History of Retford

Retford, is one of the oldest boroughs in England, the first documentary evidence of Retford was found in the Domesday Survey of 1086. King Henry I established the borough of East Retford in 1105 and it was granted a Royal Charter by Henry III in 1246 allowing a market to be held each Thursday. In 1275 Edward I extended the charter to allow a Saturday market as well.  This tradition still continues today, along with a Friday.

Retford was a municipal borough until 1974 when it merged with Worksop and became Bassetlaw district. Its population is estimated to be 22,411 (mid 2012).  Its civic traditions are maintained by Charter Trustees and Charter Day continues to be celebrated each May Day Bank Holiday.

Retford was largely destroyed by a fire in 1528, but prospered during the 18th and 19th centuries with the coming of the Great North Road (1766), the Chesterfield Canal (1777) and the railways (1849). The fine Georgian and Victorian frontages and a large number of former coaching inns can still be seen in the town to this day.

The origins of the name Retford are still not know, although speculation states that the name probably comes from an ancient ford crossing the River Idle. It was originally named Redforde because of the frequent crossing of people and livestock disturbing the red clay on the river bed, which would tinge the water red.

Because it was less liable to flooding, the first land settled was on the western side of the ford. As the community grew it occupied land on the other side of the river and this eastern part of the town eventually became the more important. This resulted in Retford's official name of East Retford.

On the third Saturday of every month, Retford hosts a popular farmers’ market offering a variety of local produce. On Fridays, browsers can seek out bargains at the antiques and bric-a-brac market. Each year a very popular continental market is held, attracting visitors from near and far.

In addition to these markets, Retford also offers an impressive range of traditional high street and independent shops.

Historical Information

History of Retford Town Hall >>

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