Five of the Best Market Towns in England

Staying near a good, thriving market town is often a key factor for many families who are thinking of holidaying in the UK.

There are numerous towns that can be described as a ‘market town’ but just what is the definition of one? Life After London describe market towns as attractive towns with a well-defined centre and market square and one which holds regular, weekly markets. They will have plenty of independent shops, including cafes and restaurants, clothes shops, a hardware shop, a delicatessen, a butcher, fishmonger and green grocer.

A thriving market town will have a good community spirit and be small enough to recognise fellow residents but large enough to provide cultural entertainment, health facilities and social clubs. Rural peacefulness is often close by, but facilities including a library, a gym, a good bus service and a good cross-section of residents is also apparent.

Here is our pick of the best, based on the locations that our website visitors are looking to spend quality family time together, buying local produce, enjoying good, wholesome food and breathing clean, fresh air.

Marlborough, Wiltshire

According to ‘Your Essential Guide to Marlborough‘, Marlborough has the second widest high street in the country which regularly doubles up as a market place. There’s an extensive choice of highly individual shops as well as elegant, unique and proprietor-managed boutique establishments are thick on the ground on both sides of the High Street and off it. Most of the higher end street fashion chains are here as well.

As well as a choice of formal restaurants, you’ll also find the quintessential English tea room, pubs serving excellent and inexpensive dishes at lunch and dinner, delicatessens producing first class take-away as well as eat-in food, ethnic restaurants of all kinds and the slick, value for money High Street restaurant chains.

Sherborne, Dorset

Sherborne is, without doubt, one of the prettiest towns in England. It has an abundance of medieval buildings, a superb Abbey and two Castles. It is perfectly located on the Dorset and Somerset border and has it has excellent transport links enabling the town to flourish. Sherborne a fine centre for those wishing to explore the delightful and unspoilt Wessex area of Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Sherborne is a busy business and market centre for a wide area. It still retains small and specialist businesses and has a delightful shopping centre with a large choice of handcrafted goods and elegant fashions. It has also become an important town in the region for Art and Antique Dealers.

Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

Often referred to as the ‘walking capital’ of the cotswolds. It is so popular with walkers that there are weekly guided walks around the town every Sunday between Easter and end of october. Winchcombe Market Town is a thriving town with country values and When it comes to eating and drinking you will be spoiled for choice. Winchcombe has ‘Fair Trade’ status and has a high number of good, quality restaurants, a wine bar, pubs, tea shops and a contemporary delicatessan/coffee shop.

With a vibrant Music & Arts Festival in May/June, a Country Show in August and a Christmas Festival in December, Winchcombe also has a busy cultural and commercial schedule.

Ledbury, Herefordshire

Ledbury Market Town has so much charm and tradition to offer. It is one of the finest ‘Black and White’ towns in the country with it’s beautiful, stunning architecture. Situated on a crossroads, this vibrant town has evolved to meet the demands of moden day living but still retains its beauty and character. The Market Hall is Grade I listed and was built by John Abel in 1653 and still hosts two markets every week.

Ledbury is also proud to have its own theatre offering high quality productions and also hosts the internationally acclaimed annual Ledbury Poetry Festival in July.

Tavistock, Devon

Tavistock can best be described as unspoilt, friendly and surrounded by rolling hills. Situated in North Devon, the town is thriving with its ancient Tavistock Pannier Market which was granted its royal Charter in 1105 and is still going strong today 900 years later. Don’t miss the traditional ‘Goosey Fair’ which is held mid October every year too.