Watching the Mummers in Wantage Market Place on Boxing day reminded me about one of the groups of volunteers which help us to get through the humdrum of day to day life and this is “Wantage Presents Music in the Market Place”.
If you come into Wantage Market Place on Saturday mornings from May to September, when the Market is operating, you might have heard the music coming from the corner behind the buses near the Bear Hotel.
This tradition was started 10 years ago by Howard Hill and friends and consists of a range of performers cheering up our Saturdays and obtaining donations to charities for their hard work.
2018 groups included Shady Grove String Band, Quintessence (Cappella barber shop group), Rose Hips Belly Dancers, Pandemonium, Wantage Community Church, Whoosya, St Denys’ Handbell Ringers, Hendred Ukulele Group, Post Office Strummers, Ashna Tribal, Flower of the Quern, Al Jenkins, Brian Staton, Vale Islanders (17th century music, costume and dance), White Horse Folk Festival, Brian and David, the KIVA Band and the Songbirds.
The charities who have benefited last year include; Team Mikayla, Air Ambulance, Riverside Counselling Service, Street Pastors, Dementia UK, The Friends of Grove Library, Marie Curie, Fitzwaryn School and Save Wantage Hospital.
The right to hold a market in Wantage was promoted to Henry III by the Fitz Warin’s in 1216.
The market was mentioned in 1284, when various stalls were removed because they had so narrowed the highway that carts couldn’t pass (we have a similar problem with buses today).
Fulk Fitz Warin received permission to re-erect them from Edward I in the following year.
Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary for 1831 states that the Market on Saturday was chiefly for corn and also for pigs and cattle. It also said that Fairs were held on the first Saturdays in March and May for cattle, July 18th for cherries, and for cheese on the first Saturday of every month.
Fairs usually had more entertainment than a standard market.
Wednesday markets were added later in the nineteenth century.
Wantage now has markets every Wednesday and Saturday except when there is a special event or a funfair.
The Farmer's Market attend on the last Saturday of the month, and continental markets (French or Italian) take place a couple of times each year.
Wantage Presents add to the fun in summer and raises money for charity, please support them when they return in May.