Royal visitors delight crowds in Market Harborough

Published Thursday 9 September 2021

Their Royal Highnesses, The Earl and Countess of Wessex, yesterday (Wednesday) visited Market Harborough on a whistle-stop tour to honour the town’s 800-year history.

Mike Kapur, the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Colonel Murray Colville, the Vice-Lord Lieutenant, and Stephen Bilbie, chairman of Harborough District Council, were on hand to guide the Royal couple through Harborough Indoor Market to meet traders who have worked tirelessly to support their community throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Royal visit

This year marks a special milestone for the market, which is celebrating its 800th anniversary. Their Royal Highnesses were shown the ‘People’s Gallery’ featuring photographs of the market, through the ages, which has been commissioned to mark the significant anniversary.

Cllr Stephen Bilbie, Chairman of Harborough District Council said: “We're delighted and privileged to receive a visit from TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex as part of our 800th anniversary of the market. It was such an exciting occasion and wonderful to see so many people, including school children, come along to see them. Their Royal Highnesses enjoyed talking to some of the market traders and seeing the ‘People’s Gallery’ featuring old photographs of the market through the ages. They were also very interested in the museum and unveiled a plaque marking this important milestone in the town’s history.”

From the market, The Earl and Countess of Wessex then visited Harborough Museum, where they had the opportunity to learn more about the town's rich history and were the first people to visit a specially curated display on Harborough’s Market Charter, which is now open to the public.

The county council supported the creation of the display, and chairman, Councillor Dan Harrison, helped to welcome the Royals to the museum.

Dan Harrison, Chairman of Leicestershire County Council said: “It was a great honour to welcome Their Royal Highnesses to Leicestershire and to have the opportunity to showcase what an important place Market Harborough is historically. I encourage the public to visit Harborough Museum for themselves, I think they will be really surprised at some of the things they learn about this beloved town.”

The Earl and Countess then unveiled a new plaque at the Old Grammar School, which was the site of the original butter market.

The plaque commemorates the launch of the new Market Harborough historic market trail, which guides people around the town, highlighting key locations and their importance in the history of the various markets which have operated over the past 800 years. 

Mike Kapur, Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire said: “It is always a privilege to receive Royal Visitors to Leicestershire, and the visit by The Earl and Countess of Wessex was no exception. Their Royal Highnesses were able to not only see how important Market Harborough has been historically, but to view the continued spirit of Market Harborough today through their visit to the 'People’s Gallery' and their engagement with the schoolchildren who came out to welcome them.”

While King John granted a royal market charter to the town of Market Harborough in 1204, the Tuesday market didn’t begin until 1221. The market was held through the centre of the town until 1993 when the indoor market, which welcomes thousands of visitors a year, was built.

The public can join in the celebrations of Harborough Indoor Market, the town’s history, and follow in the Royals' footsteps by visiting the 800th anniversary of the Royal Charter display at Harborough Museum. Find out more:  

Copies of the historic market trail leaflet will shortly be available at the Harborough Indoor Market, next to the People’s Gallery, from the reception desk on the ground floor of Harborough District Council’s offices in The Symington Building on Adam & Eve Street, and from Market Harborough library and Harborough Museum. It will also be available to download at: 

There are also market trail guided walks on Friday 10 September at 7pm and Saturday 11 September at 4pm – to book visit:  

Harborough Market is currently open Tuesday to Saturday 8am to 4pm, and on Sunday 10am to 3pm for its popular antiques market, with a monthly farmers market on the town Square on the first Thursday of the month.