The Market Place
The existing street plan originally developed around the 12th century castle built by Hugh Bigod. It was during the 12th century that the Bigod family gained permission from the king for extending the privileges of the two annual fairs in May and September. These were held in and around the Market Place, and provided entertainment as well as a wide range of goods to purchase. A weekly market was established by permission of King Richard II in 1382 and still continues on Thursdays today.
The town seems to have prospered during the late mediaeval period, probably as a result of the local weaving, tanning and river trades. The handsome structure of St. Mary’s church, and the large Guildhall opposite it, (now comprising shops and a restaurant) are indications of local wealth.