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 . . .