History

Records show that the Markets have played a central role in Island life for over 400 years and they continue to be integral to our community to this day. Their significance spans heritage, culture, and commerce and, as custodians, we must all ensure that this tradition continues for many years to come.

Timeline

Late 1500’s

A general open market was held in the Royal Square with the first recorded reference of ‘Le Marché’ being in the late 1500’s.

1796

The filthy conditions of ‘Le Marché’ become a source of so much complaint which led to the purchase of a plot of marshy ground as a new site - where Central Market sits today.

1803

The Market was completed in 1803 with an adjoining fish market. There is evidence that the cattle market also moved from the harbour site to one in close proximity.

© Société Jersiaise

1841

The fish market found a new home in Cattle St then, having been restored in 1873 & 1936, was demolished in 1973 and rebuilt as we see it today.

1882

The general Market was demolished in 1881 and the new Central Market was opened on 9th September 1882.

...the Market, which for order, arrangement and plenteous supplies is scarcely excelled in any quarter of His Majesty’s domains, is well worthy of a visit.

Official Jersey Guide, 1883
© Société Jersiaise

Late 1500’s

It is certain that a general open market was held in the Royal Square – in those days called ‘Le Marché’ – from very early times, with the first recorded reference being in the late 1500’s. Alongside the general market was an area known as ‘Halles a Viande’ – the butcher’s shambles. In the sixteenth century a corn market was housed in a wooden shed at the Town Church end of ‘Le Marché’. This flourished to the extent that a bigger and more permanent building was erected in 1668 – this building is now home to the Registrar for births, deaths and marriages – and in the same year the Square was paved.

‘Le Marché’ was, in those days, put to many other uses, amongst them being proclamations of new monarchs as well as the Court and States which were read aloud by the Viscount. On days of public rejoicing and festivals, a speech platform was used to announce good news but the Square also served a more gruesome purpose. Those who had done wrong had to endure the jeers and missiles of onlookers, as was the norm in those days, and in 1648 two witches were strangled and burnt in the market place which is a macabre twist in the tale.

 

1796

The Royal Square was so crowded on market days that it became a constant source of much complaint with congestion seriously impeding those with business in the Court House. The rolls of the Royal Court contain many references to the filthy conditions of ‘Le Marché’ and a particular complaint was of desecration to the cemetery caused by careering pigs and poultry. Eventually, in 1796 the States purchased a plot of marshy ground as a site for a new market.

1803

The new Market – built the States from the proceeds of seven lotteries – was completed in 1803 with a fish market triangle adjoining the site. There is evidence that the cattle market moved from its harbour site to one in close proximity to the general Market. There was some reluctance by the butchers to move to the new Market at first although they were eventually tempted to do so by the low rentals.

 

© Société Jersiaise

1841

The fish market and cattle market found new homes in 1841 with the latter being relocated to where Minden Place car park is now. The Fish Market was moved to its current site then, having been restored in 1873 & 1936, was demolished in 1972 and rebuilt as we see it today with the two listed entrances still remaining and covering approximately 10,000 square feet.