Museum shares historical photos of Ely Market and its royal visitors

Ely Museum's photos of Ely Market throughout the years.

Ely Museum's photos of Ely Market throughout the years. - Credit: ELY MUSEUM

On April 9 1224, King Henry III of England granted a market to the Bishop of Ely.

Although the market was officially granted in 1224, Ely had been a centre of trade before this too, with a market believed to have begun as early as 1216.

Ely Museum's photos of Ely Market throughout the years.

Ely Museum's photos of Ely Market throughout the years. - Credit: ELY MUSEUM

King Henry III, born in 1207, became King of England aged just nine-years-old following the death of his father.

However, the country was ruled by a series of regencies until 1234.

In 1252, King Henry III, accompanied by his son, Prince Edward, visited Ely for the dedication of the church, now Ely Cathedral.

In 1252, King Henry III visited Ely with his son Prince Edward for the dedication of the church, now Ely Cathedral

In 1252, King Henry III visited Ely with his son Prince Edward for the dedication of the church, now Ely Cathedral - Credit: ELY MUSEUM

His reign was marked by strife with his barons though. Led by his brother in law, Simon de Montfort, a rebellion of barons was formed against the King’s mismanagement in 1258.

King Henry III is said to have been concerned that the Isle of Ely might be used a fortress against him and his rule.

So he ordered the Bishop and Prior at Ely to fortify the entrances to the Isle of Ely, primarily at Earith and Stuntney in 1260 which were then guarded day and night.

In November 2018, Ely Markets was visited by HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

In November 2018, Ely Markets was visited by HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. - Credit: ARCHANT

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By the end of his long reign, civil war gripped the country and those fears were realised. 

It was Edward I that later captured Ely Castle in 1267 during the final stages of the Second Barons' War.

King Henry III used ‘Letters Close’ to grant Ely it’s market, which is a type of legal document issued by a monarch or government granting a right, monopoly, title, or status to individuals using a sealed letter.

In November 2018, Ely Markets was visited by HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

In November 2018, Ely Markets was visited by HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. - Credit: ARCHANT

These letters were personal in nature, and were delivered folded and sealed using a wax seal, in this case with the King’s personal seal, so that only the recipient could read their contents.

They are different to Letters Patent which are open for all to see, as Letters Close were addressed only to specific people and were closed to all except the recipients.

Ely Markets visited by Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in November 2018

In November 2018, Ely Markets was visited by HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. - Credit: ARCHANT

In November 2018, Ely Markets was visited by HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall on their visit to Ely too.

They met local stall holders and tasted some of their excellent food available at the market.


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