Spectacular Merrye Olde Market brings Gainsborough history to life

Families, locals, tourists, dancers and even a police officer from the 1850s were just some of the attendees at the Merrye Olde Market in Gainsborough last weekend.

Historic hat winner James Pringle, aged five
Historic hat winner James Pringle, aged five

The historic market – which included stalls hosted by the Old Nick Theatre, Mayflower 400, English Heritage and Gainsborough Heritage Centre – took place on Lord Street, Gainsborough.

Chairman of the West Lindsey District Council, Coun Steve England said: “It was a true delight to see so many people out exploring all the stalls and engaging with all the entertainers, stall-holders and organisers.

Sign up to our daily LincolnshireWorld Today newsletter

“Though it wasn’t the sunny summer’s day we had all hoped for, it certainly didn’t affect the turn-out and I thoroughly enjoyed my day watching medieval dancing, learning about Gainsborough and crowning James and Aros Pringle as the winners of the historic hat competition.”

The day marked the beginning of the £1.25million Townscape Heritage Initiative project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to restore and improve the historic buildings in Gainsborough town centre, with Lord Street selected as one of the streets involved in the project.

Organiser of the market and Townscape Heritage Initiative activity co-ordinator, Theresa Workman, said: “Despite the weather we met plenty of enthusiastic families and locals, all keen to learn more about their town and witness the historic entertainment on offer.

“It was great to meet so many people and I want to thank everybody involved in helping to organise a fun but ultimately (Covid) safe celebration of the town.”

Many of the stall-hosts were thrilled to be engaging with the local community again.

Andrew Birkitt, chairman of the Gainsborough Heritage Centre, said: “It was brilliant, really busy and people had lots of questions. We were quite surprised that people didn’t know we had a heritage centre or where it was.

"We can’t wait for this to happen again – even if it is only a couple of times a year it would be great.”

Medieval dance group Grantham Danserye performed to the crowds and volunteer chairman of the Old Nick Theatre, Des Kirkland, dressed as a Victorian Police Sergeant from the 1850s, and was experiencing his first outdoor event since March 2020.

Stood alongside his stall, he said: “The people are certainly taking the market very

well, there is are lots of interesting stalls and people are asking lots of questions and

that’s really good, especially now we are coming out of the Covid situation –

hopefully. People want to get out, they want to explore and they want to be

entertained and as a theatre we are hopefully part of that experience!”

Many of the families that attended the event enjoyed their day at the historic market.

Chris Foster and his wife Jess – who both live in Gainsborough – attended the event

with their two children.

Chris said: “It gave us something different to do and it has been educational for the

children to learn about the area.”

Jess added: “It is nice for families, everyone has been so friendly and approachable

and it helps to get children interested in their local area.”

With medieval dancing, music, lots of tasty food, and historic costumed characters

dotted throughout Lord Street, it was obvious why so many younger visitors had only

positive things to say about the market.

Nine-year-old Layla Paige said: “I have had a lovely day at the market, seeing

everyone dressed up. I love all the lovely people in Gainsborough.”

Seven-year-old Sam Mumby - visiting the event with his dad Mike from Saxilby –

said: “I have enjoyed writing on the graffiti wall. I have enjoyed today. I love history

and nature and I really like Steve Backshall.”

Ten-year-old Sophia Newman even dressed up for the event. She said: “It has been

really good. I loved seeing everyone dressed up and having fun.”

Nine-year-old Rhys Dobbie added: “It has been brilliant.”

The winners of the Historic Hat competition were crowned by Chairman Steven

England and Chief Executive Ian Knowles – with brothers James and Aros Pringle

crowned as the winners.

Five-year-old James and two-year-old Aros attended the event with their parents Iain

and Emily, and travelled from their home in Ingham.

James arrived at the market wearing a home-made Knights helmet while Aros

arrived wearing a pirate hat.

Aros added: “My daddy helped me make the hat.”

Mum Emily said: “It has been a really good day. We have really enjoyed it as I am a

history teacher and Ian is an archaeologist.”

For more information on the scheme – visit https://www.west-lindsey.gov.uk/my-

business/growth-and-regeneration/gainsborough-heritage-led-

regeneration/gainsborough-townscape-heritage-initiative/​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​