Sports and celebrations in English market towns, 1660-1750

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Abstract

This article explores the recreational uses of streets and squares in the early modern market town. Late seventeenth-century financial accounts reveal civic authorities spending small sums on plebeian recreations—bonfires and bull-baitings—usually located in the market square. However, they also reveal a steady decline in municipal support for such recreations in the century following the Restoration. The author uses this evidence to argue that the early modern market place was an important communal space with a cultural significance as well as practical commercial value, and that the century following the Restoration saw the beginning of moves to clear plebeian sports and celebrations out of the public streets and confine the market place to traffic and trading.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-208
Number of pages21
JournalHistorical Research
Volume75
Issue number188
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2002

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