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56 Stow-on-the-Wold by Paintings by Norman Neasom (1915 - 2010)

Stow-on-the-Wold

Watercolour - Signed and dated 1956

Image size: 360mm x 510mm - Framed: 600mm x 730mm

Stow-on-the-Wold, originally called Stow St. Edward or Edwardstow after the town's patron saint Edward and is said to have originated as an Iron Age fort on this defensive position on a hill. Originally the small settlement was controlled by abbots from the local abbey, and when the first weekly market was set up in 1107 by Henry I, he decreed that the proceeds go to Evesham Abbey.

In 1330, Edward III set up an annual 7-day market to be held in August. This was replaced by Edward IV in 1476 with two 5-day fairs, two days before and two days after the feast of St Philip and St James in May, and similarly in October on the feast of St Edward the Confessor (the saint associated with the town). The aim of these annual fairs was to establish Stow as a place to trade, and to remedy the unpredictable passing trade. These fairs were located in the square, which is the town centre in this painting by Norman Neasom.

As the fairs grew in fame and importance the town grew more prosperous. Traders who once only dealt in livestock, now dealt in many handmade goods. Alleyways known as "tures" run between the buildings of Stow into the market square; these once were used in the herding of sheep into the square to be sold.

As the wool trade declined, people began to trade in horses, and these would be sold at every Fair. This practice still continues today, although the Fair has been relocated from the Square, and is currently held in the large field towards the village of Maugersbury every May and October. It is still a very popular Fair, with the roads around Stow being blocked for many hours on the day.

Stow played a role in the English Civil War. A number of fights took place around the area, the local church of St. Edward being damaged in one such skirmish. On 21 March 1646, the Royalists, commanded by Sir Jacob Astley, were defeated at the Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold. (text courtesy of Wikipedia)

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