Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kings and Stony Stratford - 2 King Richard I

King Richard I made his reputation as a warrior king and sat on the English throne for 10 years. This is not literally correct. He was King of England, as well as being Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou and Duke of Brittany. England was of less significance to Richard and during his whole reign he spent less than 6 months in the country. The governance of England was left in the hands of deputies who turned out to be very good adminstrators. While Richard was away looking after his territories in France or on a Crusade or locked in an Austrian castle the kingdom of England was seemingly well governed.

It was during his reign that Stony Stratford came of age. Up till then it had been a growing collection of inns and dwellings on the Wolverton side and the Calverton side to service travellers. However in 1194, under King Richard's seal, Stony Stratford was given the right to hold a market - a much-prized licece in those days as it allowed  community to grow economically.

The first charter was issued to Gilbert Basset and his wife Egelina on 30 April 1194 and this charter was confirmed with the king's seal on 20 January 1199 for a Sunday market at their manor of Stratford. (my italics)

This would appear to suggest that part of the Wolverton manor had been sold off at an earlier date. Later references to a third manor between Wolverton and Calverton might associate this land with The Mallets, as it was later called in the 16th century. At any rate this appears to be the beginning of Stony Stratford as an entity. The grant was confirmed by King John on 21 Mar 1200.

These years marked the beginning of a transition from an entirely rural economy to an economy which included commercial centres - subsquently known as towns or market towns. King John in particular encouraged the growth of new market towns, largely because he was able to see the tax-gathering potential in such a move. Liverpool, for example, was his own personal creation on his own land. There were great attractions to these new towns for those who wished to free themselves of the bondage of being tied to the land. From this point Stony Stratford begins to grow as a commercial entity and starts to outstrip both Calverton and Wolverton in population.

Two generations later the Earl of Oxford, who owned the Calverton Manor, muscled in on the market business and obtained a charter for an annual fair on 15 September 1257. Later he acquired 40 acres on the Wolverton side around the church of St Mary Magdalene and received a second charter on 1 June 1290 for an annual fair. it is probable that this land was also The Mallets.

In time the fairs shifted to the Calverton side, obviously in the Market Square and Horse Fair Green, but also at Cow Fair in between - now known as Silver Street.


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