There are weekly Markets held throughout West
Norfolk, normal opening times are from 8.00 am until 3.00 pm.
Markets in West Norfolk
King's Lynn Markets
Tuesdays and Fridays held on the Tuesday Market Place
and Saturdays held on the Saturday Market Place.
Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays held on the Southend Car
Park, Le Strange Terrace adjacent to the sea front.
Downham Market Markets
Fridays and Saturdays held on the Town Hall Car Park.
Depending on availability commodities on the markets may
fruit and vegetables, fresh fish and shellfish, eggs,
sweets, cakes, pies, pastries, drinks, snack-bar, pet food and
accessories, cut flowers, plants, shrubs, £1 lines, handbags and
luggage, tools, greetings cards, books, watches, batteries and
ladies, gentleman and children’s clothing.
History of Markets in West Norfolk
Records suggest that there was a market taking place in King's
Lynn long before proper records were kept. The oldest recorded
instance of a market is to a "Sand Market" held on the Saturday
Market Place in 1104. The first "Charter Market" is mentioned in a
Charter from King John dated 6th September 1205. This
Charter permitted the people of Lynn to tax some services and keep
the revenue for themselves rather than paying it to the King. The
taxes were levied in respect of the use of roads by strangers,
shipping of merchandise along the river, use of bridges and, of
course, a tax on the setting up of a stall at fairs and markets. It
is not clear where the market would have been held although it is
likely that the Saturday Market Place would have been the obvious
All would have been fine until, during the reign of Henry III,
a group of men from Lynn joined rebellious Barons against Henry.
There was a battle at Littleport, at which the King was victorious.
By way of punishment the King took away the Charter rights granted
by King John, and just for good measure, burnt 22 tenant farms on
the outskirts of Lynn.
In 1268 King Henry gave the Charter back to Lynn and in
addition gave the town permission to elect its own Mayor as well as
permitting foreign merchants to attend Lynn Fair and sell their
wares. As an added inducement, the new Charter guaranteed the
foreign merchants' safety and further guaranteed that any goods
lost due to fighting would be paid for by the Town.
Nothing much seemed to have happened to the markets until in
1435, a licence was granted to the Town to use the piece of land
next to St. Margaret's Church for a market (the present day
Saturday Market). The licence runs for 999 years! It is not clear
whether this licence was merely a means to formalise an existing
On 7th July 1529, Henry VIII granted a further
Charter to the Town. So far as markets were concerned it permitted
the Town to hold two markets each week. This is likely to be the
origin of the Tuesday Market.
From the medieval period both market places were marked out
with rails and had semi-permanent stalls or shops which were leased
out on a temporary basis to food retailers and other visiting
traders. In the Saturday Market Place there were butchers' shambles
crowded against the north side of St. Margaret's Church until the
19th century and in the 15th century the
street front opposite was known as Butchers' Row because of the
concentration of butchers' shops there. As the Saturday Market
Place is a relatively small area the market gradually encroached on
the adjacent street of Damgate (now High Street) until it was
expelled in the late 18th century. A feature of the
Tuesday Market Place towards its northern end was a market cross
with shambles and shops around it. The last of the successive
structures on this site was an ornate cross designed by Henry Bell
and build in 1710. In 1831 on the site of the present Corn
Exchange, which replaced it in 1854.
Some 322 years after Henry VIII's Charter (in 1981) the
Borough Council established a Thursday Market in the Corn Exchange.
This was subsequently changed to Friday because of previous
bookings on Thursdays. By chance, one particular Friday the Corn
Exchange was not available and the market was held outside on the
Tuesday Market Place. The market proved so successful that its
existence was formalised by the Council under the Food and Drugs
Act of 1955.
Present Day Markets
We have therefore three weekly markets in King's Lynn, two
established by Royal Charter and one by present day
There are spaces available for 82 stalls on the Tuesday
Market, 37 on the Friday Market and 26 on the Saturday
All stallages paid by the traders are used to off-set the
Council Tax. Most of the traders come from Norfolk towns and
villages, however some are from Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and
places further afar such as Leicestershire, Yorkshire,
Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Essex.
There are also two Hunstanton Markets one on a Sunday and one
on Bank Holiday Mondays. Both are held on the Southend Car
Park on the seafront. Both have been in existence for a number
of years and as Hunstanton is a seaside resort larger markets
operate during the summer months with about 40 stalls, leaving 24
permanent traders to work the winter months on the Sunday
Our records show Downham Market has been in existence since
September 1887, started by a market company, which went into
liquidation in 1937. Downham Urban Town Council then took over the
running of it until 1974 at which time the Borough Council looked
after the market on their behalf. In 2001 the Town Council once
again took over and continue to run the market now. The market
operates on a Friday and Saturday and held on the Town Hall car
park. There are 13 stalls on a Friday and 11 traders on the
For further information contact:
The Markets Department
The Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk
Telephone: 01553 616202
Fax: 01553 819760
Interested in other markets in the area?