A celebration of the Cotswold market cross

Market cross buildings were a common feature of English towns and villages in medieval and early modern times. Being an area that grew from the wool trade and thus wool markets, the Cotswolds is no exception. These buildings were typically located at the centre of a town or village, near the market square or marketplace, and they served a variety of purposes.

Malmesbury Market Cross poster

The decorative crown-like covered Malmesbury market cross, built in 1490.

One of the primary roles of market cross buildings was to provide a covered space for merchants and traders to conduct business. The market cross building would typically have an open space, where merchants could set up their stalls and sell their goods, providing a sheltered and convenient location for people to shop and trade.

Chipping Campden market cross

The large Chipping Campden market cross, built in 1627.

Some market crosses are more marker points: not a building but a monument, often featuring a Christian cross at the top. Like the buildings, these would serve as a central meeting point for townspeople, and it was a common location for public events and gatherings. For example, a market cross might be the place where town meetings, religious services, or even as a court of law took place.

Stow on the Wold poster

The Stow on the Wold market cross monument.

Over time, the role of market cross buildings in English towns changed and evolved. In some cases, the market cross building was replaced by a more modern market hall or a town hall, a library, or a museum. Despite these changes, market cross buildings continue to be an celebrated part of the architectural and cultural heritage of many English towns and villages.

Tetbury Market House poster

Tetbury's elevated market house, built in 1655.

Many market cross buildings and monuments were beautifully designed and ornately decorated, and they served as a landmark and visible reminder of the town or village's history and identity. In some cases, the market cross building or monument also served as a memorial or tribute to important figures or events in the town's history.

 Devizes market cross poster

The ornate Devizes market cross monument, built in 1814.

Take a look at the poster designs featuring a market cross here (and those featuring a town hall here).

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