Historic Timeline

  1312-1377 Reign of Edward lll - Law passed to prohibit markets and fairs from being held in churchyards. Markets moved to adjacent sites.
1558-1603 Reign of Elizabeth l - Charter granted for a weekly market in St Austell.
Circa 1638 Reign of Charles l - St Austell granted a Friday market.
1661 The weekly Friday markets and 2 fairs (on St Andrew's Day and the Thursday in Whitsun week) were granted to Oliver Sawle, Esq and Henry Carlyon, Gent. to collect tolls in trust for the poor of St Austell.
  1685 William Hals compiled a History of Cornwall. He speaks of a third fair on Palm Sunday, saying "The market was a considerable one, wherein were vended all commodities necessary for the life of man.
Circa 1791 Records show a small market building stood near this site. It had space only to sell corn, potatoes, dairy goods and meat inside. White fish and vegetables were sold outside.  
1804 St Austell population only 1400 (22,658 in 2011). However, the discovery of China Clay in the 1700s, with the highest grade in the world, was to change the town's fortunes. 'The Parochial Hostory of Cornwall records: It (st Austell) is now a considerable market for corn as well as other articles"
  1842 Act of parliament was given Royal Assent by Queen Victoria to permit the people of St Austell to build a new Market House. Commissioners were appointed to regulate the public markets.
  24th April 1843 Charles Brune Sawle Esq of Penrice House laid the first stone of the new Market House and Town Hall.
  1844 At cost of £7000.00 the Market House building was completed. The 24 market commissioners deemed that there was no more street trading in St Austell. The meat market and butchers' stalls were on the centre of the ground floor and occassional live animals on display in the alcoves around the walls. The main entrance was pimarily for farm produce and on the first floor there were long benches for the farmer's wives to sell eggs, poultry, butter and jams.  
  1847 The Town Hall, situated in the first floor of the Market House was the headquarters for the magistrates and constables during the Bread Riots - Clay and Tin miners marched into town on market day to protest at the rising cost of foodstuffs at a time of famine in Cornwall.  
1914-1918 During the First World War the Butcher's market was closed and the large room on the first floor used as the Town Hall was converted to a cinema seating 300 - 400 people.  
Before the Second World War St Austell was a busy market town. On Tuesdays farmers came to town to attend the cattle market often accompanied by their wives who spent the day shopping. Friday was market day and local farmers brought their produce into the Market House to sell. Local shops stayed open from 8am until 7pm.
2007-2008 To secure the financial viability of St Austell Market and the preservation of this Grade 2 listed building, a private bill to Parliament was required to repel the outdated and restrictive, in scope, Act of 1842. The Market House is now the St Austell Market House CIC (Community Interest Company) run by a volunteer board of directors.