Fairs and Markets

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Forward thinking farmers

From ground-breaking thinkers to global campaigners, local people have been revolutionising farming for hundreds of years.

Since prehistoric times until the modern day, local life has centred around farming. Sheep and cattle provided the town with cloth and leather industries. During the school holidays children helped with the hop harvest, which brought in over £1 million per year in today’s money.  

Hundreds of years of practice put Petersfield at the cutting edge of the farming industry. In the 1600s, John Worlidge of Petersfield wrote the first comprehensive farming manual and designed the first machine for planting seeds. Compassion in World Farming began in a small office in Petersfield in 1967. Today, they are the leading voice in the worldwide campaign to improve farm animal welfare.

Did you know?

Have you tried Jerusalem artichoke? John Goodyer introduced the vegetable to English cooks. While living in Buriton, he studied many plants and became one of Britain’s greatest botanists. In 1664, his will set up a charity to help educate poor children.

Fairs and Markets 

Petersfield was founded as a market town. 900 years later, the town still holds a market on its original site.

When shopping on the High Street, or buying fruit at the market, we are treading ground laid out by the Norman founders of Petersfield. The town was set up specifically for traders, with a market square and long street where they could live, grow food and operate a workshop.

The first traders sold their wares from small wooden buildings called ‘shambles’. Animals were sold in the High Street until 1780, when the livestock market replaced the few remaining shambles in the Square. This continued until 1962, when health regulations put a stop to animal sales. Today a variety of stalls fill the Square on market days, as they did centuries ago.

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Medieval fairs were large markets with food and entertainment. Petersfield had two: one in June and another in November. A new animal fair was established in 1820, now known as the Taro Fair. Taro comes from the Welsh ‘tarw’ meaning bull.

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Systema Agriculturæ by John Worlidge, first edition, 1669

Over 350 years old, this book was the first large-scale manual on farming. For over 50 years, it was the standard textbook on the subject. John Worlidge lived between Petersfield High Street and the Heath with a large garden in which he could trial his ideas.


Hop pocket, 1960s

Nearly 300 hop pickers worked on Major Rose’s Buriton Estate in the mid-1900s. The harvested hops were dried and stored in large hop pockets like this one. They were marked with the grower, number, parish, date and county emblem which, for Hampshire, was one or three bells.


Bull tongs

Bull tongs closed tightly on the nose and were used to control cattle for short periods, for example when giving medicine.


Sheep shears


Milk churn, inscribed ‘T Amey Petersfield’

Thomas Amey was a dairy farmer who went on to build the Borough Brewery, Petersfield. 


Corn measure


Used to signal the beginning of trading at Petersfield cattle market.

George Money rang the bell at the last cattle market in Petersfield in 1962. He was a market drover, whose job it was to round up the cattle for auction.


Shepherd’s crook
Said to have been used by the last shepherd on Butser Hill.


Gardener’s smock, late 1800s

For rural workers across the midlands and south of England, the smock was a flexible and hard-wearing garment. Unlike most workers’ smocks, this one is decorated with flowers, leaves and trees. It might have been worn as Sunday best, or even at a wedding.


Plaque taken from Buriton Hop Kilns

In 1892, Alfred Hetherington of Alton came up with a new method of drying hops. The fresh hops were to be laid on a fabric floor, which was installed in the Buriton Hop Kilns.


Farmworker’s lunch basket