Today, Market Harborough is a delightful and charming market town that attracts many visitors every year. When you visit, be sure to delve into the town’s rich history and heritage as it’s had a long and illustrious past with many a tale to tell. Here is a very brief summary of the history of this lovely market town:

Market Harborough started life as a tiny Saxon village, built by tribes during the 5th to the 11th century. The name given to the village meant ‘Oats Hill’ and it first appeared in official recordings when it was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086.

Image credit

Market Harborough began to grow during the 1200s as travellers started using it as a stopping point. A small market was constructed in 1204 that would only operate on a Tuesday, but it became so popular that people turned up every day to trade, sell and exchange. For more information on Things to do in Market Harborough, visit

The village continued to grow into the 14th century and now offered services such as a blacksmiths, carpenters, butchers, brewers and bakers. Churches began to be built here as the village gradually became more of a town.

By the early 15th century, the annual festival started, giving both Market Harborough and the nearby towns and villages the opportunity to promote their wares. The wool trade took off around this time and the famous men of the wool trade in Market Harborough are mentioned in many history books.

One of the most iconic buildings in the town that still stands today is the Old Grammar School. It was built in 1614 and also served as a cavalry headquarters for the Royalists during the English Civil War in 1642.

Image credit

During the 18th century, became a thriving site for the weaving and cloth industries and enjoyed the peak of the town’s prosperity with a population reaching 1,700 by 1801.

During the 19th century, the industrial revolution really took hold and the town saw many changes, both in work life and geographical expansion. The population surged to more than 7,700 people and a canal was constructed in 1809, as well as a train station in 1850 to keep up with the changing world. Gas light arrived in Market Harborough by 1833, a proper piped water system by 1890 and the town became an urban district council in 1895.

As for the town in the 20th century, it became one of the counties fastest growing and had a population of 15,000 by 1971. In 1983, the town opened its very own museum to celebrate its history. It remains one of the best examples of a market town in the country, and well worth a visit when you come to Leicestershire.