Castle Cary Market House

Castle Cary is our nearest market town and I thought it worth sharing his newspaper report of the opening in 1855. I have reproduced the text from an Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED downloaded from

To view a report from "The Builder"  May 10th 1856         click this LINK 

Sherborne Mercury - Tuesday 09 October 1855


The opening of the New Market House Castle Cary took place on Tuesday last, under very favourable auspices. The day, although rain was threatened in the morning, proved to be fine one; and the town, as might have been expected, was all bustle and animation. The new building is situated in the centre of the town, and is great improvement to its appearance. It is handsome structure, in the style of the fourteenth century, and. which perhaps still more to' the purpose, it will afford very convenient accommodation tor persons bringing produce for sale to the market. On the ground floor is a large open space, to be used for a corn, cheese, and general market, with butchers’ stalls behind; and over this a large room has been provided for the storage of corn and cheese. Accommodation has also been made for the literary requirements of the town. Adjoining the store room is reading room, and in connection with it, arrangement has been made which deserves imitation in other places. On market days persons will be admitted, on payment of penny, to an inspection of the papers and periodicals—an advantage which, we have no doubt will be largely appreciated, and which we hope will prove not only beneficial to those who attend the market, but remunerative to the institution which has shown so excellent an example. On the upper floor there is a spacious and handsome assembly room. 52 feet in length 22 ft. in width, with a raised platform in the back part, affording every convenience for the delivery of lectures, and the holding of public meetings. The architect is Mr. Penrose. of London, who has displayed considerable taste in the erection; and who has happily met. in Mr. Davis, the builder, a gentleman most competent to carry out his plans with success. A little work still remains to be done before the building will be completed but under the supervision of Mr. Davis it is progressing satisfactorily, and will soon be finished.

The market itself afforded excellent promise of the future. The day happened to be that of the Bridgwater and Little Elm fairs, and no doubt many dealers, and a considerable quantity of stock were thereby kept away. But notwithstanding this, the supply, if not large, was favourable, and perhaps greater than, under the circumstances, could have been expected. The general price of beef was 10s. 6d. to 11s. per score. Heifers and calves brought £13 to £14 a piece. There was fair quantity of cheese, and prices were 58s to 72s. per cwt. The best lot shown was that of Mr. Kingston, of Hornblotton, who disposed of the whole produce of his dairy, at, we understood, 72s per cwt. In the corn market wheat fetched 10s., and the best samples 10s. 3d. a bushel; new barley sold at 37s. to 38s; oats, 28s.; beans, 26s to 28s. Quarter.


was fixed to take place at two o'clock in the New Assembly Room, which was suitably decorated for the occasion, and which soon became filled to overflowing It was necessary to place tables on the platform, and accommodate as many as possible of the visitors there. Mr. Harrold, of the George, and Mr. Andrews, of the Britannia, were the caterers, the dinner being partly supplied each; and it is needless to say how well they did the duty devolving on them. Those who know Mr. Harrold will not need to be informed that both the provision and arrangements on his part were all that they should be, and the friends of Mr. Andrews will entertain as little doubt of his successful catering. The Chair was taken by Theodore Thring, Esq., and Capt Phelps, and T. Matthews, Esq., officiated as Vice-Chairmen. Among the company were the Rev. R. J. Mead. Rev. F. Grey, Rev. H. Daw, H. Shute. Esq.,C. C. Wallace, Esq.. W. Matthews, Esq , G. A. Woodward, Esq.. D. H. Ashford, Esq.. &0., &c. with large number of the principal agriculturists of the neighbourhood, and tradesmen of the town, A letter had been received in the morning, the secretary, from James Bennett, Esq.. of Cadbury House, containing his very best wishes for the success of the market, and expressing regret that illness alone, at the last moment. prevented his attendance.

The Chairman said that in every meeting of Englishmen, the first toast was "the Queen." We had long learned how to respect her in time of peace ; and now had seen her noble bearing towards her people in time of war. (Cheers ) She had seen her gallant armies forth with ;a monarch's pride and those who returned home would know with what grace she could bestow the honour due to them. She had not forgotten in the din of arms the claims of pity and tenderness, but had woman's sympathy for the wounded—a woman's tears for the fallen. (Loud cheers.)

The Chairman then proposed the health of Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, and the rest of the royal family which wag warmly responded to.

The Chairman said the next toast was " The army and Navy.'' In times of peace we were often too apt to decry the profession of arms; but, when danger was at hand we all clung to the name and the aid the British soldiers and sailors. In former times many had said that England had degenerated since the days of the Peninsula -that commerce and agriculture had damped the military spirit of the people, and luxury and education quenched the warlike fire of the soldier. To craven spirits and croaking men such as these, the Crimea had sent forth a noble reply. (Cheers). Never was a firmer front shown to the enemy, or military courage displayed amid the endurance of greater hardships. Those men, who passing through the desponding days of disease and death had withstood under canvas, thinly clothed and hardly worked, the fearful storms of Crimean winter, toiling day to day in narrow crowded trenches, with the stifling stencil and deep mud on the one hand, and the rustling bullet and bursting shell on the other, and without share in the dread onset of the fight or the glory of victory—those men might surely be said to have shown courage as great, and devotion as true as England ever saw in her sons, or a grateful country loved to honour and reward. (Loud cheers.) Had a christian spirit and christian education ruined the training of men such as these? Had it not rather given a keener edge to their courage—a finer tone to their loyalty? The letters of the private soldiers that came home —those simple, earnest and truthful annals of the camp—(a strong contrast to what was known in former times,) would live with the names of Alma. Balaklava and Inkerraan. and would tell in future times how the British soldier 1855 did his duty —how he learned to fight, to suffer and die for the honour of old England. (Loud cheers ) But whilst he dwelt on the deeds of the soldier, he must not forget our ever watchful guardians, the sailors. no wish of theirs had the Russian ships slunk under the walls of their fortresses. By no interfering of theirs the enemy sunk their ships in the harbour of Sebastopol. Had they come out. We should have seen a large portion of them at Brest and Spithead. (Much cheering) But had the navy done nothing in the present war ? Not a boom of the enemy’s gun had been heard on the high seas; much less on the shores of England. The sea defences of Odessa had been demolished ; Fort Constantine attacked, and the arsenals Sweaborg destroyed; and why should we attach less honour to this last gallant deed, because science and skill had taught our men to deal a great blow on the enemy, without entailing a corresponding loss on the allied fleets? (Cheers) He must not talk too long of the war. though he was quite sure that the hearts of all went along with him. They had met for a peaceable object, yet he might say that in the present war, the surest foundation was laid for future peace. France and England had blended their interest in one common cause - England winning the greater glory perhaps Alma and Inkerman, and France the Mamelon and Malakhoff Those ancient rivals had quenched their former animosities in one battle field, and one united shout of victory. (Cheers). Their friendship was not the mere alliance of courts and diplomatists; but it was the heartfelt respect and regard which nation gave to nation. (Loud cheers.) He was sorry that there was no Crimean officer present to return thanks for the array ; but on the part of the navy there was one who had seen service in every part of the world —his friend, Capt.Phelps—(Cheers)—and who he believed might return thanks for the army too,. having served in former wars. For the sake of the navy, he (the Chairman,) regretted that Capt. Phelps was not in the Black Sea—having been sent home invalided—to reap the honours he would there have won; but for the sake of the meeting, he rejoiced because they had him here as a specimen of what good stuff sailors were made of. (Cheers.) He could tell them what the sailors had done, and what they were ever ready to do when England called for their services. (Loud cheers.)

Capt. Phelps. in returning thanks for the branch of the service to which he belonged, said he had a great deal rather be where his comrades were. (Cheers.) He fought at Odessa, and was glad that he was there; and although he was now here returning thanks, he might shortly. if it was the will of her Majesty. be carrying on the British flag with honour. (Loud cheers.)

The Chairman then proposed “The health of the Bishop and clergy of the diocese." He congratulated the county of Somerset on having at last a real bishop among them — a working man, and a very kind hearted one. He was glad to have such man in the county, and he was also glad to see so many of his friends of the clergy present to support him. It showed that they considered their own interests and those of their parishioners identical. He should couple with the toast the name of Mr. Mead as vicar the parish. When a stranger came into the town and saw the beautiful parish church, which was at once the admiration of the neighbourhood, and ornament of the town, he might naturally ask whom they had to thank for its restoration The answer was Mr. Mead. (Cheers.) had also done a great deal for the town, and they well knew with what success he had watched over and promoted its interests. (Cheers.)

The Rev.R J. Mead said he could not but perceive in the compliment that had been paid to the Bishop and Clergy, the respect which was borne to the office which, under God's Providence, they held; and he also accepted it is an acknowledgement that the clergy were most deeply and truly interested in the prosperity of the country. He congratulated the agricultural interest of the neighbourhood on having premises provided where they might conveniently transact their business; and his fellow townsmen on having a building which greatly contributed to ornament the town, and would he hoped also contribute to its prosperity. (Cheers) The rev gentleman then proposed the health of Mr. Hobhouse. of Hadspen. the Chairman of the Directors of the Market Company, and of the Directors in general.

The Chairman, in returning thanks on behalf of the Board, expressed his regret that Mr. Hobhouse was not present to preside; but they all knew the cause of big absence, and sympathised with him in his sorrow. In the progress of the undertaking, his business-like habits, constant attention and general courtesy had greatly contributed to its success. On behalf of the directors, he might say that during the time they worked together, they had been most united board. He did not mean a unanimous board—(a laugh) —because it would be contrary almost to human nature —certainly to English nature, if everyone agreed on the same subjects: but on the occasions when there had been difference of opinion. the minority had always deferred to the wishes and vote? of the majority, and had given their best energies, with the same cordial good will to carry out those measures which were carried against them, as if they had been the measures that they had most at heart. He was asked not very long ago, but he was bound to say that it was not by an inhabitant of that town or resident of that neighbourhood, why they had built a new market-house at Castle Cary, and founded a new market? His reply was very easy. He said that they were not, like many gentlemen in other towns, building a market house to fish for a market—that they did not aspire to lead public of pinion. but were merely following in its wake. The farmers and dealers of the neighbourhood had already made that town the centre of one of the best cattle markets in the district; and they were only providing accommodation for the increased requirements of the market in erecting a new building. That market was no creature of interest. It was not propped by the land owners, or petted by the towns people. or nursed merely by the farmers of the adjacent country. For many years the Castle Cary market had dwindled away, and become almost nonentity ; but the farmers and dealers found it good situation for a market, and they had made it, within the last few years, one of the best in the district They had made the market themselves. (Cheers ) But those who fed cattle also grew corn and made butter and cheese, and they liked to carry their produce to the same centre. The corn market had not been started in any spirit of jealousy, or in a hostile feeling towards any other town, but merely in the spirit of free competition, to provide for the wants of those farmers who actually attended the cattle market. (Cheers). The company was also alive to the consideration that a railway—long enough proposed. he was sorry to say— would pass through the district; and if the name of the Great Western had not become a bye-word for broken promises—he should have hoped to see some gentlemen coming to the town by railway that day. But sure it was that it must be opened in short time, and the coming of the railway would naturally bring great facilities for dealers from all parts of the country to attend, and for the removal of the product bought. He saw an earnest of what the market would be, in the number who attended that day. and the produce that had been displayed below. They need not be afraid, if they brought produce, to find a plenty of buyers in a rising market, for dealers would come wherever produce was exposed for sale. It might be little inconvenient them for the next month or two. but with spring would come the railway, and with it Castle Cary would be found to be the best centre and most convenient mart both for farmers and dealers of all the adjoining district. With the prospect of such a market before them, what had the directors done to provide accommodation? Below they had raised an arcade where corn might be pitched ; and it was as light as the most anxious inspector of a market could desire. There was a space behind for general market purposes, into which it might be necessary to throw more light upon some future occasion. If he were a butcher, there was raised platform where he might dispose his meat, in the best possible point of view for those who desired to buy. It was difficult, having selected a site in the centre of the town, where space was of course valuable, to put as much as possible into so small a space ; but with the addition of a little greater height to the building, there had been provided what he thought the farmers would say were very good stalls. proof against their great enemies dirt and dung. But there was also a public room well calculated for meetings, and no one could rejoice more than he did to see it then so well filled. (Cheers.) There had been no forcing—no invitations were sent out; but those gentlemen who attended had assisted him in the endeavour to get the fullest possible room at the opening of the market. In addition to the assembly room there was a reading room- Now education—popular education especially —was one of those subjects which was always most worthy the attention of the statesman and the citizen, had become one of the most popular topics of the platform orator. They need fear no declamatory speech from him ; for he was not one of those who thought that mere Mechanics' Institutes, and the opening of reading rooms would at once enlighten the inhabitants of town; but, there was a great real practical use that reading rooms were calculated to be of. Every one in the present day wished to be abreast with the current the times, and to know the history of what passed in own days. Who was there that had not friends at the war, and would read the public journals to learn about them? Who was there that had no interest in reading them —the capitalist in the price of the funds—the tradesman in the circular prices—the farmer in the rise of the markets; and where were they to find all these but in the public papers? He might add, with regard to the townsmen, that the addition of lectures was calculated to do a great deal of good Lectures were not only of use to the lectured but also a means of instruction to the lecturer. They tended to make him better acquainted with his subject —and enabled him better to condense it. when required, or point the moral where one was to found. They were a great advantage to the lectured and were a source of agreeable amusement on winter's evening. He hoped that his friend, Mr. Mead, would be well supported in the new reading room as he had been in the last. (Cheers.) This might perhaps be said to be a subject rather for the townspeople than for the farmers; but for them it was proposed to lay the newspapers and books on the table of that room on every market day. and to admit those who attended the market, on payment of a penny at the doors. He had now told them what had been done but as representing the Board of directors, he was not afraid to make clean breast of it. and tell at what expense they had done it. They had been able to purchase the site and provide the accommodation which the meeting had seen ; and when all the charges were paid the total cost would be under the sum of £3000 (Cheers ) He believed that in no other town in the neighbourhood had an equally convenient building been erected at so small an expense. It would be observed, on inspecting the list of shareholders, that the landowners' of the neighbourhood, with very few exceptions (and those exceptions would readily occur to every one) had done their duty in promoting the undertaking; and they would find the names of the principal townspeople and great many farmers. But still, like many another public company, there were a few more shares to be taken—and but a few. He should ask some of those gentlemen who had attended that day— not to take large amount of shares —but take a single one each, which would enable the company to start free from any debt whatever—more than could be said of most public undertakings. (Cheers) But they might reasonably ask what were the prospects of the shareholders. The charges of the market had been based upon the best possible financial principle—that of making very low charges in the hope of getting great deal of custom. For corn, the same rates had been adopted as were taken at Shepton Mallet, without similar accommodation. The only alteration was that, instead of paying a shilling for unloading every waggon, there would be a shilling on every first sack pitched in the market, and nothing for unloading. The object was that all who brought corn to the market might pay, and that they might not charge the gentleman who came from a distance for unloading waggon, while, as he was informed was the case at Shepton, those who lived close by pitched their sacks for nothing. In the other charges the Company had been guided those of the Highbridge market had had an interview with the hon secretary of that market, which was well known to be a very successful one ; and that gentleman told him that charges had been fixed upon that were considered quite a nominal rent, in order to ensure a large supply. The Company adopted the same charges, because they were quite assured that low rates and ample custom would bring in very good dividend. (Cheers ). He did not take the opening day altogether as a guide; but when he looked on the number of gentlemen there were around him, he was quite sure that there need be no fear, either for those who attended the market, or who took shares in the company. (Cheers.) The hon. and learned gentleman then concluded by proposing the health of “Sir Hugh Hoare, the Lord of the Manor Castle Cary ."who, he said, had rendered every assistance to the undertaking. (Cheers.)

Mr. King, of Manor Farm, was called on to respond and stated that Sir Hugh had not only contributed towards the market but given up his claim to toll. He had also assisted In the restoring of their beautiful church, towards which he gave nearly £200 and from what (Mr. King) had heard him say he believed it would always be pleasure to him to do anything in his power to promote the interests of the town. (Cheers).

The Chairman proposed " the health of the agriculturists who support, and intend to support the market." No one who had known the neighbourhood long could pass through it without seeing that great agricultural improvements had taken place. There were better draining, better corn, more cows kept for cheese, fewer weeds, better hedges, better instruments and better cultivation in every respect, and all this was due to the improving agriculturists many of whom he saw around him. The hon. gentleman coupled with the toast the names of Mr. Shute. Mr. Lush and Mr. Young, of Yarlington, as representing the districts which they resided.

H. Shute, Esq , said there was an old proverb in Latin which he should not repeat because would not be understood—(laughter,) —but the plain English of it " he gives twice who gives quickly." He might apply this to himself, rising thus early to return thanks for the honour that had been done to him and his brother farmers. He little expected to meet in that large and elegant room such an assembly as he now saw; and yet. when he considered the character and respectability of the farmers of the neighbourhood, there appeared no reason why it should not expected. He thought he might safely say, after seeing that building, and hearing what he had heard today, that both his own face and his sample would often be seen in the Castle Cary Market. (Cheers). He believed there was every reason —and he wished to do no disparagement to any market in his own immediate vicinity —to expect, that with the excellent roads there were, and the extraordinary facilities for disposing of corn and other produce which the railway would afford. Castle Cary would become distinguished place among the towns of the neighbourhood. With regard to improvements in farming, he could not help thinking that his excellent friend (the Chairman) while he had been rising in his profession rapidly, which he could not do without a great deal of study of Coke and Littleton and other books, must also have turned over with good effect the leaves cf Stevens's Book of Farm" (Laughter and cheers) He had given them a lesson to day by which they ought to profit; and he hoped they would remember that the fewer weeds there were in their parcels, the more creditable it would be to them. (Cheers). ,

Mr. Hawkins of Yarlington, in the absence of the other gentlemen who were named by the Chairman, who had left the room. also returned thanks.

The Chairman then proposed " the town and trade of Castle calling upon Mr. Grey to return thanks for the resident gentlemen; Mr. Matthews for the manufacturers, and Mr. Buncombe for the tradesmen.

The Rev. F. Grey responded, expressing briefly the great interest he felt in all matters connected with the town, and his earnest wish for the prosperity of the market.

Mr Matthews and Mr. Buncombe also briefly returned thanks.

The next toast was "the health of the honorary secretary. Mr. Russ," proposed by the Rev. F. Grey, who highly praised the valuable services rendered by that gentleman during the time the work had been in progress.

Mr. Russ said that the company had done him too much honour in thus acknowledging the very trifling services which he had been enabled to render. lt would have been out of his power to have done anything towards raising that handsome building, or to have been of any service to the town, if it had not been for the assistance he had received. No one ever had the pleasure or honour of working with parties who were more ready to set their shoulders to the wheel. Gentlemen had attended not merely to see what was going on, and get the credit of a good work, but they had come ready furnished with the law of the subject. And it was not a trifle that was necessary for this purpose, he could assure them. He hoped that notice would be taken of the sums in which undertakings of this kind were mulcted. There were now two companies established for the benefit of the town, (the Market Company and the Gas Company). and he hoped that both of them would prove successful; but he did not think they ought to be taxed as they were. There bad been no less a sum than £87 odd paid for costs connected with this undertaking ; and he would engage to say that for the Gas Works there was not less ; and this had nothing to do with the conveyance of the sites, or anything of the sort; but was merely for the registration. Mr Russ than paid compliment to the chairman of the Board of Directors, observing that gentleman so much good temper and kindness he had seldom met with; but it was not only the gentlemen of the neighbourhood who had taken an interest in the undertaking. but also the ladies. (Cheers). There was one lady who, more than any one he knew had entered into the undertaking, and who with her pencil had sketched very nearly the present building He referred to Mrs. Thing, whose health he begged to propose. (Cheers).

The Chairman briefly acknowledged the toast, and proposed" the health of the architect (Mr. Penrose) and the builder. (Mr. Davis)” Great credit he said, was due for the ingenuity which had been displayed in adapting the building to a difficult site had heard fault found with it; but although peculiar in its character he believed it was perfectly true to the style of architecture to which it belonged. No work could be carried out without good builder, and in this instance every thing had been executed well. Perhaps Mr. Davis had been somewhat dilatory in finishing the work ; but he hoped he would be able to make good defence for not completing it earlier. (Cheers).

Mr. Davis, said that he hoped the execution of the work would be found satisfactory. It was sometimes the case that too much haste was the worst speed, and when completed he trusted they would have no reason to find fault with the builder, or retract the compliment they bad paid him. (Cheers).

The Chairman, in proposing " the Press” took occasion to find fault with the criticising of “General Journalism." on the proceedings of the war. He complained that the license of a land of freedom and the privilege of Englishmen to grumble were too much made use of; and, in reference to the comments made on the attack on the Redan, he remarked on the difference in the distance the French and had to go; and contended that, if reserves had been sent out, might only have been to be slaughtered. (Cheers).

The toast wag duly acknowledged.

The Chairman the healths of those who had contributed towards tbe market, and market house, to which

Mr. Penrose, the architect, who had just entered the room, responded. This was the last toast; and the Chairman soon afterwards left the room. The vacant post was taken by Capt. Phelps, under whose presidency a convivial evening was spent.

Several glees were sung in the course of the afternoon The singers were, from some misarrangement, late in their attendance, but when they did come, they contributed much to the gratification the company.