Introduction to Market Street
GENERAL BACKGROUND AND INTRODUCTION TO MARKET STREET
This information is based on the original Abergavenny Local History Society Survey 1980.
This is one of the main west-east routes dividing the planned late Norman 13th century town into its typical regular blocks. Market Street now runs from the wide north end of Cross Street, where the early Market House once stood in the middle of the road, to Lion Street.
In a deed of 1616 it is merely referred to as ‘the lane leading from the High Crosse towards Kebie’ and appears on early sketch maps as Little Lane. On the 1800 map the track goes only as far as the Cibi or Kibby Brook, which then ran below the town wall into gardens. By 1834, Lion Street had been developed and a narrow lane, called Traitor Lane, is shown on the map connecting to it. Legend has it that Owain Glyndŵr was let into the town in 1404 through a gateway here – probably a sally-port in the town wall for women to access the water in the Cibi Brook. He attacked the castle and devastated part of the town and the name, Traitor Lane, is derived from this story. Later Henry VIII instructed the town burgesses to bring about long-delayed restoration work after this event. The lane joined Lion Street at the site of the Bethany Chapel which at that time, and until the new chapel was built in 1882, occupied both its present site and that of the Farmers Arms.
In 1862, when Facey’s Brewery came to the empty site between the Chapel and the Market Hall, they diverted the Cibby Brook to its present position, and the lane must have become more important. By 1881 it is known as Market Street, perhaps because it linked the new Market Hall off Cross Street with the new Cattle Market, opened 1865.
The row of houses on the North side of the street opposite the Town Hall give a good picture of how Abergavenny probably looked until the rebuilding of the 1700s and removal of the overhanging upper storeys ordered by the Town Commissioners from 1795 onwards. They are the only houses in the town with overhanging upper storeys supported on what are now iron posts, replacing the original wooden ones, although many other houses retain other features of this time, hidden under later frontages. The raised walkway to one side is also original and it was a common feature in towns to raise up the walkway from the horse and animal droppings in the road.
Note: the North side only of Market Street is numbered in odd numbers, east to west.