The Butter Market – Barnard Castle, England - Atlas Obscura

The Butter Market

This building was once a town hall, a fire station, a prison, a dairy market, and the target for two marksmen.  

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Officially known as the Market Cross, this building in Barnard Castle, North Yorkshire is known by locals as the Butter Market. Its construction was paid for by a local man named Thomas Breaks in 1747. The octagonal shape is topped by a bell tower and weather-vane.

The weather vane also contains two bullet holes that resulted from a shooting contest between a local volunteer militiaman, and the lord’s gamekeeper in 1803. The shots were taken from over 100 yards away. The accuracy of the shots were even more amazing given that they were fired from the doorway of the Turk’s Head Pub. 

Round the base of Market Cross is a series of columns that form a veranda. For many years, the veranda was utilized by the spouses of farmers to sell dairy products, hence the local name. The internal structural columns were also caged off during this time to form a small jail.

The lower level is open to the public, but the bell tower is locked. The bell is, however, in place and last rang to mark the funeral of a local firefighter.

Know Before You Go

Locally you are very likely to hear the town referred to as "Barney." The town is also linked to Charles Dickens, who stayed here while researching his novel, Nicholas Nickleby. Just uphill from the Butter Market is Katie's Fish and Chip shop. They serve excellent fish and chips. 

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Dr Alan P Newman
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