800 years of history
Both Chelmsford and its market have been around for a long time.
Chelmsford as a settlement has been around since the Neolithic period. There is evidence of occupation in the Chelmer Valley that dates back to 2,500 BC. Chelmsford was also an important Roman town from the first to the fifth centuries AD.
It was also a Saxon settlement, which is when Chelmsford got its name. The name comes from a river crossing, which was named after a Saxon man known as Ceolmaer.
However, the Bishop of London, William de Sainte-Mère-Eglise, helped sow the seeds of modern Chelmsford. In 1199, he applied to the newly crowned King John (brother of King Richard I 'the Lionheart') for a charter. On 7 September 1199, King John granted the Bishop the right to hold a weekly market on Fridays within 'his manor of Chelmersford'.
The site of the original market was an elongated triangle. It included the open space between the High Street, Tindal Street and Tindal Square, in front of St Mary's Church (now Chelmsford Cathedral). It extended to the bottom of Springfield Road.
In medieval times, a market was very much the centre of the locality, especially as travel was limited to horses and ox-carts. Just as it is today, Chelmsford was a commercial centre for a much larger area, with traders and buyers coming from far and wide to enjoy the market and shop for bargains.