Hatherleigh Market – A personal post on a place called Home.

Photography by Rosie Anderson

When I was a kid I believed you had to travel far from home to experience culture. I didn’t really know what exactly my own culture was or what it meant. I didn’t place any value on where I came from because I hadn’t then been able to put in to context with the wider world.

I grew up in a small market town called Hatherleigh in Devon, Nothing much happened – in fact I though it was pretty boring. That was apart from on Tuesday mornings – market day. Having moved back to the area as an adult Tuesdays are still my favorite day of the week.

Hatherleigh Market has been running for one thousand years. It’s held on an area of land right in the middle of the town. Its buildings are old and tired the ground is potholed and dusty or muddy depending on the weather.

What I didn’t realise then was that simply going to Hatherleigh market is a cultural experience in itself. It’s a living history that you can see, hear and smell. It’s about as far away from a supermarket shopping experience that you can get – it’s a visceral thing.

The landscape of Hatheleigh has changed loads since I left and came back. Its grown with housing estates gradually creeping around it’s perimeter but in the middle at the heart of the town the market has remained – pretty much unchanged – until now. The ground where the market is held is being sold for development to be turned into another housing estate (not for the greater good but to profit a few) and the people in this community are powerless to do anything about it. Its not that people don’t care but that they are up against planners, councils, surveys and consultation after consultation. Normal people can’t fight that. It’s simply not a fair fight.

Change can be good but when Hatherleigh market is turned into a housing estate I’m worried that what we will loose will be so much greater than a few stalls – it’s a living thing, part of our identity and what makes up part of who we are. It provides an undiscriminating sense of community and gives us a connection to the land we live on. You can’t put a value on that – its immeasurable. It keeps the place unique and draws people from far and wide. The town is alive on market day – it’s a social gathering for young and old like no other. It is a haven in a world where people are becoming so disconnected with each other and where they come from it. Its going to be replaced with another housing estate. It’s a tragedy.

Hatherleigh market is eccentric, shabby and quirky. Its not artisan, there is no pretension. It’s a place where real, honest hard working local people making a living. And it’s a place that local people depend upon to buy their weekly shop. You never know what you might find or whom you might meet or what you might end up buying.

Seems like madness to build a housing estate where there is a thriving market which has been going for such a long time. I’m going to miss it when its gone.

I took these photos in April 2014 on my weekly trip to the market using my Contax 645 medium format film camera because I wanted to capture on film before it goes and feeling powerless to do anything else the least I could do is take some photos. It might not look much and its taken me a while to recognises how important this place is it me. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in thinking it. Find out more information on the Hatherleigh website.

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