Market House

Market House

MH

“…near the middle of the town is a neat market-house…with an assembly-room over it, and underneath are the butchers’ shambles.” Edmund Rack, author, c 1785

Martock’s Market House stands on the site of the medieval market place at the junction of three old turnpike roads. In 1247, Martock manor was granted a weekly market by the Crown. In front of the Market House a medieval plinth still stands, on which a market cross may once have stood. The Pinnacle was built onto this base in about 1785. The market declined in the seventeenth or early eighteenth century. High prices charged by street sellers meant that by the 1750s there were calls for the market to be reinstated and for a suitable building to be provided.

The current building, made from local Ham stone, dates from between 1753 and 1787, it may have replaced an older building, all traces of which have disappeared. The Palladian classical style of its architecture is typical of this period. The arches were probably all open to allow access to the market within. By 1900, many changes had been made to the building. A new door case and a rear extension had bee added, probably not long after the Market House was built, and the arches were closed in.

Look for evidence of a major fire in the Market House. It happened in the early nineteenth century in one of the arches of the ground floor after these arches were enclosed. The causes of the fire aren’t known but the stonework in affected areas was burned to a deep red colour. The building gradually fell into disrepair and in 1954 the Goodden family sold it to Martock Parish Council for ¬£50. The building was nearly demolished but was saved thanks to local people who successfully campaigned for its restoration. Changes were made around this time, including the removal of the extension. In 1961 the Market House was given Grade 11 listing to reflect its special architectural interest. In 2008, work began on restoring the Market House again to protect the building and improve access for the local community and visitors to Martock.

It is likely that Martock’s leaders have met upstairs throughout the building’s history. Religious and political arguments meant that Nonconformist Liberals were banned from the Market House by the Conservatives in 1884. Instead they built was is currently Market Parish Hall. The Market House now provides Martock’s community office, administered by the parish council.