When I was young I remember sheep, pigs, cows and chickens being sold down Bargate but that has all gone now along with the sale of slaves and women, read on..........................................
In 1833 J.Martin, who was second master of the Grammar School, described the Boston May Fair of the 1400's as follows.
"In an open space adjoining Austin Friary, called Archery Ground, feats of truly English sport was celebrated in which all classes joined. Prize-fighting, or the science of defence, the professors of which were incorporated by royal patent, had its theatre near the archery ground. Preparations were also made for baiting a Bull on Bargate Common, as soon as the bustle of the beast mart had somewhat subsided. Throughout the whole of these scenes occasional booths presented themselves, on the outside of which was chalked in large characters "Wine, Ale, Sack."
The only revolting spectacle in the fair was the common exposure and sale of slaves, or villeins as they were called, a common practice in the times of which we write. These unfortunate beings were arranged, like beast in a stall, in a booth erected for the purpose just outside the Bar-gate, each one having an iron collar rivetted round his neck, on which was engraven his own name and that of his owner. The price of an ordinary slave was, in the year 1400, one mark, or 13s 4d."
Mr. Walter Whyers, writing in 1934, says that at one time it was no uncommon practice for a man to put a halter around his wifes neck, lead her to the appointed spot in Bargate Green and sell her for half a crown. His father remembered an amusing story of one such sale. A man had taken his wife to Bargate Green, put the halter about her neck, and sold her to another man. As the wife-seller took the halter from his wife's neck he gave her a flick across the back with it and said, " You can now go, you - I've had enough of you." The buyer then took the matter in hand, and stripping off his coat said, " Keep your hands off her, she's mine now." He then gave the woman's former husband a sound thrashing.