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OVER 850 YEARS OF MARKET TRADING
History of the Market.
The market legally began in 1154 when Peter de Bermingham, a local landowner, obtained a Charter of Marketing Rights from King Henry II. Initially, a textile trade began developing in the area and it was first mentioned in 1232 in a document, in which one merchant is described as a business partner to William de Bermingham and being in the ownership of four weavers, a smith, a tailor and a purveyor. Seven years later, another document described another mercer in the area. Within the next ten years, the area developed into a leading market town and a major cloth trade was established.
The name Mercer Street is first mentioned in the Survey of Birmingham of 1553. This was a result of the prominence of the area in the cloth trade. In the 16th century and 17th century, Mercer Street rapidly developed and became cramped. In the early 18th century Mercer Street was known as Spicer Street, reflecting the growing grocery and meat trade that had begun to take over from the cloth trade. By the end of the century the street was known as Spiceal Street. Despite being overcrowded and cramped, many houses on the street had gardens as indicated by an advertisement for a residential property in 1798. Houses were constructed close to St Martin’s Church, eventually encircling it. These became known as the Roundabout Houses.
Some old photos of the Bull Ring Market Traders