richard’s is such a beautiful shop! Loved it and the ‘this month’s offer’ 😁

    1. Hi Prateek. Thank you for that! There are lots of lovely old buildings around Newark that help to stir the imagination. I’ll do a post or two about it later on. And Richard is really happy doing what he does. He’s a hard worker, and an astute business man. Most of all, there’s nothing he doesn’t know about meat!
      (Not my idea of fun, but each to his own. 🙂 )

  4. Very special! The whole atmosphere at markets are so relaxing because people are not in a hurry to buy and go home. Here they also have veggy markets on Saturdays. Produce are fresh and delicious worth visiting once a week. Your photos are lovely and inviting. Awesome that your son is doing so well in his butchery.

    1. Thanks Scrapydo. Richard’s always wanted to be a butcher – ever since he was fifteen and helped out on a farm at Christmas, preparing turkeys. Newark’s a good place for his shop because he’s so well known, having grown up there.

      1. Well, he was the only one of our six to decide so early on. The rest did the usual thing of veering from one thing to another. Richard just decided that the academic life wasn’t for him – although he’s easily as intelligent as the others. He’s got a real ‘business’ mind, but he’s also a lot of fun – and is always smiling. That’s why customers love him, and his shop is so popular. Plus the excellent quality of his meat, of course. (Of course, I’m just a bit biased!) 🙂

      2. A lot to be proud of. My son also had end results to open his academic world but no, IT was the thing and he is still thriving in it. At the moment he is designing electronic boards(don’t ask me what they call it!) His own business is starting to flourish. I am packing and sending parcels off while he is on holiday in Europe! He wants me to help him because he wants to go on with his designing and I could pack and send them away.

      3. That sounds like a fantastic job. IT is the way to go. (Our youngest son is in computers, too.) I hope you can cope with the extra work, Ineke. I know you want to help your son as much as you can, but be sure it doesn’t become too much for you. I’m sure he really appreciates it. Just take care.

      4. Thank you, I’ll remember your words. My son really appreciates it because is the same as me, only the best is good enough. I enjoy helping him, he does the tiny parts and I do the bigger ones because I can’t see the small pieces! I also tremble a bit when I’m not relaxed then it doesn’t work to help!

  5. My niece lives in Newark, but haven’t been over there for ages – due to all sorts of stuff meaning we’ve ended up meeting up elsewhere. Are there any ghosts in the tunnels below your sons shop? Usually a good few stories attatched to that sort of thing.

    1. No one has ever mentioned ghosts, fortunately. Richard would know about them if there were. Everyone chats away to him. He’s such a typical, burly butcher, with a huge smile. It’s amazing the way some old buildings were built, cellars and all. But as I said, all the shops along that side were once all part of the same inn.

  6. I always find it incredible how old buildings were built without modern diggers and cranes and materials. And most are more attractive too. Your Richard’s shop is beautiful.

    1. There are some lovely old buildings around Newark – and I don’t mean the medieval castle and church. I hope to do a post or two on the history of Newark soon, especially during the Civil War – the reason there’s only a couple of outer walls of the castle left. (Thanks to Ollie Cromwell!)

    1. Hello and thank you again, Andy. I just hopped over to your blog to say ‘hello’ and will pop back again to have a look a few posts asap. 🙂
      Newark is a very olde worlde town, with lots of old buildings and the historic market place. Unfortunetely, the market has become smaller over the years, with all the competition from supermarkets. It used to spread out down the surrounding streets when we first moved there in the late 70s. It’s lovely down by the River Trent, overlooked by the castle (or what’s left of it!). 🙂

      1. I love the olde worlde style towns, that’s something that Glenrothes certainly isn’t, but as new towns go, Glenrothes is very green with plenty of trees and grassy areas. Back to Newark, it’s a shame that the market is much smaller nowadays, supermarkets have an awful lot to answer for!! Like you, I’ll be back to your blog to have a proper look over the next few days. I can thank Amanda at for getting to see your blog in the first place. You guessed where her mystery photo was, it was my photo 🙂

      2. Was that the photo of Hadrian’s Wall? I love it up there, and have been so many times, I’ve lost count. The school I used to teach at in Newark used to take Year 7s every year. We stayed at the Once Brewed youth hostel, which is now the Northumberland Information Centre. I’ve since been up with Nick (husband) and other family members as well many times. We were up there for a few days in August, and I have three posts ready to go once I’ve finished the ones on Malta. I’m considering something set up there for my next book (if I ever finish this one!). 😀

      3. I’ve just been to Hadrian’s Wall the once, I would love to go back, it’s yet another beautiful part of the country. Your Year 7’s were really lucky (as was their teacher!!) to go up there every year, just the sort of place 11year olds would love!! And youth hostelling is a great way to do it, something else I’ve not done for over 30 years 😦 A novel based around Hadrian’s Wall would be brilliant 🙂 🙂

  7. What a lovely market it is! ❤ It looks so cute having all these little stalls in the market. I already imagined buying some fresh produces from the market and get some sausages from your son's shop. His shop looks so wonderful with all the surroundings in the market. I bet he is very happy to run this busy shop. Great post Millie! ❤ 🙂

  8. A tunnel, had my imagination rolling. 🙂 Such an old place and I bet each corner will have a story to tell. Thanks for these pictures and your posts.
    Your son’s shop looks very cool. 🙂

    1. Newark has a lot of interesting history and I’ll do a post or two about it sometime. Richard loves his shop because it’s in a prime place for customers, right next to the market place. A lot of people pass by his shop on the way there. Thanks, Norma. 🙂

      1. Thank you, Norma! Richard is a good businessman and a great butcher, and I think he’ll do very well. He’s also one of those people that everybody likes. It’s his big smile that gets them! (Mum talking here. Haha) 🙂

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