In this second week looking at the local history book The Making of Basingstoke by Eric Stokes we travel to the recorded details of trades in the 15th century. The book divides these into five sections:

1. Bakers, Brewers, Butchers, Fishmongers, Grocers and Millers.

2. Drapers, Dyers, Haberdashers, Mercers (dealers in textiles), Hosiers and Shoemakers.

3. Braziers (worker in brass), Carpenters, Coopers (barrel makers), Curriers (leather workers), Dubbers (leather or cloth worker), Fullers (the cleansers of cloth), Ironmongers, Joiners, Saddlers, Smiths, Tanners and Tilers.

4. Tapsters (barmen), Chandlers (sellers of household items), Innkeepers and Labourers.

5. Barbers, Capmakers, Fletchers (arrow makers), Glovers, Masons, Tailors and Weavers.

Like today, not all traders were honest. Court records show that those dealing with alcohol seemed to have been the ones to breach the law the most.

The price of ale was regulated by the price of Barley at the time but there were numerous times when this was not adhered to and the roll of the November 17, 1464 shows that 17 brewers had broken the law, and 10 tapsters had done so ‘by cups and other measures less than the standard of the Lord King’.

It’s interesting to note that in that year there was an ale-conner mentioned whose job it was to taste the ale for it’s quality!

Bakers were also shown to break the law in making loaves too small, braziers were selling copper as well as brass, the tanner, joiner and fishmonger selling at inflated prices.

Mention is also made of the re-grator who bought up entire stocks of fish, butter, eggs and cheese in order to ‘corner the market’ and push up the prices.

In 1622 under the reign of James I a charter was drawn up to allow anyone from the general public to attend the market and trade their goods and livestock with a small charge to cover the costs.

‘Pie-powder courts’ were created to deal swiftly with disputes, thefts and acts of violence between market traders, thus avoiding long drawn-out court cases.

Penalties could result in the offender being locked in a pillory or drawn in a tumbrel (a two-wheel cart) around the town to shame the occupant.

In a more severe case his property could be sold to cover the penalties imposed.

Eventually the Basingstoke market grew in size with stalls and the tethering of horses causing obstruction in Ote Street (now Wote Street) and becoming a hazard to passers-by. In due course the decision was made to separate the livestock market and move it to another venue.

Part three next week looks at the Typhoid epidemic of 1905.