Stow-on-the-Wold

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Coordinates: 51°55′40″N 1°43′04″W / 51.92768°N 1.71783°W / 51.92768; -1.71783

Stow-on-the-Wold is a market town and civil parish in Gloucestershire, England. It is situated on top of an 800 ft (244 m) hill, at the convergence of a number of major roads through the Cotswolds, including the Fosse Way (A429). The town was founded as a planned market place by Norman lords to take advantage of trade on the converging roads. Fairs have been held by royal charter since 1330 and an annual horse fair is still held on the edge of the town.

Contents

History

Origins

Stow-on-the-Wold, originally called Stow St. Edward or Edwardstow after the town's patron saint Edward, probably Edward the Martyr,[1] is said to have originated as an Iron Age fort on this defensive position on a hill. Indeed, there are many sites of similar forts in the area, and Stone Age and Bronze Age burial mounds are common throughout the area. It is likely that Maugersbury was the primary settlement of the parish before Stow was built as a marketplace on the hilltop nearer to the crossroads, to take advantage of passing trade. Originally the small settlement was controlled by abbots from the local abbey, and when the first weekly market was set up in 1107 by Henry I, he decreed that the proceeds go to Evesham Abbey.[1]

Fairs

In 1330, Edward III set up an annual 7-day market to be held in August. This was replaced by Edward IV in 1476 with two 5-day fairs, two days before and two days after the feast of St Philip and St James in May, and similarly in October on the feast of St Edward the Confessor (the saint associated with the town). The aim of these annual fairs was to establish Stow as a place to trade, and to remedy the unpredictable passing trade. These fairs were located in the square, which is still the town centre. (See also Charter fair.)

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