Visit Market Harborough and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Market Harborough, Leicestershire. Market Harborough was first mentioned as a place of commerce in 1203, but was created by Henry II long before especially to be a market. Visitors should make straight for the Square, a most pleasing triangular piece of townscape with the steeple of the fine church - a rare dedication to St Dionysius - forming the focal point. This church started as a “chapel of ease” to Great Bowden, about 4 miles North, which originally owned Market Harborough, so it has no protecting churchyard and looks almost Continental. The steeple is one of the finest in England, Decorated, with a tower of singular beauty covered with a broach spire and in contrast the building and interior are a little disappointing. Local tradition ascribes St Dionysius, of early l3th-century origin, to John of Gaunt, but the Decorated work is earlier and the Perpendicular later than his time. The church bells are rung every November to commemorate the rescue of a merchant lost on the Welland marshes in 1500 and the ringers receive “one shilling for beer”.
Just South of the church is the charming half-timbered and gabled old grammar school founded by Robert Smythe in 1613, which is supported on wooden pillars with a freeway beneath. Under these cool arches was once the butter market, but now both the school-children and the market women have gone. Many of the lovely old houses around the market and the High Street are now shops, but none the worse for that.
Market Harborough is famous now for its Fernie Hunt and owes much of its present prosperity to the Symington family and their red-brick Victorian factory behind the church - where liberty bodices were founded, but now concentrating on soups and groceries. It was historically important, however, as the headquarters of the Royalist army on the eve of their defeat at the Battle of Naseby in 1645. Charles I returned here twice, once in disguise to join the Scots, and again when they had failed and he was a prisoner on his way back to London.
The largest inn here, the Three Swans, was immortalized in Whyte-Melville's great Victorian hunting novel, Market Harborough, and it still has one of the most beautiful and famous wrought-iron signs in England, dating from the 18th century.
About 4 miles North of Market Harborough on the A6 and 1 mile West up the secondary road is tiny Foxton where an impressive system of ten locks conveys gaily-painted narrow boats, small barges and motor craft uphill from the Grand Junction Canal to the Market Harborough Basin. At weekends in the summer these locks are crowded with spectators helping to man the gates or just watching other people at work.
Nearby cities: Leicester, Northampton
Nearby towns: Brixworth, Corby, Kettering, Lutterworth, Rothwell, Uppingham
Nearby villages: Arthingworth, Brampton Ash, Braybrooke, Church Langton, Clipston, Desborough, East Farndon, East Langton, Gloostone, Great Bowden, Great Oxendon, Gumley, Kibworth Harcourt, Lubenham, Medbourne, Saddington, Sibbertoft, Slawston, Stoke Albany, Theddingworth, Thorpe Langton, Tur Langton
Have you decided to visit Market Harborough or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Market Harborough bed and breakfast (a Market Harborough B&B or Market Harborough b and b)
- a Market Harborough guesthouse
- a Market Harborough hotel (or motel)
- a Market Harborough self-catering establishment, or
- other Market Harborough accommodation