Also of note was the increasing variety of goods that were being brought into the city, these included items such as sugar, molasses, figs and prunes whilst in 1581 a cargo of 20,000 oranges and 1,000 lemons reached Norwich in time for the annual St Bartholomew’s Fair.Unfortunately in 1590 a fire destroyed the majority of the fishmongers’ and butchers’ stalls, necessitating the sum of around £156 from the city’s “Repairs Fund” to be spent on their replacement.
The market place became the perfect stage for public punishments. Not only was it next door to the Guildhall, which was both prison and court, it was perfectly placed to attract huge crowds, indeed the stocks and pillory stood at the eastern end of the Guildhall! Thus offenders brought before the court and convicted of such “immoral” acts as: “a woman entertaining three men in her house after midnight” were paraded around the market place wearing paper hats displaying details of their offence, often followed by a crowd banging on pots and basins.
Hangings were common in the market place, although records are generally sparse. It is known that gallows were set up at the market cross for the mass execution of Kett’s rebels in 1549.
A market cross was erected in the market place soon after Edward III granted the market franchise to the City in 1341. around 1502 it was replaced by May or John Rightwise who built an imposing structure 60ft - 70ft tall standing on a 30ft plinth (pictured in 1730).
The cross would have originally contained a central chapel, however, after the Reformation this was converted into a storehouse. It was a useful building which had approved measures chained to its pillars, for use by all, whilst it also provided shelter to stallholders & customers. As a result not only were grain & commodities, which sold by the bushell, traded here but it was also a fvourite haunt of itinerant traders.
Unfortunately, the cross was expensive to maintain & in 1732 it was pulled down, the stone was sold for £125 and the site levelled. During the 2005 renovation the foundations of the Tudor cross were excavated. Today its footprint is depicted by a bright red outline embedded in the flooring at the front of the market between row E & Row F allowing visitors to get an impression of the size of this once imposing building.