John Ryland map showing "Edgecroft" (Agecroft Hall) and the market towns of Manchester (South West), Bolton (North East),, Bury (South East), and Altrincham (West).
Bolton Market Cross. Courtesy of geograph.co.uk.
The market town of Bolton lay about 6 miles from Agecroft Hall. Beginning as a small village in the Middle Ages, Bolton grew larger and more important. Bolton was made into a town and given a charter in 1251. The Bolton fair was a yearly event. It lasted 2-3 days and people would come from all over Lancashire to sell their goods. In the Middle Ages, there was a wool manufacturing industry in Bolton.
In 1516, Bolton Grammar School was founded and by the 17th century there was a cotton weaving industry in Bolton. By the mid 17th century, Bolton was described as “a fair, well-built town with broad streets. It has a market on Mondays which is very good for clothing and provisions and is a place of great trade for faustians.” Though greatly affected by outbreaks of plague and smallpox in the 17th century, Bolton always recovered.
Bury Marketplace. Courtesy of greatbritishlife.co.uk
Within about 4.5 miles of Agecroft Hall sat the market town of Bury. The town received its Royal Charter in the 1440’s, and the original market included farm produce, livestock and woven goods as well as fish, which were laid out on the stone steps of the market cross in the 16th century.
The market cross was a meeting place for townspeople and the spot from which public announcements and demonstrations were made. Marriage announcements were published from it on three successive market days.
Altrincham Market Cross. Courtesy of www.toms-travels.net.
The market town of Altrincham was 7.5 miles from Agecroft Hall, and was established as a market town in 1290. Its charter document is the earliest documented reference to the town. It is possible that the town was established to generate income through taxes on trade and tolls. A planned market town would have been unusual for the Middle Ages, however Altrincham had good access to roads and was, thus, a good place to plant a market. Altrincham fair became St. James’s Fair in 1319, and by 1348 the town had 120 burgage plots.
As we can see from the examples above, the market towns available to the residents of Agecroft Hall were easily accessible and varied in size and product availability. The Daunteseys would not have had to travel far to acquire the things they needed from retailers and craftsmen.
I imagine that attending a market or a fair was a welcome relief from the daily chores and tasks that were required to keep Agecroft running and prosperous. In a rural area like Salford Hundred, an opportunity to hear the latest news, perhaps glimpse some new fashions, and meet up with friends would be a wonderful way to spend a day. Though tiring, a trip to town would remind folk that they were part of a larger and vibrant community.