Renewing ancient Sheffield market right

Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development.
Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Development.
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With 50 days to go before it opens to shoppers, Sheffield’s new market hall is about to get the finishing touch.

But it’s not the last brick, or a window pane – it’s re-registering its ancient Royal Charter.

Granted in 1296 by Edward I, the charter gives Sheffield Council the legal right to establish and operate a market on the Castle Market site, and exclusive market rights within a six and two thirds mile radius as the crow flies.

For more than 710 years the city’s markets have had to adapt as Sheffield has grown into England’s fourth largest city.

The charter and rights passed between Lords of the Manor, starting with Thomas de Furnival, until the charter, the market buildings and all the land they stood on were bought by Sheffield Corporation in 1899.

The charter was purchased from the Duke of Norfolk for £526,000 - the equivalent of almost £55 million in today’s prices.

Now the council must re-register the charter under the Land Registration Act 2002 to retain its exclusive market rights ready for when the new market opens on The Moor on Monday, November 25.

Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for business, skills and development, said: “The days of the 1600s when you had to wait until the bell had rung before you could buy corn at the market are long gone.

“But even today the operation of markets is steeped in tradition and what may seem like a legal formality actually has a serious point.

“By registering the charter it gives our traders protection, as no-one can set up a rival market without our permission within our area if it is trading on the same day. It also gives the new Moor Market a sound footing in law.”

While the registration will be in the form of a legal document, the original Royal Charter was handwritten on a parchment scroll with a handmade wax seal.

It is in safekeeping in Sheffield Archives, with a copy on display in Castle Market.