Teynham's Markets and Fairs

Markets and fairs were trading events or institutions that met at regular intervals. Many of them were held at towns, but they were also held at a range of other settlements.

In  England royal grants of markets and fairs are systematically recorded only from 1199. Generally, these grants from the king took the form of charters. Many markets and fairs certainly existed before the period of recorded grants: these were held by custom and are described as prescriptive. A significant number of prescriptive markets was held at places belonging to the king and so did not require a charter.


Usually a market was held once a week, on a set day and at a set place. It was obviously important that buyers and sellers knew when and where to turn up. Older Sunday markets were often held in and around churchyards, conveniently near the church. During the early thirteenth century there was a movement against these Sunday markets and against trading in cemeteries.

Teynham had a Charter, granted on the 11th November 1259 by King Henry III to Boniface, Archbishop of Canterbury, to hold a market on Tuesdays.  No record has been found to date where Teynham’s took place.


A fair was held once a year and was almost always associated with a religious festival, generally a saint's day. The date of the fair was expressed in terms of that feast.  Many fairs were held over several consecutive days. They were still defined in terms of one particular saint's feast, perhaps beginning the day before the feast (known as the vigil or the eve) or lasting until the day after the feast (known as the morrow).

A fair might be held for anything from one day to several weeks or even a month, but from the thirteenth century onwards many seem to have lasted just two or three days, typically on the vigil, feast and morrow of a particular saint's day. In addition, a small number of grants expressed the dates of fairs by the day of the month.  A significant minority of fairs was linked to Easter and to its associated feasts, such as Whitsun and Holy Trinity. Since the earliest possible date for Easter Sunday was 22nd March and the latest 25th April, fairs associated with Easter could experience, from year to year, different phases in the agricultural cycle and significantly different weather and travel conditions. Fairs were also linked to other moveable feasts.

Teynham had a Charter, granted on the 11th November 1259 by King Henry III to Boniface, Archbishop of Canterbury, to have a fair associated with the feast of ‘Assumption’, which is on the 15th August.  It is, according to the traditions of the Catholic Church, the day the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, having completed the course of her earthly life and was transported into Heaven with her body and soul united. The feast day recognizing this is celebrated by Roman Catholics as 'The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary'.

Teynham’s fair began the day before the feast day, the vigil on the 14th August, continued on for the feast date, the 15th August and completed on the 16th August, the morrow.

Like a market, a fair was normally held at a set place. Fairs were sometimes held outside the physical limits of the town, where there was space for large gatherings of people and animals.  No record has been found to date where Teynham’s took place.

It is also not known when these practices ceased for Teynham, if indeed any fairs and markets were in fact held on the above days.  Later recordings indicate that there was possible a fair held at Green Street/Greenstreet, for cattle etc., on either 1st May or 15th May. The former appears to be more likely being ‘May Day’. Green Street/Greenstreet is now the  A2 London Road and the only acknowledgement of its exsitance is the name of the pharmacy - "Greenstreet Pharmacy".

 Sourced from 'Calender of Charter Rolls (1226-1516)  6 vols  (London 1903-27)